SCB: So wearables are coming to the supply chain after all. Tell me about the way, shape, and form of them.
Grieco: What’s occurring at the moment is the Industry 4.0 transition. We’ve created a wearable that’s a sleeve skin which frees up the hand. We believe in giving humans the ability to do their jobs efficiently, and removing some of the complexities that they’re experiencing with technology. It makes their job a lot easier to gather information, and creates a smooth transition from the picking or assembly line.
SCB: There have been attempts to use wearables in the supply chain, but they haven't been very sophisticated. What's the difference now? What is it about the technology today that allows it to start taking hold in the supply chain?
Grieco: From a technology standpoint, the industry is condensing the architecture to a form factor where it becomes easier to use. I really believe in the human-centric approach. What I see is that humans are still going to play a big part in the technology area.
SCB: There’s nothing particularly new about headsets and voice-directed picking. What’s new about this glove?
Grieco: There’s a weight factor. One of the studies we did found that the use of a glove sleeve on an eight-hour shift reduced around 1.5 tons of lifting. You increase a worker’s ability to function while decreasing fatigue. Humans can do the day-to-day function, hands free. They don't have to let go of a parcel, pick up a scanner, scan the parcel, put the scanner back in the holster and deliver the parcel. We did another quick study showing that use of the sleeve eliminated about four seconds per deliverable. That adds up over eight hours.
SCB: In the course of their use, wearables produce data. How is that data flowing upstream? How is it a value to the operation?
Grieco: Sensors are collecting data and forming it into a database. So one of the big things I see down the road is the use of analytics. It helps you to streamline the process, and sets up your organization to be as efficient as possible from an operational standpoint.
SCB: In the world of the internet of things and big data, data is swamping us. You’ve got to have analytics in order to make any sense of it.
Grieco: I totally agree. We're gathering so much data today, but what do we do with it? Sensors and data are going to take us to the next level of Industry 4.0.
SCB: Do you see wearables as being an alternative to the use of robots in the warehouse, or complementary to it?
Grieco: My view is that it's going to augment. I believe in more of a central, human structure, where wearables will be part of the function that we do day to day.
SCB: What’s the most interesting and exciting thing you see coming down the pike in the area of wearables and supply-chain innovation? What really excites you?
Grieco: The thing that keeps me pumped is the data that we talked about. We’re collecting it from sensors, scanners, and all types of wearables. What we do with the data — how we slice it and deliver it back to the end user — is going to be paramount.
SCB: At some point we’ll need artificial intelligence to make sense of all that data, right?
Grieco: Totally correct. I envision that the A.I. application will flag it, correct it, and send the response back to the dashboard or human who’s using the wearable.
Timely, incisive articles delivered directly to your inbox.