Wearables and augmented reality software improved order picking process by 25 percent in pilot project

A recent pilot project in the Netherlands by DHL and Ricoh has successfully tested smart glasses and augmented reality in a warehouse. The technology was used to implement ‘vision picking’ in warehousing operations.

Workers were guided through the warehouse by graphics displayed on the smart glass to speed up the picking process and reduce errors. The pilot proved that augmented reality offers added value to logistics and resulted in a 25 percent efficiency increase during the picking process.

“Vision picking enables hands free order picking and greatly increases productivity. The technology significantly supports our staff and brings exciting value to our customers. However, this is just the first step in our innovation journey as we believe augmented reality will become relevant for even more supply chain areas“, says Jan-Willem De Jong, Business Unit Director Technology, DHL Supply Chain Benelux.

Benefits and limitations of the technology
The pilot’s objective was to gain insights on the technology’s benefits and limitations. For three weeks, warehouse staff in Bergen op Zoom was equipped with head mounted displays such as Google Glass and VuzixM100.

The displays showed the respective task information during the picking process, including aisle, product location and quantity. Overall, 10 order pickers used the equipment and picked more than 20,000 items, fulfilling 9,000 orders within the given time frame. As a result, staff was able to operate much faster and error free. Currently, DHL and Ricoh are jointly evaluating the roll-out of the solution.

In June 2014, DHL´s Trend Research team issued a trend 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 illustrates how operations during transportation, last mile delivery and value-added services could be improved by augmented reality applications.