Image credit: ProGlove
Improving efficiency on the manufacturing floor can directly impact the bottom line. Industrial processes, including tracking inventory and supplies, are increasingly automated. Human involvement is still necessary, but it can introduce logistical slowdowns and is prone to error. Employees typically scan barcodes using a pistol scanner, but it’s a clumsy solution for high-frequency scanning environments.
One time-saving device that is showing promise comes from German technology company ProGlove. The company has created the MARK family of wearable barcode scanners, which allow employees to remain hands-free while scanning, saving time, reducing worker stress, and minimizing errors. According to ProGlove, when compared to an average scanning pistol, its wearables reduce the amount of lifting required by 1.5 tons per shift, and real-time scan feedback allows users to optimize hand movements and cut errors by as much as 33 percent.
The ProGlove scanner options include the MARK Basic, MARK 2 mid-range, MARK 2 standard-range, and MARK Display. They vary based on connectivity, ruggedness, scan distance, and number of scans. The newest is the MARK Display, and it features a 1.54-inch, 200x200 pixel e-paper screen on the device. All of the MARK scanners are about the size of a matchbox and weigh less than two ounces. They clip into a mounting device attached to the top of a special glove worn by the user.
ProGlove offers three glove designs which work with any of the MARK barcode scanners. The standard full-coverage gloves have a textile trigger located on the side of the index finger. Also available are two fingerless glove options that wrap around the palm; one has a textile trigger located on the side of the index finger and the other has a textile trigger in the palm that is activated by the middle or ring finger. For less frequent scanning needs, ProGlove offers the Reel. This pull-to-scan option attaches to a belt clip or lanyard; the scanner is activated when pulled from the clip.
Image credit: ProGlove
The wireless scanners use audio, LED lights, and haptics to provide immediate feedback to the wearer regarding the success of a scan. ProGlove MARK scanners are compatible with both 1D and 2D barcodes, and they hold a charge for eight to ten hours, depending on use.
Connect to the Cloud
The MARK scanning devices can be paired to a ProGlove Gateway or Access Point. The Gateway allows up to five MARK scanners to connect to a stationary Windows or Linux terminal. The Access Point wirelessly accepts and then stores data from the scanned barcodes; the data can be downloaded to a PC, IPS, terminal, or other USB-equipped device for analysis.
Alternatively, MARK devices can be paired to the ProGlove Connect app on any Android device, and data is directly transmitted via Bluetooth, eliminating the need for an access point. Recently, the company updated the ProGlove Connect app to notify wearers when they are not adhering to social distancing guidelines.
The MARK scanners also can be linked to the ProGlove Cloud, which enables device management and provides data analytics. Using data from the Cloud system, companies can track packages, identify or predict supply chain bottlenecks, and adjust the workforce as needed. It also allows users to quickly pair devices, monitor use, create workflow rules, and manage devices.
Faster Scanning Improves Productivity
ProGlove is being used in the automotive, manufacturing, logistics, retail, and aviation industries. To date, ProGlove has calculated that its wearable technology has scanned more than 5.5 billion items and has reduced scan times by an average of 50 percent, which has saved companies more than six million hours of labor and prevented more than 23 million errors.
Volkswagen uses ProGlove in more than 40 sites in four continents and plans to further extend its use of the technology. The automotive manufacturer picks one million items a year and has recorded a decreased scan time of two to four seconds per item, which translates to as much as 1,000 hours of time saved.
German airline Lufthansa uses ProGlove at check-in and packing stations at its shipping and handling locations. DHL also uses the technology to expedite processing of large or bulky items for shipping. Rather than hauling those items to a fixed workstation, the ProGlove allows workers to scan from anywhere in the shipping warehouse. The technology is making it easier for workers and more transparent for shippers.
In June 2020, ProGlove teamed with StayLinked, which develops mobile software and industrial IoT platforms for legacy supply chain systems. The companies will provide process automation for warehousing, distribution and logistics companies with legacy systems.
As more items are shipped and manufacturing operations ramp up again, having the ability to track and move items and parts quickly and accurately is critical to success. Wearable barcode scanners will help ease the financial strain companies face as they resume normal operations.