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PRODUCTIVITY IMPROVEMENT Smart glasses drive efficient manufacturing in a safe return to work strategy

Jun 9, 2020

Pick-by-Vision adds to smart technology because smart glasses learn manufacturers’ parts; they memorise the visual appearance including robots and bin locations. Pick-by-Vision predicts and prevents mis-picks and decides the best part to pick next. These technologies define efficiency in manufacturing. Thomas R Cutler, President & CEO, TR Cutler, Inc, trcutler@trcutlerinc.com

Predictions of smart glasses before COVID-19

The data suggests exponential growth with smart glasses through 2025. Apart from automatic identification and data capture (AIDC) and autonomous mobile robots (AMR), LogisticsIQ’s research pointed to technology innovations like Automated Storage and Retrieval System (AS/RS), Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs – working with other navigation methods like optical tapes and sensors), and Picking Systems (Pick-by-Vision) to make warehouses more effective to meet customer expectations of same day delivery.

The market research study “Warehouse Automation Market By Technology (AGV/AMR, AS/RS, Conveyors, Sortation, Order Picking, Automatic Identification and Data Capture, Palletizing & Depalletizing, Overhead Systems, MRO Services and WMS/WES/WCS), By Industry (E-commerce, General Merchandise, Grocery, Apparel, Food & Beverage, Pharma, 3PL), By Functions (Inbound, Picking, Outbound), By Geography – Global Forecast to 2025,” estimates that the global Warehouse Automation Market will grow more than 2x from $13 Billion in 2018 to $27 billion by 2025, at a CAGR of 11.7% between 2019 and 2025.

Pick-by-Vision and robots support social distancing

Smart glasses result in a much faster and more reliable material flow. Unlike pick-to-light and voice picking, Pick-by-Vision forms a perfect symbiosis of modern technology and natural motion. Smart glasses and complementary products are tailor-made for the demands of man and machine. At a time of COVID-19, mandate social distancing and new return-to-work strategies are essential, these technologies form an efficient and flawless material flow. Workers appreciate returning to a safe work environment and their employers who have considered safety.

Smart glasses see big growth since COVID-19

The essential services during the pandemic and those industries attempting a safe re-opening process recognize the vital role of automation, robotics, and smart glasses for Pick-by-Vision. Even the smallest manufacturer center can ill afford an outbreak. Care of smart glasses is easy and minimises the number of touches during a work shift.

The glasses enables better performance, an improved energy balance, and greater compatibility. Together with specially adapted software components, these features deliver greater efficiency in visually guided picking processes.

The Glass Enterprise Edition 2 glasses come with a whole range of brand-new technical specifications. These include a powerful Qualcomm quad-core processor and the Android 8.1 operating system, also known as Android Oreo. This not only makes the glasses faster, but also ensures a longer battery life. Connectivity has also been improved with the highest possible standards in transmission technology. The Glass Enterprise Edition 2 is also part of the Android Open Source platform, making the glasses even more flexible, customizable, and efficient manufacturing solutions.

According to Carsten Funke, CEO of Picavi USA, “The benefit of our system is that each worker has their own set, at least for the shift, and no one touches it, compared to the Lights – that get a lot of different hands. The glasses are the easiest device to disinfect since you can use a 0.5% detergent-water solution, such as natural detergent or mild dishwashing soap, or 70-80% isopropyl alcohol to a clean; using a soft damp cloth and wiping down all surfaces is most effective. With Voice you would have to exchange all the parts that can’t be wiped down, and of course Lights where you can essentially employ someone to clean the lights and buttons constantly. So, in the end the glasses only need to be touched twice during a shift. Employees will put them on at the beginning of a shift (after wiping them down) and put them away at the end of a shift (after disinfecting). This ensures a contactless, handsfree, and safe environment. Since we are using voice commands to control and interact with the glasses there is no additional need to touch the equipment.”

Analytics - when every second counts!

Funke shared that efficient manufacturing must take analytics which convert Big Data into Smart Data. Sensors on the Pick-by-Vision data glasses collect process parameters that can be evaluated in real-time using the Picavi Cockpit. These analytics makes it possible to define customer-specific KPIs such as picks per hour, picks per location, or an ABC analysis and monitor them in dashboards.

ABC analysis (or ABC classification) is used by inventory management teams to help identify the most important products in their portfolio and ensure they prioritise managing them above those less valuable. ABC analysis of inventory helps efficient manufacturers keep working capital costs low because it identifies which items should be reordered more frequently and which items need to be stocked less often – reducing obsolete inventory and optimising the rate of inventory turnover.

Another advantage is the identification of optimisation potentials. The sensors integrated in the data glasses record the movement patterns of the order pickers and the analytics evaluates these data. Users can easily check whether the articles are stored according to the ABC analysis.

With the Wi-Fi Heat Map, possible weak points in the WLAN coverage can also be detected. When manufacturers discover that a particular storage location frequently takes a long time, the analytics will show these cases transparently.

Pick-by-Vision technology has the potential to deliver the best performance breakthrough and highest return on investment for efficient manufacturing. The challenges introduced due to the pandemic will accelerate the technology solutions best-suited to adhering to safe back to work strategies.

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  • Thomas R Cutler

    President & CEO

    TR Cutler, Inc

    trcutler@trcutlerinc.com

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