Illumination

Insights and trends on augmented reality and advanced manufacturing technology
1June2018

A New Type of Pick-to-Light Solution for Part Kitting

pick-to-light technology

Our team is continually identifying new ways our practical AR technology can be used to solve common manufacturing challenges, including the ability to improve part kitting processes for increased accuracy, efficiency and quality.

While every step within a manufacturing sequence is critically important, ensuring operators have the right parts—at the right time—is foundational to ensuring every other step in the process can be completed seamlessly.

What solutions exist today?

Today, engineers have many different options for presenting parts to workers, with pick-to-light systems being one popular solution for part kitting.

While this method has historically been a valuable tool for manufacturers, pick lights are small and can be hard to locate in a large cell. Additionally, the error-proofing mechanism used with traditional pick-to-light systems (typically operator confirmation via finger swipe), is imperfect and can be easily bypassed. Maintenance of pick-to-light systems, oftentimes having many separate pieces, has also proved to be a tedious task for engineers to manage as part of their responsibilities.

The new approach to part kitting

With many of our team members having come from manufacturing backgrounds, they have a true understanding of the challenges these issues can create. This firsthand experience, and a tight feedback loop with customers, is what inspires us to think differently and allows us to develop solutions from a uniquely practical and personal perspective.

Through our work, we’ve identified ways to use augmented reality to address some of the challenges associated with picking parts, and in the process make factory floors smarter, safer and more efficient.

By using projection-based augmented reality, combined with various sensors, the whole parts bin, or area, can be lit up without additional hardware. Confirmation occurs based on actually reaching into the bin rather than requiring a finger swipe.

While we’re known for our projector-based augmented reality solutions, there are cases in which monitor-based solutions can be more effective—specifically, in cases where large kitting cells need to be covered, or in kitting cells with constantly changing parts.

For that reason, we developed our own type of “pick-to-light” system that, when used in conjunction with other Light Guide Systems solutions, can ensure operators are well-equipped to build each component perfectly, every time.

By using monitors mounted over racks, our pick-to-light technology features grids that visually guide operators to the specific location of a bin containing the part needed. For large cells, the cost-savings and efficiency this technology provides are unmatched.

Here are just a few of the benefits that are byproducts of using this approach to part kitting:

Ease of Maintenance

Say you’re a manufacturer running a cell that picks door handles. You have several different varieties of handle, and a certain percentage of them change on a consistent basis. Now say you want to run a new part for a few weeks. Our part kitting solution allows operators to quickly and easily make the changes necessary to account for the new part, and guides operators through the picking process.

We understand that kitting cells are always changing. Engineers may re-order rack layouts for better efficiency of movement throughout the cell, or move high-runner parts to be in a more ergonomic location for operators to lift. With Light Guide System’s monitor-based kitting solution, there is no need to stop improving.

What’s unique about our part kitting tool is that it’s designed with the team lead in mind. Managers can make quick and easy changes to where parts are in their cells, as opposed to traditional pick-to-light systems that require hiring a dedicated PLC programmer to make those same changes.

With so many parts constantly moving and being replaced on the factory floor to account for increased demand for product customization, this benefit alone results in much greater time efficiency and cost savings.

Say Goodbye to Pick List Memorization

On many plant floors, it can be difficult for operators to see a part number and know exactly which part is being referred to. With hundreds of different part numbers, there are often too many for any one person to feasibly memorize.

Light Guide Systems’ part kitting technology takes the daunting task of memorizing these big pick lists off operators’ shoulders and does the heavy lifting for them.

Adding new parts is fast, simple and doesn’t require knowledge of logic – operators simply need to include the cell’s layout, part number and a picture of the part to accompany it. Then simply hit save and they’re up and running with updated work instructions!

For more information about this visual, intuitive monitor-based augmented reality solution, send us a message and a member of our team will get in touch with you to discuss your specific needs.

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Miranda Perry

Miranda Perry

Miranda Perry is a Software Engineer for OPS Solutions, specializing in third-party software integrations and data analytics. Miranda graduated from Kettering University with a bachelor's degree in computer science and is a former Kettering co-op with OPS. With a variety of experience in enterprise software, specifically ERP systems, she can identify new and effective ways to integrate augmented reality solutions into existing enterprise systems. In her free time, Miranda is a fiction writer, having participated in National Novel Writing Month every year since 2007.
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