Imagine a warehouse where employees are able to freely move around and perform their duties more effectively. No longer is it necessary to be constrained by a computer or scanner that acts as chokepoint on the warehouse floor. Wearable technology allows users to work smarter and faster by receiving real-time updates and instructions with the aid of hands-free devices. According to Sweeney Research, 14 per cent of Australians already have a wearable fitness device (Digital Australia: State of the Nation 2015–16). Given the popularity of smartwatches, fitness trackers, sports watches and other connected devices in 2015, it is not surprising that this technology is filling a critical need in the warehouse and logistics industries.
What are wearables anyway?
Wearable technologies, often referred to as ‘wearables’, are devices that are often connected to the internet or to other devices worn on the body, with the purpose of enhancing communication to and from other users. Wearable devices incorporate electronic capabilities including sensors, hands-free information retrieval and computing capability normally found in smartphones.
How wearables are changing warehouse operations
Wearable technologies can further improve operational efficiencies within warehouses providing benefits in communication, productivity and safety. As picking and replenishment processes account for up to 70% of operating costs in many warehouses (Andrew Ferguson, 2015), it is a top priority for warehouse operators to increase operational efficiency, productivity and safety through utilising advanced technology, like wearables.
Improved communication: Warehouse employees can improve their communication through voice command devices or smart glasses. They can receive detailed instructions visually through smart glasses, accompanied by two-way audio headsets to enable immediate notifications or instructions relating to activities in their area, ultimately increasing accuracy.
Improved productivity: Manufacturers of wearable voice command technologies believe that these tools have the ability to increase productivity and overall warehouse efficiency by up to 30 per cent (Patrick Van den Bossche, 2016). Warehouse and logistic employees no longer need to hold a tablet, laptop, radio or scanner, leaving both hands free to complete operational activities more quickly. Whether sorting, moving packages or repairing machinery, employees can benefit from real time information to make informed decisions that benefit the customer.
Improved safety: Warehouses are now able to monitor health and stress levels of employees through fitness trackers, and other GPS technology can be used to locate employees easily and prevent them from entering dangerous and hazardous areas. The greater flexibility and mobility of completing tasks by hands-free operation, using paperless processes now increases speed, productivity and safety for tasks such as order picking, packing, dispatching and replenishment.
Wearable technology will play an increasingly vital role in warehouse performance. However a carefully planned and designed warehouse with the right storage system fit-out is the foundation and heartbeat of any warehouse. Bowen Storage provide complete solutions for every aspect of warehouse fitouts – storage planning and design, specification, project management, delivery and installation as well as ongoing after sales service and safety audits.
As global commerce is speeding up, wearable technology could make all the difference for retailers and logistics companies needing to stay ahead of the competition. Bowen Storagecan assist with warehouse layout and storage products to support your warehouse operations becoming more efficient when you leverage wearable technology.