Consumer demand has always influenced developments in warehousing and supply chain management. In order to meet growing pushes for improved order volume, speed, accuracy, and efficiency, logistics operations have become involved in a perpetual cycle of innovation, experimentation, and implementation of various supply chain services. One of the faster-growing forays in this drive for continual improvement has been the incorporation of wearable technology in supply chain management activities. The use of wearable technology in supply chain management promises more than just the freeing up of hands and the putting away of large terminals. It means connecting workers through the Internet of Things in a way that spurs productivity to heights that were not previously attainable.
How Wearables Can Improve Your Supply Chain
Upgrade Productivity and Efficiency
Supply chains and warehousing activities are filled with numerous time-consuming tasks that can sometimes seem unavoidable. When trucks of product are received, for instance, the packages need to be counted and shipment data entered manually. What if a worker could run their finger over each box so a wearable scanner quickly processes the data and numbers from the barcodes? It might seem like science fiction, but these scanners already exist and have been in use since at least 2012. A more futurist idea might be to use something like Google Glass to track counts with eye movements alone, but even that is not out of the realm of possibility.
Improved Safety and Quality
It is no secret that warehouses can be tough work environments. The physical demands can be straining and will inevitably make even the toughest worker start sweating buckets. Warehouses can get sweltering in summer and frigid in winter. These factors can lead to situations like dehydration, rapid heart rate, blood pressure spikes, and exhaustion that can put the worker and others at risk and increases the possibility of accidents. Wearable technology already exists that can help solve this problem. Fitbits and similar types of body trackers can let managers know when a worker is in need of a break and order them to take the time to recover themselves.
Boosting Speed and Accuracy
Analytics play a large role in finding ways to improve the pace and accuracy of warehousing work, but analysis can only be as good as the data it uses. Wearable technology in supply chain management allows the accumulation of better data and offers the potential to find inefficiencies that might otherwise escape notice. Wearables can notice common errors and speed or efficiency issues faster than humans and could potentially be set to automatically notify when bottlenecks in the process start to appear. The use of wearables can also reduce inefficiency by empowering workers with more information. Instead of relying on fixed-location terminals for product details or inventory counts, a quick “OK Glass” could pull up everything the worker needs without their having to move. When movement is required, wearables can keep workers apprised of any slowdowns or obstructions—such as due to freight loading—that might influence which path they take through the warehouse.
Find Technological Warehousing Options with Lean Supply Solutions
Lean Supply Solutions is a third-party logistics (3PL) fulfillment company whose operations are based around the Lean Methodology, a proven philosophy focused on eliminating any operations, equipment, or resources that are not capable of adding value to clients’ supply chain. By striving to ensure that the right products are provided to the right customers at the right time, Lean Supply Solutions is able to offer consistent, predictable, and quality results. To learn more about the Lean Methodology, outsourcing to Lean Supply Solutions, or to ask any questions, call 905-482-2590.