- Amazon has received patent approval for a wristband system able to gauge the accuracy of warehouse workers' item and picking location, Geek Wire reported Tuesday.
- The wristband’s sensors determine the correct placement of a worker’s hand in relation to the item currently being chosen, while software confirms its accuracy versus the location of the inventory item being processed. Haptic feedback could alert the worker to her success.
- Whether the wristband will actually be developed remains uncertain, though it could certainly find use at Amazon's many warehouses.
Warehouse technology is advancing in a variety of directions yet with a common goal: improved efficiency and demand planning. While many feared technology and automation would eliminate jobs, it seems they're aiding and working alongside employees.
Drones are offering improved inventory accuracy rates, greater operational efficiency and employee safety. At least half of all manufacturers intend to adopt wearable technologies by 2022 in the form of wrist gear, eyewear and around-the-neck appliances. From these trends, it's clear that the warehouse market is eager for available options.
Amazon-style turnaround is what's driving the market now, making increased efficiency a necessity for any retailer trying to keep up.
"At the highest level of efficiency, overall responsiveness is driven by speed and accuracy," Bernie Donachie, managing director of Protiviti, told Supply Chain Dive. "Tracking allows for more responsiveness: it allows a manager to say, 'Yes, I have that item — it will be on the truck this afternoon.'"
Technology such as wrist tracking devices also affect the end to end supply chain by improving demand planning, crucial to market responsiveness.
"Technology reveals exactly what has been sold and is therefore considered desirable in that market, so a warehouse can stock up on precisely what's most likely to sell again. This too helps with responsiveness," Donachie said.
As the Amazon effect has forced companies to adapt to shorter lead times and fast turnarounds to keep up with consumers' changing tastes, technology can help companies keep up and compete. The entire business process is accelerated, and wrist-wearing technology is a product of that.