Warehouse management executives now have plenty of options when it comes to software that boosts efficiency, including next-gen warehouse management systems. Moreover, the advantage a modern WMS provides is the ability to collect data from a wide variety of new sources, and also provide real-time feedback to workers on the shop floor. With this in mind, it's wise for executives to consider the ways emerging types of wearable tech will make their operations run more smoothly at just about every level.
For instance, wearables such as voice-activated devices that connect to a central WMS may soon be able to gain a foothold in the logistics industry because of the nature of the job and a specific advantage they provide, according to the Internet of Business. The fact is that most wearables have to be activated by touch, but workers in the warehouse don't always have a free hand to press a button. As such, voice activation may be able to provide a significant advantage.
"You're distracted. You're encumbered. You need to put paper lists or scanners down in order to free up your hands," Chris Heslop, senior marketing manager at Honeywell, told the site. "You're not as productive as you might be and maybe you're not as accurate."
How much can voice activation help?
When a worker activates the voice technology, they may be able to ask complicated questions such as how many of a certain item remain in stock, or where they need to go to pull it from the shelves, the report said. Heslop notes that this kind of hands-free assistance can boost productivity by as much as 25 percent, and further improve accuracy rates in their picking and packing efforts. Voice-activated tech may be especially helpful in allowing new hires to learn the ropes more quickly and easily.
Other options proliferating
Meanwhile, as wearable technology itself becomes cheaper to produce and easier to integrate into WMS software, more companies are coming out with their own options designed to help meet specific warehouse goals, according to Logistics Management. These days, new options typically come in the form of augmented- and even virtual-reality apps that help identify issues within warehouses, guide workers through a facility with the greatest possible efficiency, and keep better tabs on the supply chain.
One potential function of an AR platform – either on a smartphone, tablet or even smart glasses – in particular would be to automatically show any employee who looks at a packed box what's in it, how much it weighs, whether it needs to be handled a certain way and so on, according to EBN Online. That, in turn, can inform decisions about how best to ship that item, and even speed up efficiency in that shipping process.
With these options emerging at what seems like an ever-increasing rate, executives need to research all their options and see how well they will integrate into their current (or next) WMS platforms. Having the ability to successfully boost efficiency even in small ways can provide a significant return on investment over the course of a few years.