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Release SATO launches Visual Warehouse™, the first 3D mapping and voice navigation system for logistics centers in Japan

Delivers accuracy and efficiency in inventory management and shipments through a floating location system

Aug 26, 2015

SATO, a leading global provider of Auto-ID solutions that empower workforces and streamline operations, together with Computer Engineering and Consulting, Ltd. (CEC), Japan’s leader in sales of logistic simulation software, announced the jointly developed Visual Warehouse ™, the industry’s first wearable navigation system intended for use in logistics centers that combines barcodes with virtual 3D mapping and indoor locating technologies.

Visual Warehouse™ can locate objects with greater precision – within a 30 cm margin of error – than conventional locator systems, with the help of wearable devices that navigate the worker to items using three-dimensional maps and voice guidance. The system facilitates receiving operations at warehouses that manage inventory in random locations, to improve efficiency in inventory management, speed up shipments by instructing the shortest route, and realize inventory/shipping management suited to the characteristics of each product. SATO will release the system in Japan this autumn as a solution for logistics sites and serve as exclusive distributor. CEC provides the 3D mapping software.

This solution combines SATO’s expertise in Auto-ID technologies such as barcodes and RFID with CEC’s 3D location and route map display technology. Developed for the logistics and distribution industry, it features the use of 3D images, video and audio over a wearable display device to free the hands of workers on site and improve efficiency in receiving, inspection and shipping work at 3D logistics centers/warehouses or in inventory management at factories. Also with a remote support feature that instructs the shortest route to a product with easy-to-understand voice guidance such as, “Two more meters to your desired product,” “Turn right at the next aisle,” or “Changes were made to the type and volume of products to ship,” the system helps with labor savings for shipping and improves quality of operation independent of worker experience level.

Conventional logistics procedures using paperwork are prone to inefficiency and errors, with the precision of work varying from person to person since less experienced workers have to check procedures as they go about their work. Visual Warehouse™, when integrated into the logistics infrastructure of a logistics center, tracks the precise location of stock using locator devices set throughout the warehouse and UWB tags that workers wear. The system manages location data (coordinates) of products received to navigate workers effortlessly to where a specific product is stocked. With this technology, logistics centers can now run a floating inventory location system that otherwise would pose challenges for receiving/shipping procedures.

Targeting primarily the construction materials market and customers with large logistics centers to stock equipment, raw materials and products in flat configuration or in free location, SATO aims to install the system in five locations in Japan this fiscal year (ending March 2016).

How Visual Warehouse™ solves issues at logistics centers

Difficulty managing location of large-sized goods

Manages inventory using coordinates of where goods are placed and by attaching communication tags (in UWB: Ultra Wide Band*1) to workers or forklifts to receive location data. Without the need to attach tags to each and every item, the system helps reduce cost.

Time required to search for items

An Apple iPod Touch that the worker carries displays the shortest route to a specific item. The system tells the worker his present location, destination, distance and product information by voice to significantly reduce time to search for items.

Varied work speed depending on worker experience level

Non-reliant of worker experience, the system speeds the work of less-experienced workers with its route navigation feature. iPod Touch allows for easy operation, and by wearing it, it frees the worker’s hands for greater productivity during work and in motion.

Difficulty to manage current work status

Highly accurate location information allows real-time management of work progress. Managers can easily and instantly find workers on a 3D map displayed on a PC screen.

Difficulty of identifying bottlenecks

An analysis report on traffic flow shows where problems lie. By using the bundled simulation program, operators can seek further improvement in their logistics operations.

  • *1A method of obtaining highly precise positioning data within an error margin from 30 cm to 1 m, using Ubisense UWB (Ultra Wide Band) waves and a 2-point positioning system.
  • *2Product and company names mentioned in this document are all trademarks or registered trademarks of each company. Apple, the Apple logo and iPod Touch are trademarks of Apple Inc. registered in the U.S. and other countries.


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