Hands-free tech increases warehouse picking efficiency

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Manual, time-consuming warehouse tasks like order picking account for almost 60% of warehouse labor cost, according to industry sources. With the goal of increasing productivity and reducing costs, companies like CJ Logistics are finding that picking can be done more accurately and efficiently using hands-free smart glasses technology.

Exploring a partnership with technology companies, CJ Logistics is employing smart glasses technology for vision and voice picking – vision for directed tasks, instructions, location, product SKU and quantity, and voice for task completion or exception confirmation. Currently utilizing smart glasses to assist with case picking, the company plans to implement the technology for each picking in ecommerce operations.

Wearing smart glasses, employees can keep their eyes on what’s most important – fulfilling product quickly, efficiently and accurately — rather than on paperwork or scanners. Their tasks are in their field of view, not on a piece of paper, and they don’t have to handle cumbersome scanners that could cause them to miss-pick product.  

With hands-free voice picking technology, employees can navigate the system and enter required information such as quantities and weights without pressing keys, eliminating the manual entry that can be burdensome and lead to accidental errors.

CJ Logistics is utilizing the technology at one location to assist operators in case picking with Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMR), configured with a ring scanner to link the picker to the destination equipment. Employees have reported positive feedback about the visual for SKU and lot validation. Use of the technology has resulted in 5-10% improvement in pick efficiency and accuracy. “Delivering comprehensive information to the operator is one of the success factors. Vision glass enables us to quickly modify this as operators require,” said Kevin Walsh, Sr. Manager, TES (Technology, Engineering, Systems & Solutions).“With the variety of uses and implementation scenarios, it will help operators perform more effectively overall.”

In addition to increasing speed and decreasing mistakes in the picking process, this technology can increase the labor pool through faster onboarding and training. According to one technology company, new employees can be proficient in the technology in as little as 30 minutes and fully up and running in under a day. 

Pick technology has the potential to change the way companies like CJ Logistics currently staff and train in their operations. ”Through using simple everyday technology, we can remove labor barriers by streamlining onboarding, as well as expand the labor pool,” Jim Heller, SVP, Operations said. “Especially in the current ‘great resignation’ that many industries are facing, we are able to utilize resources to be able to adapt to ever-changing customer needs.” 

The use of this technology in the warehouse environment can lead to increases in productivity and revenue, and help companies manage their workforce in a challenging labor market. 

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