Although innovation can be hard to measure, it has been suggested that investment in internal technology such as back-office functions or logistics operations is an excellent marker of how deep innovation runs in a company.
At Bonfiglioli, for example, we’re constantly seeking fresh ideas and technology to improve our customers’ experience and help our teams work more effectively. This innovative spirt is now on full display in our EVO plant after a recent project to transform how our warehouse operatives pick components for production orders.
The result of the project, a collaboration with our technology partner, Var Group, is a state-of-the-art “virtual pick to light” solution based on augmented reality. The technology works via a standard tablet which is fixed to the trolleys our operatives use to pick products in our warehouse: by utilising real-time information from our management software the tablets overlay onto the warehouse environment visual markers and acoustic signals that guide our teams towards the exact location of components.
The project was delivered by a multi-disciplinary team drawing on expertise from a range of Bonfiglioli’s functions. The team continually refined the technology to integrate it with our own needs. This involved several stages, including choosing and positioning markers in the warehouse; selecting the best device to interact with the markers; developing an interface between our management systems and the automated guided vehicles; and ensuring our operatives could fully test the system so they were comfortable with the solution.
The benefits of the project have been immediate. Picking times and errors have been reduced, which translates into a more streamlined customer experience. And, thanks to the intuitive technology, on-the-job training for new operatives is now significantly easier, in line with our commitment to empowering people through digitalisation.
However, this is only the first phase of the project. A second stage, which began in September, will see the addition of technology that helps our picking team place products in trolleys in the optimum production line-feeding position.