Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

DHL backs augmented reality after successful pilots

Steve Rogerson
August 15, 2017

Following successful pilots, DHL is making augmented reality glasses standard equipment in its warehouses around the world.
The logistics company has successfully completed its global augmented reality pilots and is expanding its Vision Picking in more warehouses around the globe.
The smart glasses provide visual displays of order picking instructions along with information on where items are located and where they need to be placed on a cart, freeing pickers’ hands of paper instructions and allowing them to work more efficiently and comfortably. The international trials have shown an average improvement of productivity of 15 per cent and higher accuracy rates. The user-friendly and intuitive technology has also halved on-boarding and training times.
“Digitalisation is not just a vision or programme for us, it’s a reality for us and our customers, and is adding value to our operations on the ground,” said Markus Voss, chief information officer at DHL Supply Chain. “Customers have been very happy about the productivity gains and are equally excited about using innovative technology at their warehouses.”
After having completed a pilot programme across the USA, mainland Europe and the UK throughout different industries such as technology, retail and consumer, DHL has now established Vision Picking for the long run. The technology has matured to become standard and replicable for users, allowing faster and easier implementation in their operations, helping them benefit from productivity gains with increased speed of operations and better picking accuracy.
Employees have been enthusiastic about being able to use the technology and are pleased with how light the smart glasses are, and how much more comfortable the process is now with hands-free picking.
“We are very satisfied and happy that the pilot phase went so well and that we can now say augmented reality technology is one of our standard offerings at DHL Supply Chain,” Voss said. “As one of the first logistics companies using the technology, we have truly established a new way of order picking in the industry.”
DHL has been working alongside three partners in the pilot phase. Ubimax provided the augmented reality software xPick, whereas the recently announced Glass Enterprise Edition and Vuzix M100 and M300 glasses were used as hardware. Further proofs of concept running in Asia and Australia with other partners show similar promising benefits. Following the success of its Vision Picking programme, DHL is looking into additional applications for augmented and virtual reality such as trainings, maintenance and dimension calculations.
DHL has opened an integrated warehousing site in Bengaluru, India, to provide customs bonded and domestic warehousing services. It is equipped with a warehousing management system and ISO documented processes. Security includes motion sensors, fire alarm systems, CCTV and access control.