Pick-by-Vision is a picking process in which a picker uses data glasses and context-related information to compile articles or goods for customer or production orders. The data glasses, also known as smart glasses, not only continuously supply the employee on his tour with information on the respective order; the glasses also show the order picker in which shelf or on which pallet an article is located. In addition, depending on the software, the shortest and therefore most efficient route to the storage location can be displayed. Usually the position of the respective staff member is permanently recorded by a tracking system.

Manual picking systems (man-to-goods) are still frequently used despite increasing digitalisation because of their high flexibility. On the one hand, these systems are prone to errors due to the human factor; however, due to the digitalized process steps within order picking, faulty picks are now rare. Pick-by-Vision is intended to further reduce the error rate in the future. If, for example, the barcodeprinted on the storage location is held in the field of vision (scanner) of the Smart Glass, the system installed on it informs the order picker whether he has picked up the right goods and in what quantity these items must be collected. In addition, some systems allow the article to be picked to be depicted simultaneously (see video).

Note: The Use-Case presented on the data glasses is known as Augmented Reality, or AR for short. It is intended as a digital extension of the human perception of reality.

In recent years, a number of picking processes have become established on the market. Starting with Pick-by-Paper, where orders are processed on the basis of a receipt. On the document (picking slip) itself, the storage location, article number and quantity are noted. Disadvantage: Only at the end of the tour is a stock comparison with the Warehouse Management System or the ERP system carried out. Further procedures are Pick-by-Light, Pick-by-Scan (Pick-by-MDT) and Pick-by-Voice. In order to have both hands free and to do without handhelds or to avoid high investments for the required infrastructure (pick-by-light), many experts see a picking variant with data glasses as more than just a trend. In their opinion, Pick-by-Vision combines the advantages of Pick-by-Voice and Pick-by-Light in one system.

Pick-by-Vision – the overview

  • Context-sensitive display of all data required for the picking process
  • Communication via an interaction device (voice input)
  • Communication via gestures (wave)
  • Communication via an external device
  • Data exchange with the higher-level system (WMS)
  • Online via radio link (WLAN)

Technical requirements

  • Camera
  • Processor for calculating the input and output
  • Sensors for orientation (accelerometer, gyroscope)
  • Individual software for logic and content
  • Display for the presentation of Augmented Reality
  • Sensors for position determination (local coordinate system)
  • Database (pictures, product information)
  • Interfaces to warehouse management system, ERP system

Advantages of Pick-by-Vision

  • Advantages of Pick-by-Vision
  • Increase of the picking speed
  • High picking quality
  • Digital Picklist, Article description
  • Marking of the storage compartment / withdrawal container
  • Navigation to the extraction point
  • Marking of the storage location (picking cart)
  • Suitable for different bearing types
  • Direct stock reconciliation with storage system
  • Audiovisual assistance
  • High flexibility with regard to employees, location
  • Low training costs
  • Reduction of travel time, base time, dead time

Disadvantages of Pick-by-Vision

  • Data glasses must be suitable for industrial use
  • Low battery life – external battery packs required
  • Seamless WLAN coverage required (100 percent)
  • Lack of acceptance among older employees
  • There may be a health hazard due to dizziness induced by the integrated displays
  • Eyeglass wearers require additional expensive lenses
  • It takes practice to fix the scan exactly to the spot (barcode). If several barcodes are affixed next to each other, it becomes increasingly difficult to detect the matching one

Summary: Pick-by-Vision in practice

Pick-by-Vision in order picking is already being tested at DHL.
Pick-by-Vision is a relief for the employee especially in order picking. Image: DHL

The employee is guided through the entire picking order via the information displayed on the data glasses. The internal navigation system guides him directly to the storage location and the optical display shows the article and pick number. With the scanner integrated in the data glasses, the picking process is finally confirmed and completed. Through the use of Augmented Reality (AR), the normal field of vision of the user is extended by helpful information generated by the WMS or related systems.

Important: It should also be mentioned that visual AR technology in industrial environments is still in its infancy (status 2017). On the one hand, the glasses are still not sufficiently robust enough in many situations; on the other hand, technologies such as WLAN and Bluetooth either interfere with each other or are influenced by environmental factors (steel construction, liquids or other materials).

Further information about data glasses and AR technology can also be found in the practical test of our media partner Dr. Thomas + Partner: Data glasses in intralogistics – Part 1: Google Glass 1 in testing/ Data glasses in intralogistics – Part 2: Vuzix Smart Glasses M100 in testing

Teaser image: DHL-Pressebereich

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