By Guilherme Osorio
October 29, 2023
Efficiency’s the goal,
Tech in warehouses takes its toll,
Smaller firms now whole.
As we approach 2024, technology can be found all around us. As advancements come in left, right, and center, businesses implement these new-found sources of productivity and life improvements, in many cases, before the public could even hear about it. Warehousing, a significant aspect of many businesses, is no exception. With the number of challenges that warehousing proposes, such as the intensity of loads, variety of tasks, and substantial labor required, it is no wonder that companies would look for many ways to make things easier and more efficient to increase profits and improve working conditions.
As of late, a technology that has been making the rounds and becoming increasingly popular amongst companies with many warehousing endeavors has been the implementation of augmented reality and wearable devices. A common problem in warehouses is the implementation of automation, which can be vastly expensive and only viable for companies with significant funds and high enough volume to justify using costly and fully automated machinery. Companies that may not have the book and cash flow to get fully automated machinery are trying to mitigate this problem through augmented reality and wearable devices. A company that has been focusing on this new aspect of warehousing technologies is a company named Ox.
So, you might wonder, “What are some of these devices that Ox has been working on, and how do they mitigate the need for fully automated machinery that smaller companies can implement?” The first device we will look at is their AI-assisted headband. This headband displays to the worker the tasks they have to do, each step, and where items are located, and they keep track of what the worker is doing and update Ox’s Warehousing Management System in real-time, offering insights into operations live. This headband alone serves to improve worker efficiency by around 20%. However, this isn’t the only device that Ox offers that implements the use of AI-assisted technology to enhance work efficiency in the warehouse. Their line-up of products also consists of smartwatches, mobile-wearable displays, and mounted tablets, all of which make the workers’ lives much more manageable, improving how effective the workers are and allowing training to take much less time. Ox also offers other types of wearable devices that allow warehouse staff to be more productive, such as their ring scanners. The advantage of a device such as a ring scanner compared to regular scanners is that they are smaller in size, meaning that they will be lighter and less obtrusive for the workers, allowing their hands to be used more efficiently. All these devices that Ox offers allow them to implement AI technologies to improve the outcomes of implementing these devices. With machine learning, Ox software systems can improve the routes that workers take and where it would be most optimal to have items, dramatically decreasing worker error in the process.
Now, Ox isn’t the only company that offers new technologies that improve worker efficiency for smaller businesses in warehousing. A technology that has been getting a lot of attention lately has been CoBots, also known as cooperative robots. Unlike traditional robots, this technology is made to cooperate with humans rather than substitute them entirely. A significant benefit of CoBots, compared to the implementation of conventional, fully automated robots, is its price, allowing much smaller businesses to implement this new technology. A CoBot manufacturer that has been getting some traction lately is Locus Robotics. They offer a variety of CoBots: the Locus Origin, which is built to be fast and agile with a load capacity of 80lbs; the Locus Vector, which has a load capacity of 600lbs; and the Locus Max, which has a load capacity of 3000lbs. Implementing these robots, however, comes with many more benefits than only increasing the ease of moving products around the warehouse. With its robots, “the industry’s only fully integrated system that seamlessly orchestrates and manages all of your product movement needs,” the LocusOne. These robots can greatly increase warehouses’ efficiency and allow for much smaller labor teams, significantly decreasing warehousing costs yet increasing the efficiency and output potential and minimizing errors in the process.
Overall, it can be said that warehousing technology is a great facilitator for smaller companies that want to minimize errors and greatly increase efficiency. Traditionally, it was thought that access to these technologies would be limited to companies that have huge volumes and significant amounts of capital to invest in their warehouses; however, there are companies such as Ox and Locus Robotics that allow smaller businesses to compete with the efficiency of larger enterprises when it comes to warehousing functions, organization, and even efficiency.
Interpretation of Haiku:
The Haiku is about what the article/blog is talking about. The main goal for many companies regarding their warehousing situation is to increase efficiency and minimize waste and error. In many ways, companies expect to increase their efficiency by implementing technology, which traditionally, is seen as very expensive, which is why it takes its toll. However, after exploring solutions that smaller companies can implement to increase their efficiency and performance outputs, without sacrificing sufficient capital to put the company at risk, we can now say that the smaller companies are finally whole.