Augmented reality, or AR, is a very exciting (and very useful) emerging technology.
For those who don’t already know, AR is a technology that involves overlaying digital images on the real-world environment. A user looks through a camera or wears an AR headset to see both real and digital worlds simultaneously.
The most famous example of AR is the Pokémon Go game, where Pokémon characters appear in the real world (via a user’s smartphone camera).
But AR isn’t just about fun and games. In this post, we’ll look at how you can create an augmented reality warehouse using AR to solve common problems facing warehouse management and staff.
Common problems in warehouse logistics
Before getting into the benefits of creating an augmented reality warehouse, let’s look at some common problems facing warehouse logistics.
These are challenges you may have faced — or are currently facing — and they’re all problems that AR can help solve.
Lack of efficiency
As your business grows and your inventory expands, new aisles, shelves, and boxes are added throughout your warehouse. This expansion tends to happen organically rather than strategically.
And this results in disorganised and inefficient inventory.
Rather than carefully planning routes within your warehouse and streamlining your inventory to suit these routes, items are placed on a first-come, first-served basis.
This presents a challenge for warehouses, as the options are often to rethink the entire warehouse system or simply continue as is. Neither is ideal.
Time wasted searching for products
Another common warehouse inefficiency? Spending excessive time searching for products.
When a warehouse is laid out inefficiently, it becomes very difficult for staff to find what they’re looking for. Items don’t have a designated spot and aren’t placed in a way that makes them easy to find.
Without the necessary structure, employees can spend several minutes locating ordered items, adding significant time to each order.
This problem inevitably snowballs. Your entire operation slows down, which costs you more in resources and negatively impacts the customer experience.
Poor inventory management
In many ways, successful inventory management is the backbone of a smooth warehouse operation. If the right amount of inventory is stocked, then the inventory can run at a reasonable pace.
But today, warehouse managers often need more inventory oversight. Numbers are sometimes inaccurate, making it difficult to know when to reorder items. This then leads to overages or shortages at critical points in time.
Without the help of new technologies, like augmented reality warehouse tech, keeping tabs on inventory can never be totally efficient and error-free
Trouble with tracking and tracing your inventory
Warehouses often need help with tracking and tracing their inventory.
Barcodes are helpful. But they require a line of sight and are difficult to automate. This can lead to issues with inventory management, as well as overall traceability. Traceability is an important consideration, especially in the healthcare and food and beverage sectors. These sectors rely on data to ensure that the products they receive are safe for use.
How an augmented reality warehouse can help streamline your operations
Now that we’ve looked at the challenges of warehouse logistics, it’s time to explore the solutions that an augmented reality warehouse can offer.
Below are some of the key ways that using AR in a warehouse setting can change the way you work for the better.
Better warehouse planning
The first key way that augmented reality can improve your warehouse logistics is by assisting in warehouse planning.
Management can use AR headsets and cameras to see what shelves, products, and materials will look like when placed in reality.
Rather than taking a manual approach — drawing a layout on a piece of paper and imagining what it will look like in real life — with AR, you can actually see the layout and get instant feedback on it.
This means you can create an organised and efficient warehouse layout in a fraction of the time.
Improving your inventory management
Currently, most floor workers get stock information by scanning product barcodes and checking the information with an app.
This takes a fair bit of time and provides minimal spatial information.
With AR, workers can see inventory information as products move past them without the need to scan them.
What’s more, they can get instant insights, like a trail mapping where products are, real-time stock level data, and more.
Simplifying order picking
Onto order picking. One of the most important yet inefficient aspects of warehouse logistics.
AR can help you overhaul the process by showing product data in real-time as workers move through a warehouse.
All it takes is a quick look around, and workers will see where stock is located, how much stock is left, and what orders have come in. This substantially reduces the amount of time a worker spends picking each individual order.
Making warehouse navigation easier
The final benefit of an augmented reality warehouse? Easier warehouse navigation.
Currently, most warehouses give workers an aisle, shelf, and/or bin number to help them locate products. For new workers, this can be daunting and inefficient.
With augmented reality, however, workers can see where items are located thanks to highlights from AR headsets. The headset could also display a pathway on the ground, showing the worker where to go, making it much easier and faster to traverse the warehouse floor.
The augmented reality warehouse will soon be the new norm
Every few years, a new technology arises with the power to completely transform our workplace. The augmented reality warehouse is one of those technologies.
AR can help increase efficiency, allow for better warehouse planning and provide real-time assistance to workers on the warehouse floor.
Looking for more tools to assist in your inventory management? Reach out to Workhorse today to find out how we can help.