Digital Innovation Insights with Sello Lehong, Head of Innovation at Barloworld Automotive & Logistics.
In our third episode of our digital innovation series Sello discusses the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) and augmented reality (AR), and the impact of this technology on the supply chain industry.
How augmented reality (ar) is shaping the supply chain industry
Since its prominence in recent years, Augmented Reality (AR) continues to transform supply chains. What was once science-fiction is now a reality, leading to improved efficiency in supply chain processes. Described by the Lexico Dictionary as technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user's view of the real world, thus providing a composite view, AR continues to blur the lines between the digital space and the world as we know it.
With anticipatory logistics dominating the space, supply chain and logistics providers are compelled to utilise technologies that give insight to their customers’ needs before they are even aware of them. Granted, adopting and implementing AR is a pricey exercise, however, the returns are enormous, and supply chain providers cannot simply afford to miss the opportunity of creating value for their customers through reducing costs and minimising errors. Although there are countless benefits of AR, we will focus on how AR enables collaboration, increases efficiency, and enhances safety.
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Fostering remote collaboration
Augmented Reality continues to pave the way for knowledge sharing among professionals in supply chain. For instance, with AR, highly skilled professionals can remotely collaborate with technicians and other employees on site, imparting knowledge through augmented reality devices. Moreover, supply chain providers can ensure consistency across multiple warehouses that they run and oversee on behalf of their clients. This ensures that any standard or best practice implemented in one warehouse can be leveraged in other areas. This collaboration and exchanging of information ensures increased efficiency.
Increased efficiency in the process
With accuracy and streamlined processes at the top of the priority list in any warehouse, the manual labour of flipping through piles of paperwork is distant history. Smart glasses, controlled by voice commands and head movements, enable employees to execute their tasks seamlessly, from identifying what items they need to pick, where to pack them, and so forth in a safe manner.
Enhancing safety through cutting edge inventions
Technology continues to evolve and improve safety in operations. Within a warehouse environment, filled with heavy machinery, pallets and racking, safety becomes imperative not only to ensure efficiency but also for employees’ well-being. In modern times, employees often unintentionally neglect their health, and inventions such as exoskeletons assist in taking the load off warehouse workers, offering lower back support during pick and packing activities. Undoubtedly, improving warehouse safety is key for any supply chain operation as it ensures that productivity levels are constantly maintained and the workforce is safe at all times.
South African supply chains are on the cusp of advanced technology and innovation. Multiple supply chain providers may claim that they are not ready for AR, however, they cannot simply fold arms and avoid adopting this technology. Supply chain managers continuously need to stay ahead of the curve when responding to the ever-evolving needs of customers.
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