Mark had been working at the warehouse for three years now, and he knew the ins and outs of the place like the back of his hand. However, even with his experience, he still found it difficult to locate products quickly and accurately when fulfilling orders. It was a constant challenge and one that seemed to be getting worse as the warehouse grew and more products were added to the inventory.
One day, Mark was approached by his manager, who told him about a new technology that the company was implementing to improve inventory management – AR smart glasses. Sounds exciting, thought mark. He quickly donned the glasses and began work.
He looked around the warehouse and saw digital overlays of inventory locations displayed on the glasses lenses. It was like having a virtual map of the warehouse right in front of him, and he was amazed at how quickly he was able to locate the products he needed.
Mark soon realized that he was able to fulfill orders much faster than ever before. He no longer had to waste time searching for items or asking colleagues for help. Instead, a short glance through his AR smart glasses let him know exactly where each product was.
The impact of the new technology was immediate and profound. The warehouse’s order fulfillment times improved dramatically, and customers were happier than ever before. Mark’s manager was thrilled with the results, and the company began implementing augmented reality systems across all of its warehouses.
The impact of AR on warehouse operations
This was a made-up story to give you an idea of what we’ll be talking about. Indeed, augmented reality technology has great potential when it comes to warehouse logistics. With its ability to overlay digital information onto the physical world, AR is creating new opportunities for warehouse management to improve logistics, reduce costs, and increase speed.
AR smart glasses or MR headsets provide warehouse workers with real-time information about the location of products, inventory levels, and the status of orders, allowing them to work more quickly and efficiently.
This information can be displayed directly in front of the worker’s eyes, freeing up their hands to focus on other tasks. It also results in fewer errors, which can lead to significant cost savings and a better customer experience. And that’s just part of the benefits. Let’s discuss them in detail.
How AR warehouse tools help solve the biggest challenges
Efficient inventory management
One of the biggest challenges that warehouses face is the management of inventory and an efficient picking process. With vast amounts of products stored in large facilities, it can be difficult to locate the right items when fulfilling orders quickly. This can lead to delays in order fulfillment, increased labor costs, and unhappy customers.
As we’ve already said, augmented reality technologies have the potential to solve this challenge by providing warehouse workers with real-time information about the location of products. An app could even determine the location of employees using markers placed around the space and guide them to their destination like an enhanced GPS!
But augmented reality glasses cost a fortune, right? Yes, the devices may be quite expensive. However, almost anybody nowadays owns a perfectly good AR device – a smartphone or tablet with a camera. It’s even forecasted that by the end of 2023, around 1.4 billion people will be using AR-capable devices (source: XR Today)!
So your employees can use a cheap off-the-shelf phone and see digital overlays of inventory locations, making it easier to find products quickly and accurately. This can save time and increase productivity, ultimately leading to improved business operations like faster order fulfillment and increased customer satisfaction.
Another challenge warehouses face is the need for accurate tracking and monitoring of inventory levels and overall warehouse management. Inaccurate inventory tracking can lead to overstocking, understocking, and disruptions to the supply chain.
AR warehouse technology can help address this challenge by providing warehouse managers and workers with real-time inventory data. Displaying this data in a visual format using augmented reality overlays makes it easier to identify trends, monitor inventory levels, and improve warehouse planning.
If you equip your employees with an augmented reality app and device they walk around with, you can receive real-time insights into the routes they take and the efficiency of their processes. By tracking worker movements and product flow, warehouse managers can identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies and make data-driven decisions to improve their workflows.
Safety of employees
Finally, workplace safety is a concern in warehouses. After all, workers often operate heavy machinery or work in close proximity to it. But augmented reality can also provide workers with real-time alerts and warnings about potential hazards.
For example, workers can be alerted if they are getting too close to a forklift or if they are working in an area where heavy machinery is operating. This should reduce accidents and injuries, creating a safer work environment for everyone involved. What’s more, there are certified smart glasses out there that not only run AR software but also protect the eyes of their user.
The role of AR in automated warehouse management processes
Let’s say your warehouse logistics are fully automatic, meaning automated storage, dedicated robots run the picking process, and specially designed cameras take care of quality control. How can augmented reality help with most operations done by robots?
In this case, it can assist in maintenance and repair tasks for automated systems. The real-time data and visualizations of equipment status it provides can be super helpful for staff responsible for upkeeping the automated systems.
AR warehouse software can also display detailed maintenance instructions after pointing at any specific device. This way, even less skilled workers can perform basic repairs, for example.
Augmented reality for remote support
One more great utilization of augmented reality in warehouse processes is remote support applications. The way remote support AR applications work is by using cameras and, optionally, other sensors to capture and transmit live video and audio feeds to a technician or expert who’s not physically present on site.
The expert can use this feed to see what the on-site worker is seeing and provide guidance and support through annotations, voice instructions, or virtual overlays in the real-world environment. This can include labeling items, pointing out errors, or providing step-by-step instructions.
The on-site worker wears a mobile device or a pair of smart glasses that allows them to see the AR overlays and interact with the remote technician. They can also use the device to communicate with the technician through voice or chat.
Overall, remote support AR applications can improve warehouse processes by providing efficient and effective support to workers, reducing downtime, and increasing productivity.
How can virtual reality improve warehouse operations?
We’ve talked a lot about AR warehouse solutions, so it’s only fair if we mention its sister technology – virtual reality. VR has the potential to improve the efficiency of warehouse operations and enhance warehouse management. How? Read on to find out.
Virtual reality can provide workers with hands-on training in a safe and controlled environment, reducing the risk of injury or damage to equipment. Workers can practice operating machinery, procedures and emergency scenarios in a virtual environment that simulates real-world scenarios.
What’s so great about VR training is that it’s consistent and automatic. Once you develop the software and buy a few headsets, you can use it for all your current and future employees. No additional costs and consistent quality make it the most effective way of training your staff.
Planning warehouse layout
Another way you can use VR is through virtual representations of warehouses, allowing managers and workers to explore and test different layouts, workflows, and equipment configurations. This realistic simulation can help optimize the use of space, improve worker safety, and reduce costs by identifying potential issues before implementation.
We’ve worked on a similar project in the past. It was a floor plan optimization in virtual reality for a marketing agency. The visualization tool provided analytic insights and facilitated the optimization of commercial space and consumer purchasing paths in brick and mortars.
AR warehouse management solutions in your company
In conclusion, the integration of augmented reality technology in warehouse management has the potential to revolutionize logistics operations. By providing real-time information, increasing accuracy, and enhancing safety, AR is enabling warehouses to operate more efficiently and effectively than ever before.
With the ongoing development of new augmented reality applications, we can expect to see even greater future benefits and opportunities for innovation. But there is no reason to wait. Harness the power of AR technologies today and take your business operation to the next level.
If you’d like to discuss how an AR or VR application could help your company, leave us a message. We’ll schedule a free 60-minute consultation with our experts to find the best way to improve your everyday work!