SAN ANTONIO -- A cart that combines pick-to-light and radio frequency technologies has helped H.E. Butt Grocery Co. here increase picking productivity for health and beauty care products by 50% at its San Marcos distribution center.
A source within H-E-B confirmed the picking cart is used at one of the retailer's facilities, but declined to provide any further information.
H-E-B has used the cart at this warehouse for a year, according to a source familiar with the situation. The technology is most useful for picking slow-moving items, because it allows an employee to pick orders efficiently for several stores at once. H-E-B uses the cart to pick for four stores.
H-E-B downloads all the stores' orders to a host computer at the distribution center. Data for the picking process is then transmitted to the pick bar on the cart, and a scannable label is attached to each tote on the cart.
The employee begins the picking process by using a handheld radio frequency scanner to scan each tote's label. This identifies the entire quantity of product that needs to be picked for each store. Once all the labels are scanned, the readout on the cart's pick bar prompts the employee to the correct location in the distribution center.
At the slot, the employee uses the handheld scanner to scan the slot itself, in order to confirm that it is the correct location. The pick bar's readout then indicates the number of items to be picked, and lights on the pick bar indicate which tote the product belongs in.