Optimizing inventory with augmented reality

Efficient warehouse management is crucial for businesses to optimize inventory, and therefore reduce costs and meet customer demands. With augmented reality (AR), businesses are able to revolutionize their inventory management processes.

Illustration showing employees using vision picking in warehousing and logistics

This article explores the significance of inventory management, the concept of inventory optimization, the benefits of AR in inventory management, and how TeamViewer’s Frontline platform can empower businesses in this endeavor.

5 reasons to use AR technology for your warehouse management

  • Inventory optimization

    Inventory checking has traditionally been a time-consuming and error-prone task. Manual methods required employees to physically search the warehouse for stock verification, leading to inaccuracies. However, augmented reality offers a hands-free solution, allowing warehouse staff to access detailed task information through smart glasses. This enables efficient loading and unloading processes, ensuring accurate stock management.

  • Order picking

    Order picking plays an important role in warehouse operations and is a rather costly task. Manual order picking methods like pick by scan turned out to be inefficient and prone to errors. With the adoption of augmented reality, order picking has been transformed by equipping operators with AR smart glasses capable of visualizing picking relevant data right in the field of view.

  • Remote assistance

    Two-way communication makes it easy to get instant help with exception handling or other unforeseen incidents. In case of a problem, the picker can simply call the supervisor and via the integrated camera, it’s a “you see what I see” principle — the supervisor is looking over the person’s shoulder and can help immediately.

  • Operational efficiency

    By utilizing augmented reality tools, the execution of multiple orders at once becomes more seamless. Smart glasses provide “always on” information — no need for clikcing through complex menus like RF guns. A lot of activities can take place parallel — for instance, while the picker is putting items into a tote, they can confirm the amount of the items simultaneously via voice. This results in reduced delivery time, minimized downtime, and ultimately increased customer satisfaction.

  • Warehouse planning

    Modern warehouses are far more than traditional distribution centers today. Developing a detailed warehouse strategy is important for the success of businesses, which want to ensure safe storage and optimal space utilization. AR can assist warehouse managers in planning and experimenting with the warehouse layout by creating interactive 3D digital representations. AR smart glasses provide comprehensive visualizations on proposed modifications, saving significant time and costs compared to traditional planning and redesigning methods.

What is inventory optimization?

Inventory optimization (IO) involves a strategic approach to aligning the working capital invested in inventory with service-level objectives across various stock-keeping units (SKUs). The goal is to manage inventory levels to strike a balance between supply and demand. This practice includes analyzing historical data, market trends, and customer behavior to make important decisions about stock levels, replenishment schedules, and order quantities.

Inventory management plays an important role in ensuring the smooth functioning of a business’s supply chain. Effective inventory management allows businesses to avoid overstocking or running out of stock as well as to minimize holding and logistic costs. Consequently, order fulfillment rates increase, which ideally leaves the business with satisfied and loyal customers, ultimately leading to maximized profitability.

Why is inventory optimization crucial for a successful business?

Inventory optimization is crucial for business success as it ensures customer satisfaction, streamlines order fulfillment, and minimizes costs associated with excess inventory. Moreover, effective inventory management contributes to overall supply chain resilience by monitoring levels and aiding in precise forecasting, planning, and resource allocation. This, in turn, supports efficient cash flow management, leaving resources for other critical business activities.

Meeting customer demands

Efficient inventory management ensures the availability of the right products, leading to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Enhanced order fulfillment

Well-managed inventory simplifies operational workflows, leading to optimized order fulfillment.

Significantly reducing costs

Effective inventory management minimizes costs associated with carrying inventory while at the same time avoiding stockouts and missed sales opportunities.

Increasing supply chain resilience

Inventory management contributes to supply chain resilience by monitoring levels, implementing contingency plans, and minimizing the impact of disruptions.

Precise forecasting and planning

Accurate inventory management enables informed decision-making for forecasting, planning, and resource allocation. This can also improve your production schedules.

Supporting cash flow management

Efficient cash flow management is achieved through optimal utilization of inventory capital in order to avoid excess inventory and leave resources for other important business activities.

Augmented reality

The most exciting development in inventory management

AR improves warehouse operations by overlaying digital information onto the real-world environment, allowing employees to interact seamlessly with warehousing data. TeamViewer's industrial AR platform TeamViewer Frontline offers cutting-edge AR solutions for businesses to optimize their inventory management processes.

While augmented reality is already established in video gaming or the online retail industry, it has been gradually expanding into the realm of warehouse management and operations in the form of so called “vision picking”. And with that AR is about to revolutionize inventory management in various impactful ways.

Closeup of woman with safety helmet and smart glasses

TeamViewer’s solution to inventory optimization demands

Frontline is TeamViewer’s comprehensive productivity platform for businesses, providing seamless integration of augmented reality (AR) solutions. With its cutting-edge technology specifically developed for wearables, it optimizes manual work processes across diverse industries.

In a world where a disparity remains between digitalized and non-digitalized workers, our solutions empower on-site employees to unlock their full potential.

xPick: Our comprehensive warehousing and inventory solution

xPick combines the best warehouse practices, offering a lot of benefits. xPick visually displays information through article images, along with additional audio cues for enhanced guidance. The integration of scanners and smart glasses which are connected through Bluetooth increases efficiency for all operations. Utilizing body-worn technology enables hands-free operations. Seamless data exchange between the backend systems and workers reduces the likelihood of mistakes by presenting only relevant information, supported by pre-configured interfaces for easy integration. Intuitive control is facilitated through natural voice commands, allowing for seamless verification.

Moreover, xPick analyzes warehousing data to provide a central hub for accessing picking reports, managing users, and assigning tasks. The KPI dashboard enables managers or supervisors to monitor productivity effortlessly, while the ability to analyze captured data leads to better decision-making and faster reactions of warehouse workers.

To top it off, xPick offers compatibility with various devices and systems, turning it into a complete solution for managing all parts of inventory.

Discover how xPick can empower your business with warehouse efficiency

Implementing our vision-picking solution in your warehouse is easier than you think

Key features of Frontline’s solutions:

AR-guided workflows

By utilizing AR-guided workflows, workers can access step-by-step instructions and visual cues that aid in tackling complex tasks. This functionality significantly enhances accuracy, diminishes errors, and boosts overall productivity. AR seamlessly integrates digital information into the real-world environment, providing workers with valuable guidance throughout the processes.

Augmented reality remote assistance

TeamViewer enables remote experts to connect with warehouse workers using AR devices. This feature allows experts to see the real-time view from the worker's perspective, to provide guidance through voice and visual comments, and therefore to solve issues remotely. The benefits of this feature are reduced travel costs, increased efficiency, and minimized downtime.

Digital maintenance and inspection

The solutions of TeamViewer’s Frontline let you complete time-consuming inspection, service, and maintenance tasks faster. Technicians and workers can capture images or videos of equipment, procedures, or completed tasks, and instantly share them with co-workers or remote experts. TeamViewer’s solutions are also compatible with various devices, including smartphones, tablets, smart glasses, and wearables.

Real-time data access

Employees can access real-time data and information relevant to their tasks through AR devices. For example, this includes inventory levels, product specifications, and work instructions. By providing workers with instant access to critical information, they can make informed decisions, optimize workflows, and improve overall efficiency.

Samsung SDS relies on Frontline to increase efficiency and accuracy

  • 25–30% increase in picking speed
  • 100% hands-free order picking
  • Higher picking accuracy for better customer satisfaction
  • Improved workplace ergonomics for higher employee satisfaction

Frequently asked questions about inventory optimization

It’s a good idea to review your inventory and your strategies regularly. For most companies, a quarterly review is appropriate. This means that you take stock every month, review your strategies quarterly and adjust them if necessary.

Optimized inventory management provides important data on inventory levels and lets businesses learn about demand patterns and identify (seasonal) trends. This creates more reliable and accurate data input for demand forecasting models.

AR reduces picking errors by providing workers with visual guidance and real-time verification. This technology shows the picker the right article and storage location, checks the selection and guides them through the warehouse on the optimal route to ensure more efficient processes. Incorporating inventory synchronization can be seamlessly integrated within the picking processes.

Essentially, the software prompts the picker with a query regarding the presence of remaining items on the pallet. The picker then has the option to validate this status, including specifying the quantity of remaining items, thereby ensuring accurate maintenance of inventory numbers.

We’ve done this before. Now, let us do it for you.