Warehouse Management

Why Does the Increff Digital Pigeonhole System Beat Put-To-Light Systems for E-commerce Operations
  • Reshab Agarwal

  • 4 minutes

  • 3 October, 2023

Why Does the Increff Digital Pigeonhole System Beat Put-To-Light Systems for E-commerce Operations

The technology you use in your warehouse for the entire picking and packing process is critical to how efficiently the different processes happen. This is especially true in the case of B2C orders, where meeting the marketplace SLAs is very critical, and the volumes are high, but the number of items per order is low as compared to B2B dispatches. 

In fact, generally, in e-commerce, around 70%-80% of orders received only have a single item. The complications increase further due to multiple e-commerce sales channels like Amazon, Flipkart & Myntra that a single warehouse might fulfill orders. 

From different types of packing materials, taping, invoices, shipping labels, and stickering to image capturing and QC processes, there are a lot of variables that apply to each order. When this is combined with a generic sorter and PTL (Put/-to-light) system, the operational efficiency and speed drastically fall. 

There are a lot of limitations that such a system has as compared to Increff pigeonhole, which makes the latter a much better choice for warehouses. Let’s take a look at them.

1) Throughput and scalability

Most light-directed systems can have only one person in a work zone at a time, which reduces potential throughput. In addition, since the lights are wired to the shelving location, it can be expensive and time-consuming to expand or modify a pick-to-light system.

Whereas for Increff digital pigeonhole works on concepts of zone aisle and serialization. So, multiple operations can simultaneously work on the pigeonhole at the same time.

Since there is no need for any integrated hardware, it’s as easy to scale up as to add new shelves and put barcodes on them. Suppose you need to downscale; that is also easy by just disabling the pigeonhole in the system.   

2) Maintenance and dependence on hardware

A PTL system is highly dependent on hardware as it uses a physical light that a worker must find and press to do a put-to-light. These hardware lights require a lot of maintenance, and every item put in needs to be manually entered into the system. In case the warehouse is very large, the efficiency decreases further because multiple workers are required in different areas just to make sure when a light is turned on, it is visible to someone.

However, in the case of Increff Pigeonhole, everything is done digitally. The only requirement is to do stickering with a barcode. Once that is completed, the exact location is shown to the sorter where they need to collect their item. In the case of larger warehouses, the locations can also be divided into multiple layers like shelves, isles, and more.

3) Item count accuracy

In put-to-light systems, multiple lights turn on for consolidating one SKU in multiple orders, so there are high chances of operators making mistakes in putting the right number of items in the right order. 

Increff pigeonhole works on serialization. To keep any item in the pigeonhole, a serialized item code has to be scanned. This ensures that there aren’t any errors. 

4) Path optimization post consolidation

In the case of large warehouses with thousands of square feet in space and 100+ pigeonholes, picking consolidated orders post-pigeonholing becomes a big deal.

If a worker has to pick items from 50 orders before bringing them back to the packing desk, just collecting them at random reduces their productivity, as it takes time to find where the next light is on, and then turning it off becomes difficult if there are 100 – 200 shelves. A PTL system is incapable of offering an optimized pick path route post consolidation because when 15 lights are on in different bins, and all of them are not even visible to a worker, they won’t know the best route to take. 

In Increff pigeonhole, once orders are consolidated, Increff shows a dashboard that tells operators which pigeonhole aisle has orders of what channels and SLA. Once an operator starts picking for consolidated orders, the Increff system automatically optimizes their pick path and gives guided picking. Increff pigeonhole also allows marketplace-wise order picking, which gives a very high rise in productivity if there are marketplace-wise packing stations. In traditional PTL systems, this kind of filtering is not possible.

Why do we even need a pigeonhole if 70% of orders are single pieces?

Absolutely correct observation. Let’s go a step back from order consolidation and go to picking. In traditional WMS, which works on SKU bases and not on serialization, for example, if 100 items are picked for e-commerce, there is no good way to sort the 70 items that are for single-piece orders vs. 30 items that are for multi-piece orders. Hence, all have to be taken to the pigeonhole. 

Increff WMS works on serialization, and every item that is getting picked gets instantly mapped to an order. So, just by a single sorting scan, the 70 items for single pieces can be segregated from 30 items for multi-piece orders and even on channel level. These 70 items don’t need to go to pigeonhole and can be directly taken to packing stations of respective channels. 

This reduces the need for pigeonhole by a large factor and saves a lot of time as well by only doing consolidation where it’s required.

TLDR Increff Pigeonhole a must-have in your warehouses

  1. Increff pigeonhole acts as both a sorter and consolidator.
  2. A single pigeonhole can be used for multiple orders, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way. In general, the first item of an order can go to any pigeonhole, and the second item onwards goes to the same one. 
  3. When there are multiple bins with fewer SKUs than the limit, they will be consolidated to empty more bins. Once this happens, the consolidated bin will be prioritized for picking.
  4. Fast-moving items like top-sellers will be kept in pigeonholes closer to the packing zones to fastrack picking and packing.
  5. In large warehouses, Pigeonholes can be categorized into shelves, isles, and zones for easy locating.
  6. For B2C orders with only one item, once the picker picks it, it will bypass the pigeonhole and go directly to the packing table.

Also Read: Top 5 KPIs That a CEO Must Be Tracking in the Warehouse

Author: Reshab Agarwal

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