Data glasses as wearables are part of a technology that is increasingly becoming a trend in logistics: augmented reality (AR). For example, in its 2017 study "Trends and Strategies in Logistics and Supply Chain Management – Digital Transformation Opportunities", the German Logistics Association (BVL) determined that 18.7 percent of companies plan to introduce data glasses within the next five years.
In cooperation with technology partner Picavi, Arvato SCM Solutions has already taken the next step and successfully launched the innovation project "Pick-by-Vision" for Sennheiser at the Gütersloh site.
Prior to this, a separate picking process was identified together with Sennheiser, which made it possible to carry out the processes in a controlled environment and to assess them with precise time measurements. The objective was to use the smart glasses to increase productivity and quality and to identify the optimal process workflows for the new technology. The ability to display additional, context-related information or guidelines makes this AR application particularly suitable for transshipment or maintenance, for example.
The feedback from employees on the operational side of the business was also positive: with the pick-by-vision solution, the pickers have both hands free and their eyes on the current process steps at all times — in contrast to the work with handheld scanners. Instead of relying on the tiring voice commands of pick-by-voice systems, our system inserts data directly into the field of view of the employee in real time.
Business efficiency always depends on the specific application, but according to Picavi, pick-by-vision increases productivity, on average, by a double-digit percentage, compared to traditional picking with paper picklists. Compared to handheld scanners, this means cost savings of around ten to fifteen percent, and even the costs of modern, popular pick-by-voice systems can — depending on process and pick density — be improved by five to ten percent thanks to the data glasses.
The future of order picking
The pick-by-vision project was initiated at Sennheiser in the framework of the current innovation strategy for the supply chain, which sees innovations as a central ingredient for success in products and services. Meanwhile, Arvato SCM Solutions is already considering extending the system in another area of application: since the glasses allow warehouse workers to have their hands free when stacking the pallets, errors can be minimized when the outgoing goods are scanned, which leads to significant gains in productivity and quality.
In addition, together with Sennheiser, work is underway on additional augmented reality features that are intended to intelligently and digitally support the processes in the warehouse outside of the traditional picking process.