Automatic i-points are part of zone-to-zone picking systems which are loaded with totes as realized for the companies Riegler, Winkler or Hoffmann. Automatic i-points can be also found in special applications for pick & pack, in case automatic carton erectors are integrated.
I-points as central points
In most cases, automatic i-points are central points for starting an order. Often, this scenario is preceded by a volume calculation for determining the number of totes needed. At the i-point, the orders are linked to totes and supporting documents or labels can be put into the order picking totes which are required for the order picking or shipping process (automatic applicator and printer). Another advantage: a central collecting point exists for empty or shipping totes. Disadvantage: all order picking totes have to be transported through the entire plant - from the starting point up to the point where the totes are taken off.
Thus, this strategy and system design largely depends on the tote volume and the number of picking positions, as each system (or even a loop) has a limited capacity only. When starting the order at the i-point, the degree of capacity utilization of the zone has to be considered as well as overloading the zones may result in the need that totes must be destacked, get jammed or remain in the loop. If the employee is destacking totes, he cannot pick orders at the same time. Obstructions and repetitions reduce the system throughput and increase the order lead times.