How SMT smart rack work?


What is smart rack for SMT?

Smart rack in SMT industry usually means reel rack systems use light indicator modules mounted to shelving. Whenever product is needed from a particular SMT production, the right indicator turns on, drawing attention where action is required. The operator picks the needed electronics components quantity required in job list/work order. After picking, smart rack can then detect the component removed and update inventory information to WMS or other inventory management system.

electronics component for SMT smart rack
Electronics components

To understnad the basics of smart racks there are two things need to be understood:


Directed Putaway

Directed putaway means the smart rack sytem, ie.SMF, tells you exactly where to store your components, reels, PCB at the moment when they enter to your warehouse or production area.

A directed putaway process can saves time and reduces all kinds of risks involving damaged, lost,etc. To benefit from a directed putaway process is not as simple as conceding its helpfulness. Smart rack system with put to light technology will be required for this job.

The term put-to-light describes the reverse procedure of pick-by-light. Here, the operator does not perform a component picking, but a put-down of the reels or other electronics materials to be used for future production. The same system displays are used as in a pick-to-light system. Put-to-Light systems are used in two-stage picking. For this purpose, several orders are first combined in a so-called “batch” (lot) and picked at the same time to save walking and picking times. The picking list is then distributed to the individual work orders using the put-to-light system. One or more shelves equipped with displays are installed in Neo Light system. The picker now scans the items from the batch bin one after the other. The system display of the associated parts then lights up. The picker can quickly and reliably allocate and deposit the item.

Pick to Light

A pick-to-light system consists at least of a highly visible eye-catching light and a confirmation button, which the picker uses to confirm the removal and report the stock change back to the warehouse management system in real time. In most cases, the system displays also have a numeric or alphanumeric display to show the picker the pick quantity and additional information, if necessary.

Correction input (+/-) can be provided to correct the picking quantity (for example, in the case of stock shortages) or for inventory functions, and additional function keys can be provided to call up special functions. As an alternative to acknowledgement by pushbutton, Neo Light Plus built-in sensors are used to monitor the intervention. Depending on the application, material list can be picked serially (after acknowledgement, the next list lights up) or in parallel (all component location light up simultaneously) with a pick-to-light system.

tilt shift photography of motherboard
Typical PCB


FIFO stands for First-in, first-out. It is one of four different ways to assign costs to ending inventory. FIFO assumes that the first component stored into the smart rack are used first. In fact there are several ways you can organize electronics materials serving your production. However, not all of these may be suited to the FIFO method. For instance, container is the cheapest method since it involves no racking – reels are simply put inside. While this is easy to implement, container doesn’t work in a FIFO inventory management system it is very likely we are in the position of last in, first out (LIFO) basis.


In order to take advantage of all the benefits of a SMT smart rack system, the connection to the higher-level system (usually a warehouse management system or manufacturing execution system) is essential. Order data must be transferred quickly and securely, as must confirmation, correction or special function messages. The workflows and processes must be well-defined in advance and usually customized.

smart rack
Connectivity is importnat for smart rack system


  • Following are the benefits of using smart racks
  • It is a paparless picking process. and in most case people is using PDA for checking and validation process.
  • Smart rack can streamline the work order picking process.
  • It increases picking productivity to some extent. A more automated solution like SMD BOX need to be considered.
  • Smart rack can largely eliminates picking error but it cannot 100% guarantee as it is still a manual process.
  • Smart rack system is easy to use and configured and installed. Operator can be trained in less time.

More to explorer