Wearable Technology vs. Multi-Device Solutions: What to Choose for Your Industrial Applications
Wearable technology is revolutionizing industrial applications and quickly becoming the go-to solution for modern distribution centers to empower the connected worker. But how do you know when to choose wearable technology over your tried-and-true scanner and mobile computer alternative?
Wearable computers allow users to work hands-free while still accessing the data they need to do their jobs. This can accelerate picking, packing, and shipping operations because data collection and communication can be more seamlessly integrated into the workflow.
In the warehouse, there are two types of common wearable systems: wearable barcode scanners (worn on the hand or wrist) that enable faster scanning, or voice-based systems that use a headset and belt-worn computer to guide picking and packing activities.
When combined, these voice-based solutions and wearable barcode scanners create a hands-free environment that provides significant benefits when it comes to ergonomics, accuracy, productivity, and efficiency.
Here are four things to consider when deciding whether or not to deploy wearable technology for industrial applications:
1. Wearables are a fit for high-volume applications.
Two of the key benefits of wearable scanners are ergonomics and efficiency. In a high-volume operation where workers frequently need the use of both hands, wearables can improve productivity. They allow employees to collect data and scan items without interrupting their workflow to pause while they pick up the handheld computers.
Those applications include:
- Postal/Parcel: Workers can more efficiently manage a high volume of packages for tracking, while using both hands for sortation.
- Warehouse/eCommerce: Picking and packing operations can be improved, particularly in facilities that require frequent handling of goods and a high number of transactions.
- Manufacturing: Users on assembly lines can scan components while assembling finished goods.
- Airline: Baggage handlers can scan and handle luggage simultaneously.
- Retail: In-store picking and stocking operations can be handled more efficiently, which is of particular benefit for omnichannel operations with high inventory velocity.
2. Increase speed without compromising accuracy.
According to a Honeywell survey, companies lose more than $400,000 on average every year in picking errors. Wearable technology improves speed without compromising accuracy; in fact, accuracy can actually be improved using a wearable scanner because manual data entry is reduced.
Devices such as Honeywell’s new 8680i Smart Wearable have improved efficiency by 5 seconds per transaction in some cases. Handling a traditional mobile scanner can waste 5 to 8 seconds. That can quickly add up—in a high-volume operation where an employee completes 450 transactions per day, that’s 45 minutes of handling time per shift!
According to a three-year study conducted by analyst firm Tractica, commercial deployment of wearable solutions in logistics and warehousing facilities measured efficiency gains of up to 25% and near 100% picking accuracy.
3. Improve working conditions with ergonomic design.
Most warehouse employees do repetitive work that can lead to stress injuries or fatigue. Wearable scanners are more compact and lightweight and can allow workers to move more naturally without juggling devices.
Employees can keep their eyes on their work and can easily use the wearable devices for 8 hours without any additional strain or discomfort. That can reduce healthcare and workman’s compensation costs for companies because there are fewer claims for repetitive stress injuries.
4. Reduce acquisition and support costs.
Some wearable solutions now support streamlined workflows as standalone devices—which means there are fewer hardware components to purchase and support. This provides a lower total cost of ownership for the solution over the lifecycle of the hardware.
Traditional scanner and mobile computer alternatives may also be more expensive over the long run because they are more likely to be dropped or damaged, and can reduce productivity and ergonomic safety.
Wearable technology can help improve accuracy, increase productivity, and reduce expenses for your industrial applications. With decades of experience in barcode, RFID, and mobility solutions deployment, contact Miles Data to learn how wearable technology can benefit your operation.