COVER STORY JULY/AUGUST 2019
BITO’s LEO system automatically
follows predetermined routes
managers are looking
to combine human
sta and automation
challenge,” says Edward Hutchison, managing
director of BITO Storage Systems. “For many,
however, the capital expenditure required and
lack of fl exibility is often a barrier to taking this
step. If a system is easy to set up and run inhouse,
this will keep procurement costs low
and allow users to always be in charge of how
it is deployed.”
An internal driverless transport system –
essentially simple robots travelling between
the production line and a warehouse – is a good
example of a solution that does not require
complex infrastructure and software, but does
off er fl exible, future-proof and productive
intralogistics for manufacturers. BITO’s LEO
Locative is one such example, and simply requires
the user to lay down an adhesive coloured line
on the facility fl oor to mark the route for LEO
to follow. Stations where the transporter needs
to stop, and any tasks the system is required to
perform at each location, are also specifi ed using
markers applied directly to the fl oor.
to operate in an optimised, effi cient and accurate
way. And increasingly, they are looking to
automation to help them achieve this. Unskilled
labour alone will not be able to provide what they
want. There will, though, still be a need for people
to work in the warehouse but increasingly they
will not need be the traditional staff on shortterm
solutions who can help optimise the technology,
ensuring eff ective operations to improve the
overall contribution to the business.
future, one thing is certain: the shed is dead;
long live the connected warehouse.
Source: Zebra Technologies
When man meets machine: the rise of wearables
What if you could augment the performance of your existing human workforce? Andreas
Koenig, CEO of ProGlove, whose customers include Audi, Festo and Bosch, explains how
wearable technology is the next step in a connected warehouse environment.
One of the biggest challenges for improving productivity is that
humans get tired. From stamina to muscle power, errors typically
increase as workers run out of steam. For this reason, the science
of ergonomic design has become ever more important to maximise
both performance and worker comfort.
One key opportunity is to minimise extraneous
movement and ensure the majority of physical
movement is directly linked to productive activity.
For example, replacing the traditional ‘point and
shoot’ barcode scanner with a glove with in-built
scan functionality o ers a number of benefi ts.
Obviously, the worker has both hands free at
all times to pick up items and safely negotiate
warehouse locations, often at height. The wearable
devices are always to hand: the worker simply presses
a button in the glove to scan an item, making the entire
process much easier.
The hands-free nature of wearable devices can also
improve worker safety – a key issue since the majority of
health and safety incidents reported in the UK in
2017/18 within the transportation and storage
industry related to musculoskeletal
disorders. In addition to avoiding onehanded
pick-up of items, a wearable
scanner eradicates the risk of scanners
being dropped. In addition, wearables
Today’s manufacturers want their warehouses
contracts, but instead experts in automated
However the technology develops in the
can include sensors and emit a signal to alert other workers to
an individual’s presence, addressing the risks created by forklifts
and other moving infrastructure.
This e cient, augmented workforce will increasingly work
with machines. Automation technology and artifi cial intelligence
will continue to evolve, releasing human workers from
the tedium of many simple processes.
The provision of real-time information via
wearables will be an essential component of
this intelligent, augmented human workforce,
supporting a team of informed individuals taking
on increasingly complex, changing and timesensitive
tasks in tandem with automation.
The implication of this augmented human
workforce for businesses is signifi cant: scanning time
reduced by up to four seconds per scan. Minimising
unnecessary and tiring repetitive actions and improving
accuracy signifi cantly increases the volume of work undertaken
by each worker. Augmenting the workforce will rapidly transform
productivity and e ciency.
This is just the start. As the evolution of wearable devices
continues, workers will increasingly be able to leverage an
ecosystem of wearables that will enhance not only human
collaboration but also human to machine interaction. From gloves
to glasses and cameras, the augmented human workforce will be
not only more productive but safer and, hopefully, happier.