Warehouse Trends in 2021: Wearable Technology

Wearable technology is hardly new. But its uses in the warehouse increase every year, as more companies hop onto the digitalization wagon. E-commerce has seen a huge surge in 2020 and the future of the market is shifting to sellers who can deliver fast.

Wearable technology reinvents warehouse operations and boosts supply chain efficiency. Its effect on revenue is unquestionable; logistics giants like UPS and FedEx have been using wearables for a decade. To compete in a hyper-competitive landscape, business owners must upgrade their warehouses and embrace technology. IoT, analytics, AI, mobile and wearable tech… The list goes on.

Today we’ll be looking into wearables.

Warehouse Wearables

Warehouse wearables are gadgets that can be worn, usually on the head, face, hand, or wrist. This allows users to operate handsfree and perform tasks faster and more efficiently. Warehouse operations that benefit from wearable tech include overseeing pick requests, picking, scanning, confirming, packing, and loading.

Voice Headsets

Headsets are the oldest piece of wearables. They enable picking through voice command and eliminate the need for scanning; other use cases involve receiving, put-away, restocking and counting. Headsets also facilitate communication between operators and tech support or labor management.

Smart Gloves

Smart gloves usually refer to gloves that have small gadgets attached. They’re also called wearable computers. Some are equipped with barcode scanners, some have keypads, some have cameras and most have screens. Smart gloves provide great ease during picking and scanning processes.

Smart Glasses

Smart glasses scan barcodes, provide directions, and show order lists through Augmented Reality. The gadgets also combine voice tech through headsets, allowing operators to confirm pick requests and inquire item locations on the go.

Benefits of Wearable Technology

Wearable technology integrated with SAP Extended Warehouse Management (SAP EWM) is the next step for warehouse digitization. SAP EWM can work with smart gloves without any additional integration. Users get individually assigned warehouse operations based on their responsibilities. This way, operators can read customized tasks from their smart glove screens.

Many activities, including inventory tasks, can now be completed in a fraction of the time that was previously possible. Combined with labor management, these activities can be reflected onto performance reports. SAP’s HR integration can calculate and automatically pay operators’ paychecks and bonuses.

Faster Operations

Wearables allow operators to perform tasks hands-free. They provide visual and audio cues, so there’s no need for checking handheld devices. Navigation is another convenient feature. AI calculates the shortest routes; operators merely follow instructions on which direction to go. This improves workforce productivity, which translates to faster operations.

Safer Work Environment

Because devices are connected, AI can detect colliding routes and send out warnings against potential clashes. Smart devices are also notified of malfunctions, either through integrated, intelligent systems or via labor management personnel. Operators are preemptively alerted to seek maintenance. They can seek technical assistance by video conference through their smart glasses and voice headsets. This leads to reduced maintenance durations and increased asset uptime.

Fewer Human Errors

Manually entering data, confirming orders with paper forms, and finding items by searching through inventory become obsolete. Barcode scanning and AI navigation eliminate the margin for human error. Warehouse operations become more precise. Smart glasses guide pickers into reaching the correct bin and picking the right items. Pickers then verify and confirm picks via voice recognition. All this is logged into SAP EWM in real-time, reducing administrative processes.

Wrapping Up

SAP integrated wearable technology in the warehouse is a game changer—it maximizes labour productivity, provides real-time data, eliminates the need for paper-based activities and boosts operations’ accuracy. If you’re looking to digitize your warehouse, explore our SAP EWM services to find out how we can help you get started.

And if you're still running on SAP WM, you might like our previous blog post where we explain why you should migrate to SAP EWM.


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