Wearable technology can help to ease pressures on frontline workers

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Written by
Charlie Grieco

Chief Revenue Officer at ProGlove

Wearable technology can help to ease the pressures on frontline workers

The acceleration of ecommerce as the world changed it habits to deal with the challenges of lockdown, has put the spotlight on supply chain and logistics operations like never before.  

A key take-away from the crisis of the past 15 months is the need to better prepare for unforeseen events. Experts say we need to add resilience to our supply chains. Above all, this calls for flexible solutions to address uncertain market conditions, volatile environments, sudden spikes and abrupt declines. But smarter technology alone is not the answer. We need to use this technology to help strengthen the frontline worker. 

So how do you go about empowering the human worker? It all starts with providing the tools they need to get their job done. They need technology that is built around them. In other words, we need human centred design.

The Benefits of Wearable Technology in Today’s Supply Chains

Whether it is e-commerce or any other industry. When you look at the supply chains you will inevitably end up at warehouses and logistics. This kind of work tends to be extremely strenuous. Order picking, inventory checking, packaging and all the other jobs in this context require physical effort and human dexterity. However, this is also the environment in which wearable technology will make a difference. Particularly so, if it follows the principle of human centred design. 

As items travel along the supply chain through the warehouses to the customer, they are managed by the use of barcodes. Every process step is documented with a barcode scan. Yet traditional scanner guns come with a couple of issues that can be eliminated by means of wearable barcode scanners. 

For instance: Glove scanners can reduce common picking errors by up to 33 percent, i.e. if they come with an instant feedback option that confirms good picks and signals bad picks. In addition, they can decrease scanning time by up to 50 percent because workers no longer have to pick them up, put them back down, let alone search for them.

This can amount to a time gain of up to four seconds per scan. And these micro-efficiencies can scale to big savings in the high frequency scan environments that we typically find in warehouses and logistics.

Panasonic and ProGlove Provide Combined Wearable Solution

So, in effect wearable barcode scanners can raise quality, increase process reliability and boost efficiency. And yet all these benefits can be enhanced even further with a combined solution by Panasonic and ProGlove. Both organisations partner to offer a seamless package as a stand-alone scanning solution or as essential elements of Panasonic’s voice picking solutions for the supply chain, warehouse operations, inventory checking and retail.

The ProGlove MARK 2 range, for example, fits seamlessly into Panasonic’s flexible voice picking solution. It combines the use of a bluetooth headset with its rugged TOUGHBOOK N1 handheld device or TOUGHBOOK S1 or A3 tablets in a holster or mounted on a forklift, alongside the ProGlove MARK 2 scanner and a TOUGHBOOK Omnia custom voice application. 

This type of joint solution provides the flexibility organisations currently need. It helps augment the human worker and paves the way to the digital evolution of the shop floor. It is a critical step as it lays the groundwork for connecting the human worker to the IoT and promotes human machine collaboration at the same time. In that sense, it supplies and leverages technology that serves human needs. This will be critical as we advance further into the era of artificial intelligence and automation. And while some fear that may come hand-in-hand with potential job losses, chances are – as an MIT Study suggests – we will see more job openings in the future than we will have workers to fill them. And if that turns out to be true, we have yet another reason to provide workers with the best possible technology tools.

View the full ProGlove range, available from Panasonic TOUGHBOOK.

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