Hands free for efficient logistics processes

Wearable instead of handheld scanners.

Hands free!

The “good old” handheld scanners with RF dialogs represent a long-standing success story among logisticians. No wonder, these extremely practical devices have measurably facilitated many work steps and thus effort in the warehouse, at the loading dock and also within a wide variety of sales areas.

Even today, handheld scanners are still widely used – and rightly so. Often, for example, “classic” SAP EWM RF dialogs run on it. There is no doubt, then, that this technology-based way of working has proven its worth.
But: we at neoimpulse are of the opinion that good things must always be compared with – potentially – better things. And with regard to handheld scanners, it should be noted that they are often simply in the way during work. In addition, dialog guidance is not very intuitive and errors are often not identified or are identified too late. Not “across the board”, but wherever such handheld weaknesses are perceived as a nuisance in everyday logistics, so-called wearable barcode scanners are now available.
The idea behind these “wearables” is simple and therefore good: A scanner, sometimes even with a touch display, on the wrist replaces the handheld and you have both hands free – for example to pick, pack or transport goods. The scan is triggered with the thumb.

However, the solutions available on the market offer even more advantages:

  • User guidance on the display to optimize process steps
  • Touch display with many design options to make ad hoc decisions
  • Visual, haptic and/or acoustic feedback to reduce errors
  • App library for easier integration

The use of these wearables becomes particularly interesting when connected to a WMS, such as SAP EWM. As part of a project, we were able to see for ourselves the added value of these wearables:

There, the wearables were used in combination with devices such as tablets. Thus, the production supply was carried out by means of tugger trains.

A dialog on the tablet in the route train reliably guides the employee to the stopping points and can provide comprehensive information about the tour. The wearable barcode scanner then takes care of loading and unloading at the individual stopping points: “Get box 4711 from bin 1.” – “Bring box 4711 to location 01-03-06.” – it guides the employee efficiently through the loading process. And is completely controlled by SAP EWM.

The basic connection was quickly made. Install the app, connect the scanner to the device via Bluetooth and you can use the wearable barcode scanner similar to a gun scanner.

Integration into SAP dialogs is possible, whether RF or UI5, and takes a few days per dialog. The bidirectional connection is done by a provided app library via JavaScript. However, it is important to note that the device and wearable must only be a few meters apart to ensure a stable connection. Disconnections should definitely be conceptualized – for successful integration.

Summa summarum: Situation and feasibility analyses make absolute sense with a view to potential optimizations of daily workflows. Especially in times of limited availability of skilled workers, it is important to avoid superfluous “handholding”. For process efficiency and for employees.