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Global Logistics Focus Sept.19, 2016

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2016 GLOBAL LOGISTICS FOCUS SPECIAL REPORT THE JOURNAL OF COMMERCE 14A THE JOURNAL OF COMMERCE SEPTEMBER 19.2016 electronics company, and Ubimax, a German provider of wearable computing software, used "vision picking" technol- ogy in warehousing operations, guiding staff in the warehouse through graphics displayed on smart glasses, to expedite the picking process and reduce errors. The pilot program proved that the augmented reality software offered value, providing a 25 percent boost to the efficiency of the picking process. "Vision picking enables hands-free order picking and greatly increases productivity. The technology significantly supports our staff and brings exciting value to our cus- tomers," Jan-Willem De Jong, business unit director for technology at DHL Sup- ply Chain Benelux, said in a statement. "However, this is just the first step in our innovation journey, as we believe augmented reality will become relevant for even more supply chain areas." Despite such progress, Gonzalez cautioned, "It is early stage in the sense that some of these technologies are not ready for prime time. And second, those (companies) that are making the invest- ments — or at least investigating what the possibilities are and getting some early learning and possibly some early success — want to keep it under wraps, because if they do find a good path to ROI or to a competitive advantage, they want to make sure they have a head start there before publicizing it." From the perspective of a 3PL or its supply chain partners, Gonzalez also warned that "the worst thing you can do is put in technology in search of a prob- lem. What you want to do is identify the problem and the opportunity, and then see if any of these technologies can have some positive bearing on it." Kristi Montgomery, vice president of Kenco Innovation Labs, provided this advice: "Define the gaps in your process today (relative to) where you need to go and look to see if IoT is the right solution. Make sure your problem is something IoT will solve. I've seen some colleagues actually lose their jobs over presenting the 'Wow!' factor and never getting to what this (technology) is going to deliver to the bottom line at the end of the day." Outside the four walls of the ware- house or factory, van den Bossche said there are applications trucking compa- nies have experimented with, including WEARING IT WELL? MANY OF THE most promising startups developing wearable devices for the ware- house environment have their origins in central European countries — Belgium, Germany and Switzerland — that have strong manufacturing and engineering traditions. These startups include: EVOLAR: This Belgium-based company provides "smartpick," a set of glasses that allows companies to execute all of their activities hands-free because they are supported by augmented reality technology. The company says it can increase warehouse productivity as much as 30 percent by guiding warehouse personnel with its unique visual technology. NOONEE: The Swiss company is developing the Chair- less Chair, an exoskeleton that warehouse or factory employees will wear anywhere by simply locking it into place and then leaning on it whenever they need sup- port. This product will keep workers' backs straight, reducing fatigue as they perform critical tasks. OCULAVIS: By equipping its smart glasses with "oculavis.pick" software, logistics staff can operate warehousing tasks with a single device: receiving, picking and placing instructions; and confirming all of them by scanning 2D codes or augmented interactions with the storage system. Guiding employees through logistics tasks entirely by such visual means improved operational efficiency by as much as 25 percent, Ocu- lavis says. PICAVI: The Germany-based company provides a modular pick-by-vision solution for expanding any warehouse management system, no matter the man- ufacturer of the glasses. Its system keeps workers' hands free, and ensures visual process guidance and improved routes to warehousing tasks. — Alan M. Field Photo sources top to bottom: Picavi GmbH, Evolar, Noonee, Oculavis, Picavi GmbH

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