Anyone who’s visited an automotive parts depot recently has to come away amazed at how easy parts picking has become from that of even a decade ago where it was a monumental task to just get the part request started.
Now Volkswagen is taking the process a step farther with the introduction of 3D smart glasses to the order-picking process at its main facility in Wolfsburg, following a 3-month pilot project. Besides providing a number of useful features without the need to return to a computer terminal or carry other equipment, the main benefit is that it frees up both hands of the parts handler.
“Digitalisation is becoming increasingly important in production,” said Reinhard de Vries, Head of Plant Logistics at Wolfsburg. “The 3D smart glasses take cooperation between humans and systems to a new level.”
Usage of the glasses is for now voluntary, as employees are gradually introduced to the technology and the way it is intended to work. As they get acclimatized to the new tool, they quickly ramp up the information processing. The facility is currently working with 30 associates, mostly in windshields and driveshafts, with plans to expand to other departments as feedback is obtained from users.
“The benefits of new technology like the smart glasses can only be assessed effectively if we can check them out in normal production operation,” said Works Council member (a kind of shop steward) Mario Kurznack-Bodner. “The colleagues concerned approach the technology without any preconceived notions. Apart from health, safety and occupational medicine criteria, it is important to the Works Council that feedback from employees should be taken up and reflected in everyday work.”
Using the smart glasses, users receive all the information they require in their field of vision, including parts numbers and location. The technology is voice or touch actuated for quick and easy operation. The camera in the glasses can scan barcodes for quick confirmation and added security – correctly picked parts return a green barcode, while incorrectly picked barcodes are shown in red.