Neckarsulm, 12 January 2016 – Bechtle, Germany’s largest B2B IT service provider, has begun using augmented reality (AR) glasses at its logistics hub, located at company headquarters in Neckarsulm. This is the world’s first live deployment of SAP’s mobile AR Warehouse Picker app. Bechtle and SAP have been collaborating on a project since May 2014 to drive the integration of forward-looking digital technology with warehouse logistics. This successful deployment of smart glasses sets the stage for additional planned applications.
After an extensive testing phase, Bechtle’s vision of hands-free picking in its warehouse has become a reality. In recent weeks, warehouse employees have begun controlling select picking processes via smart glasses. These wearables communicate with Bechtle’s digital warehouse management system and the mobile SAP AR Warehouse Picker app, thus integrating revolutionary AR technology into the pan-European IT provider’s logistics processes. “Bechtle was selected as a pilot site after our logistics centre in Neckarsulm was transformed into a powerful, trend-setting hub. This entailed expanding our warehouse and mezzanines as well as integrating smart conveyor technology and the state-of-the-art SAP Extended Warehouse Management application. The use of data glasses in our thriving yet complex day-to-day business is an important milestone on our way to future-ready logistics,” states Klaus Kratz, Head of Logistics at Bechtle.
Focus on increased productivity.
Bechtle is deploying the Vuzix and Epson smart glasses as an alternative to handheld scanners, which it will continue to use for the time being. The glasses display information directly in the user’s line of vision through SAP’s Android app, which communicates continuously with Bechtle’s warehouse management system via Wi-Fi. The app directs the wearer through the picking process step by step, keeping the user’s hands free the entire time. Sight-controlled barcode/QR code scanning and powerful voice recognition allow users to quickly, intuitively and accurately control tasks that previously required manual input. The solution also offers an integrated low stock check to ensure an adequate inventory of the product just picked.
Broad application of digital technology.
Bechtle plans to expand the use of smart wearables to other processes. “Our initial focus is on the simple, labour-intensive processes involved in picking small parts, as this is where the benefits of AR technology are reaped most quickly. In the future, we may apply this technology to the receiving department and complex delivery orders,” explains Mr Kratz. Bechtle’s proactive first-mover role benefits not only the company’s customers, but also the international SAP Extended Warehouse Management user community, who will learn from Bechtle’s experiences. “This logistics solution is a concrete example of how a company’s value-creation processes can be improved through the use of digital technology. It demonstrates clearly how digitisation directly benefits the customer, in this case through highly efficient logistics,” remarks Dr Thomas Olemotz, Chairman of the Board at Bechtle AG.