Leading logistics solutions provider KNAPP is in the final development stages with its revolutionary optically guided picking system, which was previewed at CeMAT last year and is expected to be ready for installation early in 2010.
Branded ‘KiSoft VISION’, the optically guided picking system was demonstrated to members of the UK logistics press in KNAPP’s state-of-the-art showroom at the company’s recent MOVE 09 visitor event, held at the group’s headquarters in Graz, Austria.
KiSoft VISION’s integrated navigation system guides pickers to each required pick location using special software that superimposes virtual information – such as arrow symbols – directly in the visual field of the operator via a head-mounted display. This software technology is known as ‘augmented reality’. "The technology is still in the development phase," explains Craig Rollason, Head of Sales and Marketing for KNAPP UK Ltd, "but the final tool will be similar in weight and design to regular glasses." At the pick location, the goods to be picked are optically highlighted for the picker and an integrated camera reads barcodes, lot numbers and serial numbers to confirm the pick without any further human intervention. "The automatic visual recognition means that accuracy is higher than with voice systems," explains Craig Rollason.
In addition to offering 100% error-free manual picking, KiSoft VISION allows new employees to be trained extremely quickly and to work flexibly. As with voice-directed picking, the system allows operators to keep both hands free for order picking. The components of KiSoft VISION are controlled via a warehouse software suite called KiSoft Flexible Picking, a solution that makes integration of this revolutionary picking technology in existing operations both rapid and simple. To optimise the comfort and ergonomics of the solution, KNAPP has been working in partnership with Austrian and German universities, as well as the Ars Electronica Futurelab in Linz.
KiSoft VISION is just one solution within KNAPP’s current drive for innovation to make the concept of the error-free warehouse a reality. Picking accuracy is universally desired but is now also becoming a legal requirement. Some of KNAPP’s US pharmaceutical customers that are fulfilling direct orders face a régime of ‘3 strikes and you’re out’ in terms of misdelivery of controlled substances; the threat of the whole warehouse being closed down makes accuracy absolutely vital. Explains Craig Rollason, "Although lot tracking is not yet a legal requirement in pharmaceutical wholesale in the UK – although it is in veterinary wholesale – it is likely to become law at some point. Lot tracking is common in Eastern Europe and will be come a legal requirement in France in 2011."