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Reality check – Automotive Logistics

From enhanced design and manufacturing processes to novel employees coaching and apprenticeship programmes, using augmented actuality (AR) and digital actuality (VR) in industrial purposes is growing.

Within the automotive logistics sector, a variety of vehicle-makers and logistics service providers have been prompted to research the potential of know-how resembling glasses or goggles that can overlay a heads-up display onto a traditional view of the world. Apart from progressive pilot tasks, some are even shifting in the direction of the establishment of AR techniques in full operation.

Many early examples have targeted on warehouse administration and product choosing, however, as the know-how improves and the range of merchandise on the market increases, there’s some proof that using this know-how might go a lot further.

As Irma Gilbert, enterprise improvement manager at Liverpool-based know-how start-up Join four.0 explains, AR know-how could be put to numerous makes use of, from upkeep and training to prototyping and product or half visualisation, as well as enhancing productiveness and safety.

“For automotive, the luxury segment is also using AR to enhance production, reduce cost of design and provide a better customer experience,” she says.

In terms of using AR in logistics purposes, one of the front-runners is BMW, which is at present using sensible glasses in a pilot challenge at its Munich plant. As Nela Murauer, head of the Sensible Glasses Undertaking, explains, the company is trialling glasses like those from ODG, Vuzix and Google, which are “technically used like a monitor worn on the nose” to display choosing info within the employee’s visual field, whereas interplay with the warehouse administration system is achieved by way of barcode scans.

A two-month research suggests a 22% time-saving and a 33% reduction in errors over a typical eight-hour shift when using the know-how, and staff have proved to be glad with the consumer interface, says Murauer – though there have been some stories of hardware-related discomfort to the nostril and temples, she admits.

Jan Cirullies, head of logistics on the Fraunhofer Institute for Software program and Methods Engineering (ISST) in Germany, says one of many important purposes for AR in warehouses is to help operational processes, either as a everlasting device or a short lived assist. One example of a everlasting software is pick-by-vision know-how, during which AR units are used to spotlight packing containers or shelf places to select from, or to optimise packing instructions.

When it comes to momentary purposes, in the meantime, “AR can also train new staff, introduce new processes or provide guidance on rarely performed tasks – for example, certain maintenance procedures carried out by an operator,” says Cirullies.

Among those deploying the know-how is VW Group, which is at present operating numerous AR-related initiatives across several group corporations. Skoda, for example, has launched an revolutionary video mapping scheme at its Mladá Boleslav facility in the Czech Republic in an effort to assist employees with materials choosing by providing prolonged info and highlighting any process errors. Elsewhere, VW is using AR goggles to current digitalised training information about a spread of procedures that apprentices can shortly access as they are working – one thing the company says ought to help to foster self-teaching expertise and enable trainees to adapt their studying behaviour to circumstances at the plant.

One other OEM that has begun introducing AR know-how is Ford, which is committed to ramping up using a variety of latest technologies together with 3D printing, AR, VR and robotics at its new $45m Advanced Manufacturing Middle in Redford, Michigan.

Virtual coaching
As for VR (which differs from AR in that it includes full, quite than partial immersion within the digital world), German logistics service supplier DB Schenker is presently working intently with Fraunhofer IML on a variety of automotive business experiments, the primary of which is an employee coaching programme devised in the collaborative Enterprise Lab for Logistics and Digitalisation that is designed to enhance packaging and order choosing processes.

In line with DB Schenker, the programme is predicated on a complete of six workouts – every of which instructs learners concerning the numerous steps involved by encouraging ‘playful’ studying. Following a profitable introduction at the DB Schenker website in Leipzig, the corporate plans to increase its use to other contract logistics websites.

Frank Lampe, SVP of selling at UBiMAX, points out that AR, together with computing units like sensible glasses, smartphones, tablets and wrist-mounted computer systems, is usually used for intralogistics tasks like managing incoming elements, order choosing and sorting-sequencing.

Especially for mixed just-in-time and just-in-sequence situations, he says: “AR solutions can replace, or better said, digitise Kanban systems, and help kitting. We also have customers who pre-assemble parts, like interior door handles, using AR to deliver them with zero errors to the production line.”

Vision choosing
Elsewhere, Simon Woodward, head of accelerated innovation and digitalisation at DHL Supply Chain UK and Ireland, says purposes for AR, in addition to VR, inside the logistics sector are “widespread” and the corporate has already included them into its enterprise operations in numerous methods.

“From planning and training to order picking and packing, we are using AR and VR to drive the next wave of supply chain innovation, making operations simpler and more efficient,” he feedback.

Simon Woodward, head of accelerated innovation and digitalisation, DHL Provide Chain UK and Ireland

One fascinating instance has been the introduction of sensible glasses to offer visible displays of order choosing directions, along with info on the place gadgets are situated and where they must be placed on the choosing cart. In line with Woodward, this permits utterly hands-free order choosing, with each step carried out via the glasses, relatively than a mixture of handheld scanner and traditional choosing record, making the expertise more user-friendly and efficient.

“In addition, we’ve also incorporated VR into our training strategy. We’ve created computer-simulated 3D immersive training environments, which allow users to take part in a number of scenarios without the need for traditional classroom training,” he says.

“This has been hugely beneficial because, as well as providing more realistic scenarios in a safe environment, our employees have been able to access the training quickly and on multiple occasions, if needed.”

Advantages and challenges
With regards to assessing the primary advantages of using AR in logistics purposes, Cirullies suggests that logistics service providers can anticipate to realize a 30% enchancment in complete course of costs, because of good points like shorter lead occasions and lower error charges.

He also believes that AR offers corporations throughout the automotive logistics sector with probably lifelong technological help. Nevertheless, regardless of the undoubted upsides, Cirullies admits that the know-how for what he describes as ‘full’ AR – or even ‘assisted reality’ units featuring monocular and/or fastened positions for info shown in glasses – is “still lacking industry-ready maturity”.

“Hence, scenarios with temporary application are interesting. Even if the device is not suitable for a whole shift – perhaps because of weight-related ergonomic reasons or battery life – selected actions might be supported,” he says.

Based mostly on his experience at UBiMAX, Lampe means that AR can lead to 15-35% quicker processes depending on present effectivity levels, as well as near-zero errors in choosing. He also factors to excessive employee satisfaction because of more ergonomic work processes by way of hands-free work and the removing of the need to walk to a hard and fast pc terminal, in addition to an end to looking paper lists and a discount of unnecessary duties. In his view, AR may also facilitate extra versatile deployment of employees “due to better worker guidance and intuitive mobile visual information provision”.

“Even new or temporary staff can fulfil tasks at top quality as the AR solution shows what to do and how to do it. Via remote support calls through the smart glasses, workers can also contact their manager and get help, guidance or approvals,” he adds.

Woodward goes so far as to say that each AR and VR have the potential to rework the logistics surroundings, because of their capacity to improve effectivity.

“We know that vision picking has improved productivity, reduced errors and positively supported our warehouse operatives in their daily work, with an average uplift of 15% in the number of picks per hour, compared to a conventional approach,” he says.

“We don’t see any limitations in terms of the technology itself, but one of the most common barriers to the adoption of technologies like AR is the initial investment. However, as with any technology, the price will start to fall as demand increases and we can expect these types of application to become commonplace,” he adds.

For Murauer, the primary advantage of AR lies in the “parallelisation of order reading, gripping and scanning, and the associated time savings”, with limitations together with the “contradiction of light glasses that can be worn for eight hours and the possibility of complete augmentation, for example, with the Microsoft Hololens, by sensors and depth cameras”.

“Also the battery life does not correspond to a full shift. Some glasses become hot during use. Here, the market must provide new models to solve these problems. The integration of requirements from industry, [like] shatterproof glass, a solution for hygiene issues when used together [and] a solution for spectacle wearers must also be ensured,” she says.

Important in future
Wanting ahead, Gilbert suggests using AR in logistics will broaden over the subsequent five to ten years and, as we better perceive find out how to combine new and legacy methods, that options to develop new purposes for repair, maintenance and product improvement will come to the fore.

Murauer agrees, predicting that whereas BMW is presently dealing mainly with the flexible connection of different wearable units by way of a standard interface, AR in logistics will develop into an enormous matter within the coming years, because the hardware market provides improved fashions.

“Potential use cases range from order picking, special training applications and maintenance use cases for transport systems to visualisation and optimisation of the material flow, for example overlay of target and actual status,” she feedback.

Cirullies, too, envisages various key developments in using AR know-how for automotive logistics operations over the subsequent few years. One, he suggests, shall be using the know-how in combination with VR as a closed-loop answer to plan and execute processes as well as design workstations.

“In early stages, places and process can be designed virtually. This model is the first stage of a ‘digital twin’ of a logistics system,” he comments. “This digital twin can then be continuously used to train staff and as a basis for augmented information during operations. Therefore, I think that AR will become one essential interface between humans and the digital twin – that is, at the cyber level.”

Finally, says Woodward, digitalisation could have a serious impression on revenue progress in the supply chain, and AR could have an important position to play on this.

“As the technology becomes more sophisticated, paradigms within logistics will shift – resulting in operations becoming predictive, as opposed to forecasted; processes and transport becoming automated, not manual; and services becoming personalised, rather than standardised, making for a far superior customer experience,” he concludes.

Q&A Jose Manuel Galdón,
Seat innovation and Straightforward Sensible Logistics supervisor

What are the primary purposes of AR in automotive logistics? What know-how is being used and in what approach?

Augmented actuality is an ‘edge’ know-how that principally provides visible info to the consumer about what he’s seeing. Commonest purposes embrace coaching for repetitive actions, distant help for technical interventions or computer-guided quality checks.

When it comes to logistics, the primary purposes might be divided into 4 areas:


Quality control, to verify choosing or supply processes

• Online inventory and stock management

• Steerage in difficult processes

• Help in documentation processes.

Is Seat presently using AR know-how for automotive logistics purposes, either in full operation or pilot tasks?

Seat has made several exams to validate this know-how to be able to assure high quality during choosing processes. We proceed to conduct exams with totally different wearables like sensible watches or cell phones.

What are the primary benefits of utilizing AR in logistics purposes? What are the primary challenges and limitations?

The primary advantages of utilizing AR in logistics are to provide as a lot info as potential concerning the product to the worker. Info like stock coverage, FIFO [first-in, first-out] knowledge and quality confirmation is a very powerful device to attach the employee with the manufacturing unit.

At present, the primary challenges are the ergonomics of wearable units and on-line and correct knowledge management. Furthermore, this know-how should discover its place between other pick-by methods that may give the same info to the worker.

What are the newest developments in AR for logistics? Do you assume its use in this space will broaden within the coming years?

Processing and connectivity velocity has been a key factor in the improvement of this know-how. Also consumer expertise and wearables are being developed actually quick.

Reaching a very ergonomic course of will be the key factor for this know-how to significantly increase.

As said, the potential for connecting the employee with all the info is a very highly effective software. This know-how will mean staff will not be simply obeying orders however have all the knowledge of their palms to make one of the best determination at every second.

Relating to documentation administration, it may also be a middle state within the street to the complete digitalisation of product documentation.