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As automation augments the role workers play, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) can create new models and training for supply chain employees. Many studies show AR and VR create higher efficiencies and do a better job of monitoring workers. Starting in 2015, DHL began implementing a “vision picking” program at Ricoh, and expanded it worldwide in 2019 after worker productivity increased by 15%. Vision picking employs smart glasses to enable hands-free product scanning, reducing errors in the picking process. The smart glasses market as a whole is set to grow $65.75 million during 2023-2027, according to ReportLinker. Smart glasses and AR also make the workplace safer, by monitoring stacked products and limiting falls, and guiding pickers to more efficient paths. Ox uses glasses and machine learning to optimize pick routes. Focusing on human-based automation through AR and VR, the US startup’s glasses allow for communication between co-workers and guides the workforce to maximize units picked per hour. Honeywell’s Immersive Field Simulator combines VR and mixed reality (MR) for training, and can create multiple scenarios without pulling employees off shifts. Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions used AR to train technicians on repairs, allowing them to learn at any time and any place. JetBlue used an immersive learning platform through Strivr to teach its Airbus technicians in “real world” conditions. The food industry also utilizes AR, with a digital twin model, through a technology that reports on storage conditions, and sets guidelines for the shelf lives of fruits and vegetables. The opportunities for immersive learning at home allows for labor development on a larger, even global, scale, from pilots, to warehouse workers, and technicians. This can reduce onboarding time during peak e-commerce seasons, such as the holidays. As worker safety issues arise in warehouses, AR technology adds a layer of safety that could aid with recruiting. But AR/VR can also track employee activities, raising privacy issues that companies will need to address. AR combined with digital twin models can lead to guidelines for safer storage, and can predict which products are the most valuable depending on the customer’s needs. The AR/VR tech-enabled supply chain gives companies a competitive advantage since they can offer the highest quality goods and better places to work.

Monitoring and field simulation with immersive AR/VR

KEY TRENDS

Extended Reality