Vision picking is the process of efficiently picking items out of inventory to fulfill an order. Augmented reality (AR) layers virtual SKUs and paths onto real life. How do these two things fit together?
Vision picking is simply an application of AR in supply chain. This emerging technology is making strides in warehouse management, and it’s easy to see why. Since it improves productivity and accuracy, it leads to a faster fulfillment rate and higher customer satisfaction.
AR is at the core of vision picking. You’ve probably heard of wearable technology like smart glasses that merge reality with the digital to create a seamless experience. That’s AR. From the first Google Glass release in 2013 and Microsoft’s HoloLens headset in 2016, to the most recent line of iPhones putting AR experiences in the hands of the average consumer. There’s no denying the buzz this technology brings and the potential applications it has across all industries.
In this blog post, we will focus on how augmented reality speeds up order fulfillment through vision picking. What are its capabilities? What benefits could it bring to your operations? Read on to find out.
Before Vision Picking
Vision picking saves the time and manual efforts required in the traditional pick-by-paper approach. In the past, workers would have to navigate around the warehouse on their own to search for items in inventory. Since fulfillment instructions are paper-based and prone to errors, items are not efficiently picked for shipment.
Then, the pick-by-voice approach was introduced. Workers wear a headset that allows them to orally communicate with the warehouse software to receive and confirm picking tasks. Voice picking systems are over 50% more productive than pick-by-paper. However, the implementation cost is more than double. Since order picking accuracy aren’t significantly improved with this method, some businesses are hesitant with the ROI.
Vision Picking in Inventory Management
With vision picking, visual and voice cues in the smart glasses guide the worker. Furthermore, the glasses have navigation features that can sense the worker’s positioning in the warehouse. As one of the biggest players in supply chain logistics, DHL has already run dozens of pilot projects using vision picking in the US and Europe. They’ve seen an average improvement of productivity by 15% and higher accuracy rates as well.
Workers perform warehousing tasks like order picking and stock taking all hands free. Essentially, there is a visual display of order information and target location that ensures complete error-free picking. This increases the mobility and flexibility of operations, and the efficiency leads to long-term cost savings.
Here is an example of a worker using vision picking augmented reality to fulfill an order:
- The worker scans the bar code of an empty trolley. One “task” is considered a trolley of about 15 order bins.
- On the smart glasses, there is a display showing the task information and an augmented image of the trolley. It shows the aisle number, bin level, and quantity for an order.
- The worker goes to the location and upon scanning the correct bar code on the shelf, the visual image of the trolley highlights which bins the items belong to on the trolley.
- After all bins on the trolley are filled with their correct orders, the worker brings it to the designated location for packing and shipping.
Benefits of Vision Picking
- Smart glasses allow for hands free-processing and can be used for an entire shift without needing a charge.
Advanced Image Capture
- With automatic tracking of lots and serial numbers, vision picking provides continuous quality control. For that reason, workers don’t need to take additional steps to ensure accuracy because the image capture covers it.
Minimal Training Time Required
- Vision picking can reduce employee on-boarding time by up to 50% since it is easy to learn and operate.
Improved Service Performance
- Workers are productive and orders get in the hands of customers quicker. Warehouse workers report the smart glasses are comfortable to wear, and higher workplace satisfaction adds value to performance.
Vision picking is an integrated solution to many paint points in warehouse management. Goods are tracked accurately, and orders are quickly fulfilled. This results in streamlined operations, and the entire supply chain benefits.
With the recent advancements in augmented reality, companies who adopt vision picking into their logistics flow immediately have a competitive advantage over those who do not. When vision picking is combined with a robust inventory management system that offers automatic replenishment and lot control, your operations can run like a well-oiled machine.