Can DHL smart glasses augment logistics reality?

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Glasses tend to make people look smarter. Logistics firm DHL wants to find out if wearing high-tech “smart glasses” can make you work smarter as well. According to a pilot test the company recently completed in the Netherlands, augmented reality displays might make warehouse workers more efficient.

In cooperation with electronics firm Ricoh and wearable computing company Ubimax, DHL asked 10 of its warehouse staff in Bergen op Zoom to test various forms of augmented reality gear, such as Google Glass and VuzixM100, over a period of three weeks.

The headsets were used to guide the workers through the warehouse and identify items to be pulled – a method called “vision picking” – via a digital graphics on the smart glass. To the viewer, the units displayed task information, such as aisle number, product location and quantity of order, as if it were floating in the air before them. See photos below to get an idea of what the workers see.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The test subjects used the equipment to pick more than 20,000 items, fulfilling 9,000 orders during the trial. By the end of the trial, the staff was able to reduce errors and boost their overall efficiency by 25 percent while using the augmented reality gear.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Vision picking enables hands-free order picking and greatly increases productivity,” said Jan-Willem De Jong, business unit director, technology, for DHL Supply Chain, Benelux. DHL and Ricoh are now jointly evaluating potential roll-out of the technology to other operations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In June 2014, DHL´s Trend Research team issued a report called “Augmented Reality in Logistics,” which describes best practices and promising use cases. In addition to vision picking in warehousing operations, the report also describes how the technology could be applied to enhance transportation, last-mile delivery and value-added services. To see the full DHL augmented reality report, click here.

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