July 19, 2019
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Seeing is believing

Seeing is believing

Pick-by-vision project speeds up case-handling and cart-picking processes at supply chain solutions provider Arvato's DC.

By Victoria Kickham

Logistics and supply chain solutions specialist Arvato Supply Chain Solutions is helping its customers get orders out the door even faster these days thanks to new pick-by-vision technology implemented in a joint project at its Gütersloh, Germany, logistics center. The project called for incorporating Picavi's pick-by-vision technology into Arvato's fulfillment operations for its longtime customer Germany-based Sennheiser, a manufacturer of high-fidelity products such as headphones, microphones, and telephone accessories. Arvato is responsible for worldwide logistics for the Sennheiser Group's products at the Arvato distribution center in Gütersloh, including picking, packing, and shipping services. The pick-by-vision system has yielded double-digit productivity improvements in the picking process while increasing order accuracy and streamlining workers' tasks, company leaders say.

The end result? A collaborative process that the partners say will continue to enhance efficiency in their global fulfillment operations.

SMART GLASSES, RING SCANNERS, AND MORE

Arvato and Sennheiser started their pick-by-vision project in late 2016 and saw immediate results, which led them to upgrade and enhance the system as Picavi's technology evolved. Most recently, the project included the addition of a new generation of smart glasses, software updates, and graphically optimized user interfaces that make it even easier for Arvato's pickers to access order information in real time and scan bar codes via the glasses—all while keeping their hands free for picking tasks. The most recent technology upgrade also included supplemental "ring scanners," which workers wear on their finger and are connected to the smart glasses via Bluetooth wireless technology. The ring scanners allow workers to scan items that are far away, difficult to access, or stored in poorly lit locations, the company explains, helping Arvato's pickers accelerate the bar-code reading process.

"In practice, we identified that the order picking—in particular, the scanning process of articles—required the highest level of accuracy from our employees, which was sometimes difficult to maintain," Ken Taylor, head of innovation for Arvato's Hightech & Entertainment business unit, said in a statement.

"Compared with the other data-reading devices we use, we are 15 to 18 percent faster in the cart [picking] process with the pick-by-vision solution including the ring scanners," added Thomas Becker, the unit's executive vice president, in the statement.

Company leaders say the pick-by-vision system has expedited case-handling operations as well, and that they plan to implement the technology to improve other aspects of their overall logistics function.

"We are very pleased to have achieved a clear added value for our warehouse process chain with this optimization," Taylor said. "In doing so, we are also following our innovation strategy: We continuously monitor digital solutions and technologies, and check their potential value. Using and developing such solutions and generating efficiency advantages in the next step is an important part of our innovation culture."

About the Author

Victoria Kickham
Senior Editor
Victoria Kickham started her career as a newspaper reporter in the Boston area before moving into B2B journalism. She has covered manufacturing, distribution and supply chain issues for a variety of publications in the industrial and electronics sectors, and now writes about everything from forklift batteries to omnichannel business trends for DC Velocity.

More articles by Victoria Kickham

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