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Working with wearables in the warehouse
23 June, 2022
Maarten de Bakker
23 June, 2022
Maarten de Bakker
Wearables have often been lauded, and they have become indispensable in countless industries. So too in the logistics sector. And not surprising because, as predicted, wearables in the warehouse bring countless benefits. The portable scanner is on the rise, even in Dutch warehouses.
Worn on the wrist or as a ring, wearables were not always user-friendly. The rapid rise of ProGlove is therefore striking but not entirely unexpected. The German manufacturer of “the lightest, smallest, and strongest barcode scanner in the world” has spearheaded ergonomics in its product development; the lightweight scanner is placed on the outside of the hand.
The company is growing very fast and conquering the world. Especially now that the practical usefulness of the new technology has been proven with its adoption by major forerunners in, for example, the automotive industry (BMW), manufacturing (Bosch), retail (MediaMarkt) and logistics (DHL), the way is now open for the Dutch logistics sector as well. The response from competing scanner manufacturers has not failed to materialize, and they too are now betting more on such wearable handheld scanners in order picking in particular.
One of the first in the Netherlands to start using these wearables is Bouw Logistic Services of Nijkerk. With tens of thousands of pallets spread over 42,000 square meters of storage and products from multiple importers, including millions of bottles of wine, Bouw Logistic Services of Nijkerk is a major player in the logistics market for wine and spirits. In addition, the 90-year-old family business specializes in white goods and deliveries to difficult locations such as construction sites.
As is well known, logistics service providers are dealing with increasingly demanding customers who expect, and receive, ever higher margins of flexibility and speed. “It’s about cost reductions and efficiency improvements in the chain,” said Theo van Domselaar, commercial manager at Bouw Logistic Services. Trouble-free implementation and integration of such new systems and equipment is essential to this, though, in addition to adoption of the technology by users on the floor.
But cost savings from faster order picking is not the only benefit of wearables in the warehouse. For example, Bouw Logistic Services quickly received feedback from its shop floor colleagues that the work has become easier and more enjoyable. The fact that this is also a lot more efficient is a huge win-win for the entire company. So the total implementation resulted not only in huge cost savings but also in increased job satisfaction.
And-and. Not either-or.
As often with the application of new technologies and products such as wearables in logistics, no one solution is the right one and with which the entire logistics process can be managed. Additional resources and integrations with a WMS or ERP will always be necessary to fully cover and optimize complexity. Open systems with APIs and secure data exchange is therefore important.
But just as important is a system integrator who has the knowledge and experience to work with the end user to arrive at that combination of hardware, software and services that best fits the specific logistics challenges. Because every logistics process is different, in every industry and with every organization. Therefore, our customers get the benefits of wearable solutions, but always integrated with other solutions that suit their organization.
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