+49 (0) 421 9600-10
5 April 2017 - Jann Raveling

Vision of the future – order picking with smart glasses and wearable computing solutions from Ubimax

Investing in Bremen
Augmented reality in logistics with the Bremen-based market leader

Smart glasses by UBIMAX used by DHL
Smart glasses by UBIMAX used by DHL © DHL

A shelf in the Schuppen 2 building in Bremen’s Überseestadt district, stacked to the top with office supplies. Pens, glue, sticky tape. And next to it a trolley with empty trays. My task: to allocate supplies from the shelf to an order – so-called order picking. Using Google Glass, a pair of smart glasses with a transparent display. Glasses on, and we’re off: a graphic appears in my field of vision. Two lots of glue from shelf 2.1 to be placed in tray 3. Grab the indicated items, scan the barcodes using the built-in camera in the glasses and place the items in the trolley. Simple. The smart glasses take a little getting used to initially, but at 54 grams they’re comfortable to wear. The display in the top right corner feels natural and doesn’t get in the way. And the major advantage is that my hands are free.

Order picking lists and hand-held scanners are now a thing of the past. In many warehouses this is still how orders are picked, i.e. with a printed list and a picker who makes his or her way through the warehouse in search of the correct shelf. Smart glasses make this method obsolete. And besides the elements of each order, they can also display the route through the labyrinth of the warehouse.

Easy to use: smart glasses display the right lot
Easy to use: smart glasses display the right lot © Easy to use: smart glasses display the right lot

Ubimax is both the market leader and a pioneer

All this is possible thanks to the xPick software created by wearable computing specialist Ubimax. Based in Bremen’s Überseestadt district, the global market leader develops hardware and software that connects humans and machines. “The advantages are obvious: both hands are free to do the actual task, the number of errors is reduced through detailed graphical instructions, and every process step is documented digitally and can be retraced at any time,” explains Leonid Poliakov, Head of Marketing and project manager at Ubimax.

Efficiency gains of 25 per cent in logistics

One company already using the technology is DHL. During a pilot project in early 2015, ten order pickers at a distribution centre in the Netherlands were equipped with smart glasses, and the xPick pick-by-vision software was directly connected to the company’s warehousing system. The result: the testers picked 20,000 items for 9,000 orders with a minimal error rate, and were 25 per cent more productive than their colleagues who were using hand-held scanners. That piqued the management’s interest, and they are now preparing to introduce the system at more of its warehouses with an extended pilot project.

Intel uses Ubimax in its distribution center

A more recent example is the Intel distribution center in Arizona. Developed by Ubimax, Intel successfully deployed in early 2017 the Pick-by-Vision solution xPick. By using a combination of smart glasses a wearable ring scanners, pickers reduced their required pick time per box by 29 percent. On the very first use without any training, order pickers were already 15 percent faster using Vision Picking compared to the picking process with hand-held scanners. Based on the promising outcomes, Intel is evaluating the further expansion of the xPick solution in its warehouses around the globe.

The manufacturer of the smart glasses, Intel Recon Jet, has produced a video showing the advantages of the system:

Focus on usability

Its success lies in the ease of use. The display is self-explanatory and integrates naturally into the field of vision. And I’ve certainly found it easy to use. I don’t even want to take the glasses off – why can’t I always have useful information in my field of vision? “Humans can interpret graphical information faster and with fewer errors than, say, alphanumerical character strings such as text, or even sound. The latter is also transient, i.e. it disappears as soon as it has been played, and is no longer available to the user,” Poliakov explains. Which is why the Bremen-based company places such a high value on an intuitively designed user interface. Large symbols, clear messages. A further advantage of smart glasses is that employees can be trained more quickly, which is particularly useful to companies with high staff turnover. And the connection to the ERP system, which records all processes within a company, means that all process steps are digitally recorded and can be retraced. The customer wants to cancel an order? One click is enough to check if the item has been packed yet. The smart glasses are the interface between human and machine, and that has persuaded DHL as well as Intel.

Customised solutions for any company

Other leading companies such as Daimler or VW also use xPick, and the software is adapted to their local requirements. “First we analyse the customer requirements exactly, then we develop a made-to-measure solution that connects to the existing systems, and finally we provide the hardware,” Poliakov says of the project process. It takes six to eight weeks to install a new system. Besides the smart glasses, Ubimax also provides smart watches and intelligent wristbands. These can be used not only for order picking, but also for other processes where smart glasses can help, e.g. providing expert remote support for a mechanic. DHL have produced a video showing how order picking using smart glasses works in practice:

Life quality
25 April 2017
We love Bremen: seven declarations of affection

Bremen: Down-to-earth, yet always ready to surprise you. An attractive place to live, a city through which we can move easily and without stress – on foot along the river Weser, on two wheels through the many parks, or by tram through the city centre. People from different cities and countries tell us why they fell in love with Bremen and have made their lives here.

Investing in Bremen
20 April 2017
This 3D metal printing plant manufactures titanium and aluminium components in Bremen

Lighter, more bespoke and more intricate: for companies open to new ideas in manufacturing and construction, metal parts produced by 3D printers present an economic alternative to conventional die cutting, rolling and milling. Leading the way is Materialise, a company with its own metal printing plant in Bremen.

Investing in Bremen
18 April 2017
Bremen's twin city: from one port to another

Bremen has been twinned with the city of Dalian in north-eastern China since 1985. Find out more about the similarities and connections that the two port cities share.

Quality of life
13 April 2017
German champions from the city on the Weser

Up to now, cricket has been very much a niche sport in Germany. But that is changing. In Bremen, a woman is calling the shots in this male-dominated sport – with great success. Her men’s team are the 2016 German cricket champions.

Investing in Bremen
4 April 2017
At a glance: direct investments in Bremen in 2016

In 2016, companies invested a combined total of €229 million in the federal state of Bremen. Where do these investors hail from, how many jobs have they created, and what is their line of business? Our infographics provide an overview.

Maritime economy and logistics
23 March 2017
Brexit and its consequences for the transport industry

How will the UK’s impending exit from the EU affect the logistics sector? Günther Hörbst, Managing Director of the Via Bremen Foundation, on the economic links between the United Kingdom and the EU

Investing in Bremen
21 March 2017
Forging a link between Bremen and China

The Chinese designer Haoyu Li combines his German design degree with Chinese business acumen. Now he is opening a design office in Bremen, with the aim of making it easier for Chinese products to enter the German market, and to bring German brands to China.

Quality of life
16 March 2017
Bremen – Germany's third-greenest city

The colours of the local football team are not the only thing that's green about Bremen, as you'll see when you take a stroll around its parks and open spaces. A look at the statistics shows that Bremen is not only Germany's tenth-largest city, it is also its third-greenest, offering plenty of space to enjoy nature.

Investing in Bremen
14 March 2017
Last orders before closing time: Start your own business now before Brexit kicks in

Keen to remain in Bremen? Then why not combine residency status with self-employment? Manuel Kühn from Bremeninvest’s welcome service knows all about how a start-up could allow British citizens to beat Brexit and kill two birds with one stone.

9 March 2017
Successes, comebacks and newcomers: Bremen holds the key to the gates of Europe

The high standard of logistical expertise in the state of Bremen functioned as a key to open doors, making this a successful year for Bremen. 2016’s successes were marked by automobiles and steel, welcoming ambitious international companies.

Investing in Bremen
7 March 2017
"We have the right solution for any enquiry" – why it's so easy for international companies to set up business in Bremen

From initial idea to successful move. Andreas Gerber, who heads up the international relocation team at Bremeninvest, knows what international companies need to do to set up a business in Bremen. Here he tells us about the most important steps on the ...

Quality of life
2 March 2017
7 reasons why business people quickly feel at home in Bremen

Hard facts take top priority when it comes to the choice of location for international or domestic businesses. But the faster we feel comfortable outside the workplace in the everyday routines and culture of a foreign country, the sooner we feel at home. In addition to trade, science – and of course its port, Bremen has plenty to offer when it comes to quality of life.

Automotive Industries
28 February 2017
The biggest car park in Europe

BLG LOGISTICS GROUP AG & Co. KG’s AutoTerminal in Bremerhaven is a record-breaking automotive hub. Every year, the terminal handles some 2.3 million vehicles. But that’s not all.

Creative / Media
23 February 2017
Co-working in Bremen - nine places where you can find a new office community

Going it alone is rarely an easy option. Co-working enables entrepreneurs to work in a shared space and experience the benefits and synergies that come with this. There are nine co-working spaces in Bremen – which one is right for you?

Welcome Service
21 February 2017
Cutting through red tape with our welcome service

Permits and authorisations, a mountain of applications and a language barrier too. These are just some of the difficulties you face when starting a business abroad. Luckily, an advice centre opened in Bremen in early 2015 that can help you through the jungle: Bremeninvest’s welcome service.

Investing in Bremen
16 February 2017
World Trade Center Bremen: everything under one roof

Geographical distance and cultural differences make it hard to relocate or start up a company in another country. Luckily, help is at hand from the team at the World Trade Center (WTC) in Bremen. They'll do all they can to make your international business a success.

15 February 2017
"Bremen has everything that a hub for the space industry needs"

In December 2016 ministers from the European Space Agency (ESA) member states met to determine the roadmap for the European space sector for the years ahead. Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria and Bremen submitted joint recommendations. In the following interview Dr Peter Vits, Bremen's State Coordinator for the Space Sector, talks about Bremen's strengths and opportunities.

14 February 2017
Take-off for Bremen: what makes the city a hub for aerospace expertise

The sky is not the limit, at least not in Bremen. All parts of the aerospace sector are represented in the city, from R&D to production. Aeroplane wings, Ariane rockets and Galileo satellites – Bremen is one of the leading locations in the international aerospace industry. Here are five factors behind Bremen’s story of success.

31 January 2017
“50 per cent of the exhibition space has already been reserved”

In 2015 Bremen won the right to host the International Astronautical Congress for the second time, after having successfully held the event in 2003. Its bid was the result of a collaboration between the Bremen regional government and Bremen’s space industry and space research sector. Event partners include the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and the German Aerospace Centre.

Automotive Industries
27 January 2017
E-mobility: why electric vehicles are on the up in Bremen

The Bremen region has long been a pioneer in electric mobility and is now set to enjoy further success after Mercedes-Benz and Borgward announced that they will be making electric vehicles in the city.

Automotive Industries
24 January 2017
Five reasons why Bremen is a leading automotive hub

Bremen knows how to make cars: the Mercedes-Benz plant by the Weser river has been in operation for almost 40 years, is the focal point of the city’s automotive industry and automotive clusters, and is now the company’s biggest global facility in terms of vehicle production numbers. Reason enough for an ever-growing number of suppliers and logistics firms to base themselves in Bremen.

Investing in Bremen
21 December 2016
Sigma Textil GmbH: how Muhammad-Farhan Aslam turned his father's business around

Sometimes you have to learn from other people's mistakes and trust your instincts. That is what Muhammad-Farhan Aslam believed when he took over his father's business. Not only did he change the business model, but he also shelved his own plans to move to England. Instead he stayed in Bremen. And it turned out to be one of many good decisions that he made.

Maritime economy and logistics
14 December 2016
The Cargo Distribution Centre (GVZ) in Bremen: a logistics hub with a bright future

For 30 years, the Cargo Distribution Centre in Bremen has delivered excellence – as an investment location and a logistics hub. Today more than 150 companies employing approximately 8,000 people are based at the site. It offers direct links to the ports, the autobahn and has a close proximity to Bremen City Airport.

Investing in Bremen
7 December 2016
Bremeninvest guidelines for foreign nationals setting up businesses in Bremen

Language barriers, unfamiliar legal and fiscal systems, qualifications that need to be recognised. There are many additional hurdles that entrepreneurs have to overcome when setting up a new branch or a new company in a different country. Bremeninvest is committed to offering you advice and support from the outset.

Investing in Bremen
1 December 2016
Innovative spinal surgery company NuVasive finds success in Bremen

You might expect a Bremen-based company specialising in innovative instruments and implants for spinal surgery to be located at the Technology Park. But you'd be wrong. NuVasive Germany GmbH has its head office at the heart of the city centre next to Wallanlagen Park. Now employing a team of 44 people, the company generates annual revenue of more than €10 million – a figure that looks set to rise.

Investing in Bremen
30 November 2016
Chinese LED business finds success in Bremen

David Zhou came to Bremen three years ago with the aim of conquering the market – and a new continent – with LEDs. He started his business selling LED lighting and electronics at the World Trade Centre at Bremen Airport and has gradually built it up over the past few years.

more articles