Blurring the lines between the digital and physical worlds, augmented reality (AR) will provide new perspectives in logistics planning, process execution, and transportation. By adding virtual layers of contextual information onto a heads up display or other digital device, AR empowers workers by providing the right information at the right time and in the right place.
Key Developments & Implications
AR enables its users to intelligently understand their surroundings by integrating contextual information into their field of view through smart glasses. “Vision picking” (order picking using smart glasses in warehouse operations) will be a key application area for AR as first deployments have already demonstrated significant potential. With the latest developments in contextual computing and enterprise AR devices, AR is becoming an attractive tool to increase process efficiency and quality in complex logistics activities. Breakthroughs in the robustness and image recognition capability of AR hardware will enable a wider adoption of this technology in logistics.
AR-powered warehouse operations utilize smart glasses for the hands-free operation of various tasks within a warehouse such as product picking, packing, sorting, and even assembling. Already today, smart glasses have the ability to display task information, read barcodes, and support indoor navigation, and can be integrated into warehouse management systems for real-time operations. User-friendly interfaces can also incorporate elements of gamification (e.g., virtual scores for successful picks) to speed up processes and increase job satisfaction.
Safer and smarter driving can be achieved for vehicle operators by utilizing AR as the next generation of navigation and driver-assistance systems. Windshields can be used as heads-up displays to project virtual layers of navigation information, as if this data is overlaid on the real environment. AR can also highlight road hazards to the driver.
Intelligent last-mile operations can use smart glasses for the entire delivery process. Workers equipped with smart glasses can conduct completeness checks of each shipment using object-recognition technology. AR can also be utilized to virtually highlight inside a vehicle to display the optimal internal loading sequence of each shipment (taking account of route, weight, fragility, etc.). On delivery, AR can help in last-meter navigation to correctly locate entrances.
Questions answered in this report:
- What is Augmented Reality all about?
- How far has this technology developed; are there some examples of best practice?
- What are the implications for Augmented Reality in the logistics industry?
Talk to an Expert
Head of Innovation
Americas and Trend Research, DHL
Gina Chung leads the research and innovation activities of DHL and is in charge of the DHL Americas Innovation Center: a state-of-the-art platform to engage startups and industries on the future of logistics. Since 2012, she has shaped DHL’s global innovation agenda by driving a portfolio of projects focused on the rapid testing and adoption of technologies such as collaborative robotics and artificial intelligence across DHL’s operations. Prior to her current role, she also led the development of DHL’s trend research series including co-authoring publications such as IoT in Logistics together with Cisco and the DHL Logistics Trend Radar. Gina is based in Chicago and holds two degrees from the University of Auckland.