After the Augmented Driving, another industry in which augmented reality will hold a key role is logistics. From warehousing operations to enhanced value-added services, AR can be a game changer and here are the reasons why.
To begin with, AR has the potential to significantly reduce cost by improving the picking process. Indeed, while warehousing operations account for 20% of all logistics costs, picking tasks represent around 60% of the total cost of warehousing operations. The use of augmented reality could strongly improve the picking process as each worker can see the digital picking list in their field of vision and thus, reduce their travel time thanks an efficient path planning. Plus, the travel time can also be optimized thanks the use of automated barcode scanning capabilities that shows the location of a product or a worker in real-time. To illustrate this first part, watch this video on vision picking at DHL.
Another bullet point of logistic is the transportation of a product from point A to point B, working for any industry. Here, AR has the potential to further optimize freight transportation in areas such as completeness checks, international trade, driver navigation, and freight loading.
To save time and detect damages, checks have to be done before and after a delivery. To optimize check-up processes, augmented reality devices can register when a delivery is complete and ready for pick-up and then capture pallet and parcel numbers and volume. At the end, the automated confirmation of pick-up after the correct number of undamaged parcels is recognised.
Augmented reality is also a good option to improve international trades as AR devices can check trade document and identify commodity code classification, but also provide a real-time translation of labels or foreign trade terms.
In terms of traffic support, AR can for instance be used to optimize navigation systems in delivery vehicles by being implemented in windshields (see my article on Augmented Driving), this amelioration permits drivers to have in their sights more information, such as obstacles or the next delivery point, and thus, having a faster and safer travel. In addition, AR can speed up the freight loading process by providing to freight loaders storage plans directly in their AR devices.
At the end of the value chain stands the last-mile delivery that is the section in which goods are handed over to the recipient. Here, augmented reality could be used to improve parcel handling. Indeed, through an AR device, equip staff of a company could see a bunch of information concerning the parcel such as the type of good being transported, parcel’s weight, delivery address, even the precaution to take if the good is fragile or requires specific positioning!
Finally, AR devices can allow providers to perform new services for their customers. Indeed, AR glasses (for instance) could allow assembly and repair teams to perform specific tasks, seeing step-by-step instructions through the device. Plus, it would also reduce the employee training cost.
To finish, have a look to this graphic, showing the impact that Augmented reality might have in a few years in different industries (source: Xcubelab) :
This article is based on the DHL study “Augmented Reality in logistics, changing the way we see logistics – A DHL perspective” (2014). See the study in PDF here.