What is pick-by-scan?

Picking with barcode scanner!

To ensure the orderly exchange of goods and merchandise, companies need well thought-out intralogistics. The more efficiently this is designed, the lower the relevant costs and the smaller any sources of error. The basis for this is picking, which can be done using various methods. Pick-by-scan forms a proven standard and is the most frequently used picking method.

Picking by means of pick-by-scan: definition and explanation

Not every company, regardless of size, needs a highly complex warehouse and inventory management system. It is often sufficient to intelligently align processes and integrate warehouse employees (especially order pickers). Pick-by-scan stands for paperless picking based on aids such as barcode scanners or other mobile data entry (MDE) methods.

One advantage: unlike traditional picking tasks, which involve paperwork, barcode scanners, for example, enable individual pick items to be processed step by step. All the information the user needs on site is shown on a digital display.

is popular as a simple but proven picking method precisely because it eliminates many time-consuming, small-scale tasks. Since MDEs such as barcode scanners or handhelds (so-called mobile computers) are continuously connected to the warehouse management system (WMS) via WLAN, even time-critical tasks can be transferred directly to the operator.

At a glance: Advantages of the Pick-by-Scan picking method

It is not just the turnover rate or the number of picks per unit that are relevant parameters, but above all the error rate, which reduces the intensive investigation to a minimum. Pick-by-Scan offers a variety of advantages compared to Pick-by-Paper, which we will describe in more detail below:

  • Real-time synchronization of data sets through WLAN network connection
  • Display of relevant information for the picker in compact form (display)
  • Immediate feedback from the system significantly reduced the error rate
  • Elimination of time-consuming work steps, such as administration, search or inventory reconciliation of pick lists
  • Higher level of transparency through integration into the warehouse management system (WMS)
  • Paperless picking possible in various warehouse segments

In short: Pick-by-Scan can be used efficiently primarily because this method is conceivably easy to handle. A barcode scanner helps to clearly assign handling goods and document their progress in the warehouse. They are designed as special MDEs for various areas of application, including use in particularly hygienic work areas, in industry or trade.

Disadvantages of pick-by-scan: High investment costs and other factors

Appropriate planning and lead time is required before an efficient storage system can be established and picking steps can be carried out intelligently. Depending on the area of application, for example, higher requirements must be implemented, such as in dust-intensive or temperature-sensitive areas. We present the most important aspects below:

  • Pick-by-scan reduces the freedom of movement of the picker, individual "hands free" working is not possible.
  • Higher investment costs compared to paper-based picking methods, which may require be accompanied by additional expenses for employee training and system integration.
  • Depending on the storage system: increased time required for small parts scanning.
  • Potential sources of error due to damaged or illegible barcodes and labels, incompletely decoded labels or similar.

However, pick-by-scan exists in many forms, ranging from simple text displays to comfort MDEs with keyboard, touchscreen, etc. Since the user-related sources of error are reduced as much as possible, investments in this area pay off after a shorter period of time.

Examples for application areas of Pick-by-Scan

Any company that operates multiple IT systems and exchanges data, for example, relies on reliable input. Pick-by-Scan enables paperless picking, providing the user with all the important details (order data, packing instructions, storage location, quantity, etc.) that are required.

After all, only error-free picking can ensure success-critical aspects such as short shipping times. Improper, careless use would otherwise be directly reflected in high cancellation rates. In addition, the manual effort required to deal with errors is immensely high, tying up time and resources at the expense of margins.

In the following list, we show you examples of areas of application in which pick-by-scan represents the absolute basis of order picking:

  • Warehouse logistics in general
  • Handling of shipping goods in the open air
  • Retail
  • Mail order
  • Food industry
  • Craft and industry

Good to know: Pick-by-Scan or Pick-by-Barcode can be adapted to new or changing warehouse structures as required. Designed as an open system, it effectively reduces returns and can be used anywhere barcodes or labels are used.


Logistik Lexikon Pick by Scan

Image: Marcin Balcerzak / Shutterstock

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