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Global Logistics Focus Sept.19, 2016

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2016 GLOBAL LOGISTICS FOCUS SPECIAL REPORT THE JOURNAL OF COMMERCE Alabama State Port Authority THE PORT OF MOBILE WHERE Southern comfort AND GLOBAL TRADE collide. AND THE JOURNAL OF COMMERCE 11A FROM GOOGLE GLASS and Fitbit to GoPro and the Apple Watch, an ever-wider range of wearable devices have captured the attention of the world's consumers. Now that fascination is emerg ing in warehousing and distribution, where technology such as voice recognition is being packaged with smart glasses to provide video, scanning, and other capa- bilities to increase productivity, reduce mistakes, and lower costs across the sup- ply chain. The valuable data these commer- cial devices collect and share comprises "everything about how the product is picked, packed, and made," according to Patrick van den Bossche, a partner with global management consulting fi rm A.T. Kearney. Like their counterparts in the con- s u mer m a rket place , s upply ch a i n wearables are worn as wrist-wear, eye- wear, neckwear, and body wear. Brands such as Vuzix, Microsoft Hololens, and Noonee are expected to gain traction in manufacturing and distribution, said Adrian Gonzalez, president of Adelante SCM. Thanks to the increased processing speed of their chips, the greater capacity of their batteries, and the growing precision of the sensor technologies they deploy, the devices will continue to become smaller, faster, easier to use, and more laden with features. For the moment, however, the pres- ence in the overall market for wearables is modest. Although wearable voice systems and scanners have been used for several years in warehousing, these enterprise and industrial wearables still comprise a small portion of the overall market for wearables, measured in unit volumes and revenue, according to a recent study by Tractica, a Boulder, Colorado-based research fi rm. The report forecasts that worldwide shipments for enterprise and industrial wearables will increase from 2.3 million units in 2015 to 66.4 million units annually by 2021, a more than 30-fold increase in just six years. Over that period, a cumu- lative total of 171.9 million wearables are projected to be shipped for use in enter- prise and industrial environments. "For a number of years now, there has been this constant evolution and march toward trying to automate parts of the distribution process," Gonzalez said. "At the one end of the extreme are the KiVa Ama- zon robots, and similar types of autonomous robots. Like anything else, some of these technologies are a good fi t for certain kinds of distribution environments, and not so much for other." As more retailers turn toward multichan- nel marketing, "a lot of the activity right now is in the e-commerce environment — try- ing to automate and provide more effi cient picking and put-away processes for e-com- merce," where sales growth is faster than in By Alan M. Field

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