Wearable Technology in the Warehouse

Author James Mash 25.5.2016. | 09:46

Wearable technology refers to electronic devices and computers that are incorporated into clothing and accessories that we wear on a daily basis. It involves a broad spectrum of products that are capable of performing the same or similar tasks as smartphones, but often with more efficiency and added functionalities. They have sparked much attention across all industry sectors, and many entrepreneurs have taken notice, striving to improve their operational capacities.

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Wearing more than one hat

Applications have been carried out along the supply chain, particularly in warehouse locations. Connected networks of hardware are not an uncommon sight anymore, and we have managed to break new ground in areas of previously untapped analytics. The Internet of Things has brought forth an avalanche of manufacturing innovations, and sometimes they take the smallest of forms.  Everyday items are now infused with wireless capabilities and used to communicate and manipulate the high-tech environment.

The greatest strength of wearable technology lies in the promise of making things easier both for managers and floor workers. Many businesses have already experienced vast improvements in the efficiency of operations.  Namely, everyone under the warehouse roof has a rich pool of real-time data available at the fingertips, which immensely boost the transparency. The benefits can be reaped in areas of communication, productivity and safety as well.

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On the watch

For example, a worker can now operate the machinery, vehicles, ramps, material lifts and other pieces of equipment with gadgets such as a smartwatch. Warehouse managers, on the other hand, are able to gather key performance indicators and gain deeper insights into performance: They harness the knowledge from their wrist in order to enhance distribution and fulfillment processes.  Making such timely, informed decisions, as well as acting quickly on the spot, is paramount to business success in the competitive market of today.

Also, business owners and managers do no longer have to attend all those tedious meetings and be in all the places. A smartwatch application notifies them if something is amiss and a particular problem requires their attention. Furthermore, user-friendly platforms integrate these smartwatches with warehouse control systems and induce a powerful synergy that takes the operations to the next level.

Another killer product worth mentioning are smart glasses. They have enabled warehouse businesses to implement the new practice of “Vision Picking” via augmented reality. This involves hands-free order picking: The glasses are used in place of paper and bar-code scanners to complete the process.  Moreover, graphics that are displayed on the glass are guiding lights that guide workers through the racks tunnel of the warehouse. They can scan individual trolleys and objects in a shorter period of time, and look like SF movie protagonist while at it.

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Visually transmitting step-by-step manufacturing instructions can be also achieved with voice-command devices and audio headsets. It is estimated that this wearable technology improves the productivity by 30%. Sometimes, however, the goal is to adhere to health and safety standards. Wearables can monitor health condition and the stress level of the workers, similarly to the fitness trackers. GPS and beacon technology, on the other hand, locates them wherever they are. The purpose is, of course, not to stalk your employees, but to prevent them from entering dangerous zones and nearing hazardous material.

Lift it up

Warehouse operations have changed much under the influence of wearable technology. The impact on the supply chain is more than evident, and it will only grow in importance. After all, it allows employees to complete everyday tasks more efficiently and supports managers in improving the decision-making process. They may take immediate action to solve a problem, speed things up and handle the great order volume nice and easy. It is clear that wearable pieces of tech magic are making big waves in the warehouse landscape, and that the rising tide will lift many boats.


 

This guest post was written by Lana Hawkins, an architecture student from Sydney who’s hobbies include cooking and crafting, she regularly blogs for Smooth Decorator.

Author James Mash 25.5.2016. | 09:46
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