Augmented reality and virtual reality technologies claim to offer some spectacular advantages to warehouse operations – up to 30% savings, in some cases. Ruari McCallion, writing for Eureka Magazine, the online magazine for materials handling professionals, has taken a closer look. Here’s a summary of his report.

As well as highlighting the differences between Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR), Ruari looks at how AR has been accepted by the industry sector, how it’s being used and the impact it’s making. He notes that several possibilities for AR are now appearing on the marketplace and being offered across a range of activities, from manufacturing and warehouse management to medicine, including surgery. As part of his investigation into this technology, Ruari describes how he attended a demonstration of Microsoft HoloLens, including a visit to a skin graft surgery attached to a major teaching hospital as well as being shown its’ use in mechanical and electrical (M&E) functions in construction.

Ruari’s main focus for his report though is on warehouse management and how the emerging technology of Augmented Reality can be used to aid order picking. This is one of the most important activities in warehouse operations, accounting for approximately 20% of all logistics costs and up to 55% of the total cost of warehousing (European Journal of Operational Research in 2007) and is also very reliant on human involvement. Therefore, improving the efficiency and reducing order picking errors can make a major difference to the profitability, competitiveness and reputation of a warehouse.

Ruari uses the example of how Augmented Reality smart glasses may help this process and are already being adopted by some third-party logistics providers when integrated into the overall warehouse management system. Their use shows some significant benefits including the reduction of order picking time and error rate, as well as overall improvements in efficiency by warehouse operators using smart glasses. He also mentions the healthcare sector as another example of where AR has been trialled and notes that it is not just about smart glasses, citing other examples of how it is being used, such as via smartphone technology.

For a more fascinating, in-depth look at this emerging technology and how it has been applied in industry, please visit Eureka Magazine to read the full article. https://eurekapub.eu/technology/2019/11/28/seeing-is-believing

Augmented reality (AR) technology
Augmented reality (AR) technology
The latest version of Microsoft’s HoloLens AR headset
The latest version of Microsoft’s HoloLens AR headset
Vuzix smart glasses in order picking action
Vuzix smart glasses in order picking action