Lately, while gathering with friends and family, I see many of them sporting wearable technology. It has been a growing trend for the last few years. What is different this year is that I am also seeing wearable technology in my work life in manufacturing ERP applications. This may be the year when Wearable Technology for Manufacturing came of age. According to the Wall Street Journal, test programs under way at Boeing Co., Daimler AG, United Parcel Service Inc. and other companies show how one type of wearable, smart glasses, can reduce the need for manuals and printed instructions, eliminate production errors and cut steps from processes, resulting in improved productivity.
In some factories, manufacturing applications are now delivered to employees on the Shop Floor and in the Warehouse on smart glasses. Software provider Vital Enterprises sees the main advantage of smart glasses in manufacturing as allowing hands-free operation with access to information and remote collaborators. Engineers can see exactly what line workers are looking at and communicate directly with them. This greatly improves throughput and decreases errors. The company currently has commercial applications in air and space assembly and in medical and is beginning to work with pharmaceutical manufacturers.
In the warehouse, forklift drivers and pickers are directed to the proper location by the most efficient route, stopping along the way to pick for additional orders.
After the sale, engineering can communicate with field service to repair and upgrade complex products. They can look at videos and templates right on their smart safety glasses.
Wearables Working with Cloud ERP
Smart glasses can provide workers doing their jobs on the line insights into what the ERP needs done immediately or inform the ERP of new problems.
Ash Eldritch, co-founder and chief science officer of Vital Enterprises says, “Companies are deploying at the pilot stage to look for cost and efficiency benefits. The gains are largest for geographically distributed teams that can benefit from a telepresence and for cases where there are long process checklists, such as in technology transfer procedures.”
Smart glasses are currently being used for hands-free instructional support, with text or schematics put into the wearer’s view while they are carrying out a complex task. With smart glasses, Daimler assembly line workers view their checklists during their inspections, reducing the likelihood of missing an item or two because of a faulty memory. When a defect was discovered, the inspectors can immediately make a voice-recorded report, photograph the problem with their glasses and forward their report and photos to workers who correct the errors.
To take advantage of wearables in the workplace requires a contemporary technology foundation. The Salesforce platform provides the proper environment to support wearables today while offering the flexibility to accommodate future wearable functionality.
Rootstock is native to the Salesforce platform which allows it to plug into Wide Area Networks (WAN) and deliver the Rootstock application to employees' glasses on the shop floor, in the warehouse and in the field.
Today, Rootstock users are able to take advantage of wearables to share documents and real time images. They can receive chatter from co-workers and updates from machinery. They can provide hands on training throughout the organization.
People from a variety of disciplines across the company can collaborate on product development in real time and support products after the sale through the Internet of Things. Wearables interfaced with Manufacturing Cloud ERP makes such collaboration much easier.