Industry Expert: Stow Australia's Martin Bates Talks Storage Solutions
As supply chains globally demand higher efficiency, accuracy and speed, it is important to stay ahead of the technology curve. I recently attended the LogiMAT international Trade Show for Intralogistics Solutions and Process Management. I, along with 55,300 other industry professionals and over 1500 international exhibitors, was able to view some outstanding new technologies.
Exhibitors from nearly 40 countries – including some 360 first-time exhibitors and more than 50 major players from North America, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand – presented their products and solutions for efficient intralogistics processes across an exhibit area filling 117,000 square metres. Before the event started, exhibitors had announced they would present 122 innovations never before exhibited anywhere in the world.
One innovation of particular interest was a new picking technology from Picavi, called ‘pick by vision’. Similar to the heads-up display (HUD) a lot of modern cars now have on the windscreen, the system utilises “smart” glasses to direct functions, such as picking and putting away, visually to the operators.
The system simplifies the workflow, whilst making it more efficient. The solution saves time, reduces error rates, lowers fatigue among staff, and ensures strict process guidance in order to allow for route optimisation of all processes.
Even today, in the digital age, a large proportion of warehouse logistics work is still done using paper pick slips. These contain all items that must be compiled or “picked” for an order, and usually involve long lists that the picker has to work their way through. This can often lead to errors, especially at high pick densities. Furthermore, picking using paper lists has become inefficient and extremely time consuming. Although pick by scan, using handheld devices or terminals, represents a digital solution for displaying pick list information, the worker’s hands are still not free for the main job of picking.
Newer “hands free” systems such as pick by light or pick by voice offer a more efficient alternative. Using pick by light, the picker is guided through the warehouse to the relevant items using lighting elements. Once the item is found, it is usually scanned using a hand scanner. As this requires the lighting elements to be installed at the intended storage space, pick by light represents an expensive and inflexible alternative.
Pick by voice was the first system that allowed the picker to keep both hands free, as they are guided through the warehouse by speech. It soon became clear, however, that constant listening quickly led to fatigue and reduced performance among staff. Pick by voice also works with so-called check digits, where the picker speaks to verify that they are at the right location and have picked the right item.
The vision pick system is the first system in the world to have turned pick by vision – an order picking system using smart glasses – from an idea to a market-ready solution for intralogistics. This combines the benefits of pick by light and pick by voice by visually guiding the picker through the warehouse using a highly flexible and adjustable system. Think of it as a “display to go”. This is an important feature, as 80% of the information presented to us every day is taken in and processed visually. Working with smart glasses makes visual guidance easy, flexible, and hands free. The integrated barcode scanner makes work simpler and less tiring.
The picker receives all the information they need in real time via the glasses, allowing them to reliably check storage spaces and item numbers at all times. The compulsory scanning verifies that the correct item has been picked, all while the picker has both hands free at all times. Not only does this approach enable immense time savings, it also significantly reduces the error rate to virtually zero.
Vision picking is a hands-free solution, which removes the need to pick up and safely place a terminal or hand held scanner. This makes work easier, and also makes the process more efficient and reduces the error rate. It has even been demonstrated that the smart glasses also bring ergonomic advantages, with pickers suffering less fatigue and physical stress.
As labour rates continue to climb, picking/putting away efficiency savings generate a genuine cost edge. Early data from sites utilising vision pick indicates the system is “up to 20%” more efficient than conventional picking systems.
Whilst Stow Australia is ultimately a storage solutions provider, it’s exciting to see and be a part of “the future” of warehousing in Australia with a system like vision pick, allowing us to stay ahead of the curve and provide for the growing demands of our biggest cities.
About Stow Australia
Stow Australia is Australia’s leading pallet racking and warehouse storage solutions company. At Stow Australia we design and install innovative, cost effective storage solutions nation wide. Our dedicated teams of designers, project managers and installers have all worked on Australia’s largest storage projects and bring wealth of experience, knowledge and comfort to our customers. Stow Australia is part of the Stow Group which has 40+ offices and 3 production plants globally. All Stow products are designed at our international headquarters in Europe and are manufactured to the strictest standards.
For further information contact:
National Sales Manager
+61 423 887 195