Deutsche Post DHL applies AR to picking and hubs

DHL Supply Chain is using Augmented Reality (AR) smart glasses for picking in its warehouses worldwide, and this has been so successful that DHL Express is slowly rolling the system out.

AR in warehouses helps drive efficiency, and this has been noted in the wider Deutsche Post DHL Group with plans to move smart glasses technology into other areas of its logistics and parcels business. There are plans to use AR in its parcels hubs for example.

DHL Supply Chain has been testing smart glasses since 2015 but it has now become a standard piece of kit in its DHL warehouses. The system it uses is ‘vision picking’, a process that will soon be used by DHL Express, which has started using it at its freight hubs in Brussels, and LA airport. DHL Express plans to use the AR system at its airport hubs in New York, Cincinnati and Chicago.

“With the second generation of Glass Enterprise Edition, we can now provide our customers and employees with even more powerful, technically optimized smart glasses. The possibility of object recognition is also particularly promising for us in industrial applications. With the corresponding software, it is no longer just possible to read out barcodes, locate products and display the corresponding storage compartment; in future, also complex objects can be identified with the smart glasses. We expect this to lead to further productivity increases from which our employees and our customers will benefit equally,” explains Markus Voss, COO and CIO of DHL Supply Chain.

The newest generation of AR smart glasses include include longer battery life, a processor that is twice as fast, and shorter charging times. According to the manufacturer, the devices are also much more robust. Improvements take the industrial use in intralogistics into account. 

“These glasses and other wearables such as ring scanners and Smart Watches are already being used commercially in many of our warehouses. While these applications are only one part of a company-wide digitalization strategy at DHL Supply Chain, that includes the use of robots, drones, autonomous vehicles and many other technologies, I am particularly pleased with the positive feedback from the colleagues who work with these wearables on a daily basis. The operation is so intuitive, their hands are free to “pick” and the visual support helps to locate the products really fast and sort them into the intended trolley boxes. Our colleagues are perfectly equipped to carry out picking quickly,” says Markus Voss, COO and CIO of DHL Supply Chain.

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