DHL Supply Chain has begun rolling out the next phase of its Vision Picking Program following a successful trial of the augmented reality (AR) technology in the Netherlands.
Since the trial, DHL and technology partners Google, Vuzix and Ubimax have refined the vision picking solution and are now expanding the program across different industry sectors on a global scale. The original trial took place in 2014 at electronics firm Ricoh’s Bergen op Zoom warehouse.
John Gilbert, CEO, DHL Supply Chain, said, “We are excited to further test and develop vision picking as a solution that can be readily available to our customers. More importantly, this technology is not just one step towards digitalizing manual processes on the shop floor; it also takes us one step closer towards Industry 4.0.
“Testing technologies like AR, robotics and Internet of Things will continue to be a big part of our DNA.”
The Vision Picking Program involves equipping warehouse employees, referred to as pickers, with advanced smart glasses that visually display where each picked item needs to be placed on the trolley. Vision Picking enables hands free order picking at a faster pace, along with reduced error rates. Throughout 2016, the smart glasses will be piloted across various industries such as technology, retail, consumer and automotive industries. The data available from these pilots will further determine the technology’s potential for broader implementation. The pilot sites will be spread across the USA, mainland Europe and the UK.
Markus Voss, chief information officer, DHL Supply Chain, said, “The Vision Picking Program is DHL Supply Chain’s first translation of what AR solutions can look like for supply chains. The broad spectrum in which the technology can be applied across various sectors is exciting to us, and the potential of this technology for business is still largely untapped. We believe this program is a game changer in how we run our supply chain operations and deliver added value to our customers.”
The AR and virtual reality (VR) market holds great potential for the tech sector, although estimates over its impact vary widely. Goldman Sachs estimates a combined industry value of US$80bn for both VR and AR by 2025, while M&A advisory firm Digi-Capital predicts a total volume of US$150bn by 2020. Investors are also convinced of the technology’s prospects, having made 225 venture capital investments worth US$3.5bn in the last two years.
DHL Supply Chain will be one of the first companies to widely implement the technology into its operations. The initial 2014 test in the Netherlands showed a significant increase in productivity, reduced error rates, and created an overall rise in employee satisfaction.
Images courtesy of DHL Supply Chain
September 1, 2016