Visually Guided Activities in a Warehouse

Companies are constantly searching for conceptual and technological optimizations in logistics. One of the latest improvements is the use of augmented reality in warehouses. Smart glasses are replacing handheld portable devices and add a new dimension to voice-directed warehousing. We call this »Pick-by-Vision«.

Majority of warehouses have successfully migrated from paper-based work to bar-code based work and use of portable devices. In the last 5 years, we experienced an important shift of large distribution centers moving towards voice guided work – warehouse workers use headphones and microphones to communicate with WMS system. Workers do not carry handheld devices so their hands are free for goods manipulation. Their eyes are free from looking at screens, they can focus on the surroundings and their work has become safer.

The latest generation of solutions uses yet another human sense: vision! Warehouse worker receives his personal smart glasses, which present detailed visual and audible instructions to the worker. Instructions for the next step are always in front of worker’s eyes so he can be even more accurate. Workers are able to perform more complex tasks comparing to Voice or barcode based devices.

While there are more and more wearable devices used in our workplaces, the developers of such devices also need to think about effects of wearable technology to users. How do they react to smart glasses? Will the glasses affect their sight and feeling? These questions will need to be answered but the first pilot uses show positive symbiosis between technology and humans. DHL and some other companies have started pilots with smart glasses in their warehouses.

Spica is investing in wearable and especially in voice and vision augmented reality. We have integrated smart-glasses interface into our Frontman WMS solution, currently we are developing a support for visual products verification, which will use camera in smart-glasses for reducing errors in picking procedure. Preliminary results are promising and we are able to detect a vast majority of »wrong product«. Vision picking and smart glasses have a bright future in the warehouse. Especially if we know what is going on big R&D laboratories. Google, Samsung, and Intel have announced very exciting devices.

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Being part of the Spica management team for more than 15 years, Andrej Planina is considered a leading regional expert in the field of business mobile solutions and technologies for automatic identification. He obtained extensive knowledge working as a project manager for major organizations in the region. Well aware of the business aspects in information processes, Andrej is the author of some of Spica’s successful products. An award-winner for the best innovation for the "Intelligent safety control system“, he is regularly invited to share his knowledge as the lecturer at the University of Ljubljana (Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science, Faculty of Economics). When not working for Špica, he is a passionate wine taster and blogger. Find out more at https://vinovino.si/