Mobile & Wireless: Keeping an eye on visualization

By Bob Trebilcock, Executive Editor
September 30, 2011 - MMH Editorial

We have all heard about the advantages of voice technology in the DC: hands free and eyes free picking. What about a vision-based data collection system that is essentially hands free and ears free?

That’s a concept developed by Knapp Logistics Automation. The solution integrates a wearable, head-mounted display and camera to direct picking activities and capture information – I’ll provide more on how it works in a moment. It was developed in conjunction with a European pharmaceutical distributor that is using the solution in Estonia.

“The ability to capture and trace serial and lot information as well as security are becoming big issues in the medical, pharmaceutical and health care markets,” says Jerry Johnson, marketing manager for Knapp in the US. “This technology adds visualization to a picking process that might otherwise have been pick-to-light, voice or handheld bar code scanning up to this point.”

The operator wears a head piece that includes a visual display to guide the operator along the optimal route for picking and a camera-based imaging system that can identify and capture product identification information, including lot and serial numbers that might be contained in a QR code. 

In that sense, the system is doing with one technology what a multi-modal voice and bar code scanning solution does with two technologies: instead of confirming a pick with voice and capturing lot and serial number by scanning a bar code, the camera does both.

The system works like this. When the operator looks into the display, arrows tell him to turn left or right or continue straight ahead. At the picking location, a QR code is highlighted in the display as is the picking bin and the number of items to be picked from that bin.

As the operator removes the items from the bins, the camera confirms the pick and removes the picked items from inventory. In addition to capturing an image of the QR code, the camera captures images of the picking process that can be stored on a server if there is a question about the order at a later date.

If you make a wrong pick, the error is highlighted in the display. The system also prevents the operator from moving on to the next task until the right item is picked.

“The ROI comes from accuracy and security,” says Johnson. “In the Estonia implementation, it has been 100% accurate. And, as with pick-to-light, you can have multiple operators in a zone because the system will optimize the pick routes.”

In verticals where information like lot, serial or catch weight is important, it strikes me that the ability to automatically capture that additional information with one step rather than two is another potential benefit.

More importantly, at Modern, we’re seeing more providers incorporate some aspect of visualization into their solutions. It’s a trend we plan to watch.



About the Author

Bob Trebilcock
Executive Editor

Bob Trebilcock, executive editor, has covered materials handling, technology and supply chain topics for Modern Materials Handling since 1984. More recently, Trebilcock became editorial director of Supply Chain Management Review. A graduate of Bowling Green State University, Trebilcock lives in Keene, NH. He can be reached at 603-357-0484.


Subscribe to Logistics Management magazine

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Get timely insider information that you can use to better manage your
entire logistics operation.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Recent Entries

The PMI, the ISM’s index to measure growth fell 0.8 percent to 52.7 (a PMI of 50 or greater represents growth). PMI growth has been at 50 or higher for 31 straight months (with the overall economy growing for 74 months), and the current PMI is 1.7 percent below the 12-month average of 54.4.

The current status of FedEx’ planned acquisition of Netherlands-based TNT-NV and a provider of mail and courier services and the fourth largest global parcel operator for $4.8 billion, which was initially announced in April, remains in flux, with continued actions being taken by the European Commission.

Panjiva said that the 1 percent sequential growth was in line with typically flat growth from May to June, as higher monthly growth typically takes hold in July and August in advance of the holiday season.

Hackett officials described this new offering as a short-term index that offers up “the sentiment for trade at a glance,” akin to other key economic metrics like the PMI and Consumer and Carrier confidence indices, while providing access to specifically see where a group of economic indicators are in relation to trade for the current month, too.

While many industry analysts contend that distribution centers near U.S. East Coast ports will see a surge of new business after the Panama Canal expansion, real estate experts say this phenomena is already underway.

About the Author

Bob Trebilcock, editorial director, has covered materials handling, technology, logistics and supply chain topics for nearly 30 years. In addition to Supply Chain Management Review, he is also Executive Editor of Modern Materials Handling. A graduate of Bowling Green State University, Trebilcock lives in Keene, NH. He can be reached at 603-357-0484 or email [email protected].

Comments

Post a comment
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.