Technology & Innovation

Is augmented reality warehouse picking the future for efficient warehouses?

Written by
Jonathan Porter
Jan 10, 2022
3:50 pm
minute read

How do you ensure your warehouse runs as smoothly as possible? Perhaps it’s by employing a well-trained team or having a warehouse management plan in place? Something that should be high on your list of considerations is augmented reality warehouse picking. 

Keeping organized and efficient is your way to success, so here’s how to accomplish it.

What is Augmented Reality Warehouse Picking? 

Utilizing an augmented reality system means applying technology as an overlay to your real-life warehouse. From picking to inventory, using an AR can help streamline workflows and make your space more efficient. They can be set up to work over smartphones, smart glasses, or other mobile wearable devices, pieces of technology that are popular and lightweight for employees to carry around.

Your first step to identifying how an AR system could help you is understanding what areas you wish to improve. The picking process is a lofty one that contains many moving parts. Is it your item location you want to enhance because you have a warehouse with large square footage? Perhaps your retrieval system could be more efficient? Or your inventory tracking system/ the way your retrieval communicates with inventory tracking? Augmented reality warehouse picking targets all these areas, ensuring efficiency through technology. 

AR Addressing your Particular Needs

Your business is unique; therefore, your warehouse technology needs to be unique too. AR picking ensures your individual needs in navigation, location & inventory tracking are seamlessly integrated. 

Navigation of your Space

Using augmented reality warehouse picking for navigation can be very beneficial for most medium to large warehouses. Small warehouses may also benefit from navigational services but mainly just for new employees still in training. In this way, the first positive is that utilizing AR creates a digital map of your warehouse space which could be accessed via phone, smart glasses, or other mobile warehouse devices. Employees can visually see a representation of where products are located before going out and wandering the warehouse, ensuring time is used efficiently and safely. 

If employees need to pick a long list of items, the AR will create an optimized route to those items. This ensures no employee is working backward or wasting time in transit. AR also makes navigation accessible to employees, adding voice direction and visual components as aids.

Item Location

So your employee used AR to route themselves to the area in which the item is located. Now what? For large warehouses with shelving, skids, or more, simply finding the item can cost precious seconds that add up over time. Augmented reality warehouse picking makes this simple. Augmented reality systems can overlay where an item is for the employee on their smartphone, smart glasses, or other mobile device, down to the exact shelf on the rack. 

Inventory Tracking and Barcode Scanning

Now that the employee has been efficiently routed to the item and found it, it’s time for retrieval. It’s no secret that your WMS relies heavily on inventory tracking for its efficiency. With augmented reality warehouse picking, errors in inventory and tracking are a thing of the past. The moment an employee finds an item, a barcode can be scanned, either by a smart device or automatically by smart glasses and other wearables. This sends the information to your WMS ensuring your data is tracked throughout with no errors. Consequently, this works the opposite way as well! If workers need to restock or “check an item in” as new stock is refilled, AR gives this capability as well.
AR is also helpful because when a barcode is scanned, it can pull up further information on an employee’s phone or smart glasses. Workers can see stock, item information, and more virtually and hands-free. This brings picking issues down to a minimum and ensures smooth communication between data systems and employees.

Integrating AR in your Warehouse is Easy

The first step to integrating augmented reality warehouse picking is choosing your software and configuring it. As stated previously, each business is unique, and your software should recognize that. All systems will need to learn your warehouse space, its capacity and where you have designed pathways, etc. The team implementing your software places the map of your warehouse at the core of the app and builds around it your intricate details—where you want specific items for efficiency and so on. 

After setting up the AR space, businesses will need to integrate it with their current WMS. Ensuring all data tracking software works together seamlessly will reinforce the strength of your picking system. Without this integration, companies lose out on the inventory tracking capabilities of AR, so it is essential that they are linked. 

Once both of these steps are done, very little is needed in upkeep. Any updates to software should be easy and have little impact on operations. 

AR the Warehouse Way of the Future

Many companies have tried augmented reality warehouse picking and have done so successfully. It increases flexibility, efficiency, and accuracy within your supply chain and warehouse—it could be the way of the future! 

Are you curious about employing AR in your warehouse? Do you want more tips on how to ensure your changes are thorough and intentional? PorterLogic assists in optimizing your supply chain systems, so you don’t have to stress. Booking a call or checking out our free resources can put you on the path to an effective and functional supply chain management system. 

Enjoyed this article? Here are three more to help you make your warehouse more efficient:

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