Commentary: Wearable Technology Set to Permeate the Supply Chain Workforce

Often viewed as consumer-facing, wearable technology also presents a huge B2B opportunity particularly when it comes to helping businesses and their workers accomplish tasks and drive success in manufacturing and the supply chain.

Seventy-five million wearables will permeate the workplace by 2020. And since this technology is often more mobile than laptops or tablets–and provides sensory features that other technologies do not–it can be uniquely optimized and implemented throughout the manufacturing and supply chain space to achieve better results.

Beyond Handheld

Technologies that are wearable remove the friction that exists with handheld devices, enabling an easier and more effective workflow. For instance, warehouse workers equipped with smart glasses can view pallet locations with valuable information in their line of vision, which they can use to pick items quickly and accurately. Additionally, given wearable technology is often easier to use, workers can more easily prevent picking errors, report breakdowns, or provide status updates to ensure production and warehouse operations move as efficiently as possible.

Beyond the factory floor and the warehouse, wearables also present huge benefits for businesses when it comes to field service. For manufacturers, the field service technician is often the face of the brand, interacting most frequently with customers. The level of service they provide directly impacts customer satisfaction and retention, as well as brand perception. Wearable technology empowers field service technicians to respond faster to customers with pressing needs with information most relevant to the task at hand.

For example, by equipping field service technicians with Google Glass, they can easily sync up with internal product maintenance teams to better diagnose malfunctions and ultimately resolve them more quickly. All of this is critical to delivering exceptional customer experiences–a key competitive differentiator. 

Granted, barriers in wearable technology do remain. Battery capacity, for example, is in need of improvement, and user interfaces and functionality are still being hammered out. However, as investments and innovations continue to grow, wearable technology is poised to be a fixture in the supply chain workforce of the future.

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