Augmented reality, virtual reality, mixed reality... What is the reality?
In today’s age of e-commerce, the supply chain is probably one of the biggest challenges. For the first time, Internet shopping exceeded in-store shopping during this Thanksgiving season in the US. E-commerce in general and Amazon in particular have changed the way we shop. The inflection point has already occurred as far as online shopping is concerned. So what’s the next frontier to capture? Second-day delivery is passé. I want to touch and feel the product on the same day that I buy. Is same day delivery possible?
Have you ever imagined the logistical nightmare that moving these huge inventories cause and the amount of manual labor that’s required to accomplish this? Giants like DHL and FedEx have already started pilot projects to assess the use of AR across the supply chain ranging from warehouse planning to transportation optimization and last-mile delivery.
Imagine huge warehouses measuring hundreds of thousands of square feet and you can only guess at the time you can save if you can direct the worker to the package directly instead of looking around all over the place. It has been demonstrated that visual picking using smart glasses can improve efficiency by as much as 25 percent over regular hand picking. In regular hand picking, workers search and pick packages in the warehouse using a paper list and a handheld scanner. But in vision picking, they wear smart glasses that provide them with visual instructions via AR on what to pick and where to place the goods.
Now look at the next stage, the RFID tag is prevalent and costs no more than a few cents. Having an RFID tag on each package accompanied by a RFID reader and combined with visual instruction on glasses provides a winning solution.
Advanced remote technical support is another area that has immense potential with a return on investment that can be realized in matter of days and not months or years. Specialized industries such as oil and gas and aviation face an aging workforce. It is estimated that the aviation industry is going to lose a large number of its experts due to retirement. These experts cannot travel to remote locations to troubleshoot and fix problems. Here is where the glasses can come in handy. If there is a breakdown of equipment or a technical glitch, a specialist in a remote location can assess the situation via AR devices worn by workers present at the site and help them resolve the issue using AR features such as voice instructions and images. This equips regular employees in the field to undertake assembly and repair tasks that would otherwise require specific training effort and time.
These are just a few examples. The possibilities offered by visual reality are countless and we are just seeing the tip of the iceberg!
Srinivas Panapakam manages worldwide sales and business development operations for the Product Engineering Services (PES) vertical at Mistral. With over 20 years of experience in solution selling, software & product marketing, product engineering services consulting and business development operations, Srinivas plays a key role in customer acquisition, retention and customer relationship management. Having been with Mistral since its inception in 1997, Srini has greatly contributed to the growth of the company and has helped mold Mistral into a leading global technology company. His experience in technology sales and marketing has helped to significantly optimize Mistral’s technology expertise.