First results from field study: Picking made easy

Smart technologies can be used in the picking areas at companies to help employees to pick different articles. The “Cognitive Ergonomy” research clan has carried out a field study and is still looking for companies for further investigations.

The picking area is of particular interest to the scientists here due to the importance of manual activities that cannot be replaced by robots. Nevertheless, many different technical systems and technologies are already being used in order picking today to make processes more efficient. “It is exciting for us to see how the employees experience these technologies, how they deal with them and whether they experience them as real support,” says study director Dr. Veronika Kretschmer, who has already conducted numerous studies on the subject in the “Cognitive Ergonomics” research clan.

As part of an initial field study, the scientists were guests at Schnellecke Modul- und Lieferantenzentrum GmbH in Leipzig. This internationally active company offers a wide range of logistics services, including value-added logistics for the automotive industry. A survey of the employees investigated the general challenges posed by their workplaces as well as with the evaluation of the picking methods used. Of particular interest was the “Pick-by-Flag” picking method. The compartments are marked with coloured flags, each of which is assigned to a product type.

The aim of the investigations is to find out the main stress areas facing the employees and to derive specific improvement possibilities for optimization. Dr. Veronika Kretschmer: “Employees should neither be bored nor feel overstretched by what they do.”

Photo: Fraunhofer IML/Michael Neuhaus