Logistics 2.0 – Augmented Reality Transforms Logistics Processes

Bonn, Germany: DHL has issued a new study on Augmented Reality in logistics, focusing on possible applications of this emerging trend in the different stages of the supply chain. The trend report illustrates how operations in warehouses, during transportation and last-mile delivery as well as value-added services could be enhanced by computer-generated sensory input such as videos or graphics. The trend report has been developed by DHL Customer Solutions & Innovation’s Trend Research team as part of an on-going research project into Augmented Reality in logistics. DHL is planning to test some of the derived use cases in proof of concept studies.

“Recent headlines such as heads-up displays on windshields or use of Augmented Reality for vehicle repairs from the automotive sector shows how rapidly this technology is developing and finding its way into industries outside of the IT sector. We believe that the technology also offers high potential for the logistics industry, and are currently selecting use cases for further research”, explained Dr. Markus Kückelhaus, Director Trend Research, DHL Customer Solutions & Innovation.

The trend report explains briefly the emerging trend and innovation in Augmented Reality technology and hardware and how it can be implemented in logistics. It also provides an overview on best practices from various industries. “Augmented Reality in Logistics” presents 11 different possible applications for the industry, among them improved picking in warehouses, for example, by equipping staff with head mounted displays, they could find the right route and the right item more efficiently. The surplus in information would also reduce picking errors.

The report also sketches how transportation could be perfected, for instance, by equipping delivery vehicles with augmented windshields that can display real time traffic data as well as other valuable information such as cargo temperature and alerts, minimizing driver distraction. Moreover, drivers and staff at the parcel hub could be equipped with wearable devices to gain critical information on each parcel such as contents, weight and destination. This would improve loading processes and reduce handling damages. Finally, Augmented Reality could improve maintenance and repair services offered by logistics providers, if workers are equipped with smart glasses that blend in step-by-step instructions.

DHL is open to collaboration with partners to further research Augmented Reality applications in everyday operations. Furthermore, in order to make the technology more tangible for customers, DHL is currently developing an interactive augmented reality exhibit at the Deutsche Post DHL Innovation Center in Troisdorf, Germany.

The trend report “Augmented Reality in Logistics” has been created on the basis of the overarching Logistics Trend Radar, which DHL uses to identify and leverage trends and technologies relevant for the logistics industry. The report is available online at www.dhl.com/augmentedreality.