But with workflows so refined in warehouses – that a 1 or 2% gain in productivity per year is seen as a result – there appears little room for manoeuvre. However, technology, especially the devices carried by your teams, is now expanding productivity horizons. Take, for example, our new Total Wearable Solution – the subject of a series of videos – which achieves productivity gains of 15% per user along with a 39% reduction in error rates.
A TOTAL SOLUTION
At the centre of our Total Wearable Solution is the WT6000 wrist-mounted computer. It benefits from everything we’ve learnt from working alongside and observing teams, and feedback from users, over the 18 years since we first introduced wearable computers into the warehouse. Some of the important design cues include:
Enhanced ergonomics: The unit’s 27% smaller and weighs 36% less than our previous wearables.
A customised fit: A smart and simple wristband can be micro-adjusted with one hand using a twist of a locking knob to tighten or release. The strap’s made of breathable materials so it’s comfortable to wear over long periods and it ensures there are no hygiene issues; you simply give each worker their own band and they clip on a WT6000.
Built for the warehouse: The warehouse creates what we call ‘disabling’ factors: it’s noisy, there’s variable lighting and people are under pressure to pick quickly and accurately – all these impede performance. The WT6000 supports its user in overcoming these issues with a large and bright screen; an Android operating system that’s familiar to smartphone users; loud and clear audio; programmable hard keys for most-used applications; a sensitive microphone (with headsets) for speaking tasks; and a battery that can be replaced with one hand and is ‘hot swappable’, enabling continuous use.
The Total Wearable Solution includes supporting hardware – with the most powerful ring scanners available, Bluetooth and corded headsets and flexible charging accessories (the same battery is used in the wearable unit and the ring scanners) – and our Mobility DNA suite of software. With Mobility DNA you can easily develop apps for, and load and upgrade, any number of wearable devices with your software, add security features to Android and remotely monitor your devices. It also includes a range of ready-to-go apps that, for example, make it easier to scan, capture and integrate data with your back office. Mobility DNA lowers your cost of ownership in many areas. For instance, by monitoring the way your teams charge batteries, you can encourage best practice and benefit from maximum productivity.
MORE NATURAL, MORE POWERFUL
So where do the productivity gains and reduction in error rates come from with our Total Wearable Solution? The main area is sheer usability; by keeping hands-free, basing the interface around Android and ensuring the technology is comfortable to wear, people work instinctively.
But it’s also down to the benefits of what we call ‘multi-modal picking’. By using our TekSpeech Pro 4 software, you can easily create voice-guided picking apps that direct your people through tasks using a combination of the WT6000’s features – from reading instructions, to keying in data, or scanning barcodes using the ring scanner. Users can also talk back to the device – confirming things like a successful pick and the number of items that they’ve collected.
DO BELIEVE THE HYPE
The technology sector can be guilty of hype. But, in the warehouse right now, changes to wireless networks, track and trace technologies, Big Data and the devices carried by your people are offering improvements in workflows – major improvements. Given the pressures that warehouses face to do more, more quickly and more accurately, now’s the time to take a look again at how technology can help your people rise to these challenges and achieve double-digit productivity gains.