Sigma Pharmaceuticals, Australia

Sigma Pharmaceuticals' Pick to Light system was installed more than 14 years ago, and was well past its use-by-date. With 95%+ of orders passing through the Pick to Light system, it was a core component of Sigma’s distribution strategy.

The solution

After reviewing a wide range of options, Dematic’s detailed analysis revealed that the optimal solution for Sigma was to not only replace the Pick to Light system, but to expand its application, and to use it in conjunction with voice-directed picking to eliminate paper and increase order picking flexibility. 

Before it could begin work on the PTL system, Dematic needed to upgrade the pick module conveyor controls and software. A clever piece of programming by Dematic’s software engineers enabled it to install and test the changes over a couple of weekends, but then switch back to its previous configuration until the rest of the upgrades could be installed. 

Removing Sigma’s existing PTL system, installing, testing and commissioning the new software and hardware, including more than 3000 new PTL displays, would normally require at least a week. 

Given Sigma’s need to continue trading throughout the upgrade, this simply wasn’t possible. Dematic had to come up with a smarter, quicker alternative. 

Dematic’s solution was to replicate the pick module layout in an unused corner of the warehouse, mapping the entire PTL system and creating a unique ID for each component and PTL location. 

Dematic then created a virtual pick module by setting up temporary shelving, and systematically installed all the PTL hardware that would be required, making sure the PTL displays were in exactly the location they would be within the actual pick module, and labeled each with its unique ID. 

By pre-configuring the entire system in this way, Dematic was able to complete a large part of the electrical work and wiring in advance, terminating cables with connectors so they could be simply clipped into place. 

It also enabled Dematic to run all of the tests to ensure the hardware and software were configured and operating properly. The virtual system was then broken down into ready to fit sub-assemblies. This made it possible for Dematic to remove the old system, and install and commission the new one over a single weekend, something that had not previously been thought possible with an upgrade of this scale. 

Customer benefits

  • Reduced risk of system failure
  • Enhanced flexibility enabling the use of PTL & Voice during peak periods
  • Improved productivity, accuracy and operations reporting
  • No disruption to customer service

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