Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Augmented reality- WEAR it to WARE it !

So, what does the title mean? Read on to understand:
As kids, most of us wanted to be pilots flying those supersonic planes and air force jets in high speed and look through the fantastic view through the cockpit. But had we ever really seen the importance of the real time communication between the command center and the pilot? Had we thought of what would happen if we did not get the instantaneous information about a malignant object that could strike us in seconds? Not really! We often ignore the importance of being connected! This aspect has been improved upon using latest technology in recent times with the help of augmented reality. This cutting edge technology has been emerging fast and has found its application in various segments of business and consumers. Google glass has been a pioneer product in this area so far and lot of new companies are coming up with wearables.

What on earth is google glass? And where can I see it?
Google/Smart glass is a groundbreaking device that uses this technology which has been proven very valuable in various important domains including healthcare. Next time you walk into a hospital, you can see a nurse wearing smart glasses to check the route plan which is directly displayed and setting off her medication tray. Then she goes into the patient’s room and scans the barcode on his wristband using her glasses and receives information about what medication that particular patient is supposed to take at that moment. She can clarify any questions regarding the medication, dressing or the patient’s condition with a physician immediately through her glasses. At the end of day, all this information is fed into the patient’s electronic health record and the hospital IT system is updated with latest information of the warehouse of medicines, inpatient and outpatient records and the number of available beds etc.

Where else can this be used?

This technology of smart glass has been successfully implemented in one of the company warehouses in Austria. Knapp AG is a material handling and logistics software solution provider in Austria who developed augmented reality glasses using KiSoft Vision solution which is analogous to voice recognition but here, the prompts are visual as opposed to audio. These glasses are used in their warehouse to pick up products, sort them and replenish in a faster and easier way. Wearable glasses are better than the voice solutions because pallet building optimization works better with it. Pallet building optimization is based on showing the worker how to stack the cases on a pallet to maximize cube and ensure light items are safe and meeting case grouping objectives. Especially it is useful where the items require a lot of scans and too many serial codes are involved. This video shows how the smart glass has improved warehouse management at Knapp AG.

So what? How is this useful for supply chain management?
There’s work being done in this technology so that apps can be developed which can be connected with the smart glass and a layer can be developed in the realm of supply chain by integrating live data, social media about real objects, places, cartons, pallets, trucks and staff to spare parts, warehouse, deliveries and ultimately, the consumers. With these apps, it will be easier to collaborate with anyone and everyone in the entire supply chain and make decisions in real-time. Gone are the days when we could know when and where the item is out of stock; now it’s time to know why an item is out of stock! The main issue with supply chain management is that almost 80% of the data relating to the supply chain is external to each entity. It’s with different companies, on different systems and different formats. This makes the supply chain a group of individual silos making it hard for us to integrate. Google glass/ augmented reality solves this problem by making the supply chain a seamless flow of vital information in real time.  

Can you give a real world example? Again, how does this work?
Imagine yourself as one of the logistics planning manager in an enterprise: You are waiting for a truck which is running an hour late already and the manufacturing department manager is expecting the material from you right now! On the other hand, the customer wants his order delivered tomorrow! On top of all this, you have an important meeting which will run for another hour,that you can’t miss. You do not have any further information on any of the problems and how to solve them. Now imagine, you walk into the meeting room and wear you smart glasses and you can see the picture of the truck and you have the current expected arrival time based on the real-time traffic density and through your glasses you can update this information on the other IT systems such as the manufacturing department and the CRM etc. so that necessary arrangements can be made. Isn’t your life beautiful now?

Versatility: There’s work being done on building an enterprise app-store which can be used similar to an Apple or Android app store with wide range of business applications that can be used on the versatile Google glass platform. This could be a huge opportunity for both established software supply chain vendors and emerging software companies. These apps are created by various vendors such as enterprise software vendors, niche players with expertise in specific planning or scheduling software, middleware vendors and most importantly the cloud vendors! With the help of these apps and the Google glass platform, valuable data sources over the extended supply chain and external data sources such as weather, traffic, DHL etc which will enrich existing data the business operation on a global level can be carried out with mind boggling accuracy. Costs can be reduced, go-to-market can be accelerated and ultimately, quality and customer loyalty can be improved drastically by using the appropriate tools that this era of commercial revolution has to offer us!

Do you think augmented reality can help improve the global supply chain? I would love to hear your thoughts!! J


No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.