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FEATURE SWITCHES, DISPLAYS & UIS


Warehouse delivery s prime


Warehouse delivery in its prime


The e-paper screen’s ultra-efficiency and ability to use color makes it the ideal display choice for labelling in logistics warehouses, thus speedening the selection of stock. Hardy Kuo, field applications engineer, Pervasive Displays, explains


L


ogistics firms are under ever increasing pressure to pick stock faster and get it


to the customer – be it an online order from Amazon or a last-minute delivery of parts to an automotive manufacturer. According to Logistics Management’s


most recent survey into the state of warehouse and distribution centres, almost four fifths of warehouses have to rely on temporary staff, who are slower and less familiar with warehouse layout, to fulfil orders during peak times. And despite this causing a desire for more automation, 33 per cent of respondents say they need to increase the warehouse headcount. Nevertheless, this isn’t overly surprising given the average warehouse is 62,400 m2


and 10m tall, yet has just


182 people to cover both administrative and picking tasks. As every second counts, how does one make it easier for staff – especially temporary staff – to identify the precise location of an item more quickly? RFID technology is helping, enabling warehouses to better manage stock, recording both real-time stock levels and location. This allows logistics firms to have some flexibility in where stock goes – allowing for fluctuations in required stock levels – while still being able to direct staff to where it is stored.


Some warehouses even use an adaptation on GPS positioning to identify where a picker is in the warehouse and guide them to the right location. However, even though such systems can be accurate to the nearest metre, time is still spent confirming you are in the right location. Visual cues based on displays could be used to speed this vital step.


SIGNIFICANT POWER CONSTRAINTS ARE IN PLACE A more natural approach is to use RFID data to automatically update displays on warehouse shelves to alert pickers wearing a wireless identification technology on where to go – not just at eye height in the right location, but again when they reach the relevant shelf. Powering such displays would be needed and could be achieved via: 1. Hard wiring to fixed displays: this would add significant cost in retrofitting to existing warehouse shelves. Additionally, it would limit the ability to move tags to cope with changing stock levels for each product.


2. Battery: this would allow tags to be moved when required, and battery technologies are improving so systems can run for months between battery changes. But battery changes would still be needed, and each component would therefore need to be as efficient as possible to minimise battery changes, especially in higher locations.


3. Energy harvesting: RF energy harvesting is possible within the RFID band (865.5 - 868.5MHz) using the ISO 18000-6c standard, and this has been demonstrated to work even from a distance of several metres, if only providing a small charge.


HOW E-PAPER MEETS THESE CONSTRAINTS


E-paper requires very little power to update and needs no power to maintain an image, so is an efficient display technology for fixed images such as those required in warehouses. And with sizes ranging from 7.4 inches (active area 97.0 x 161.6mm) to 2.13 inches (active area 48.5 x 23.7mm), a-Si active matrix TFT displays would be ideally suited to such applications. Firstly, a full-screen refresh of an e-paper display requires less than ten per cent of the energy required by a TFT LCD of the same size. And unlike a back- lit TFT LCD screen, which requires energy to refresh its contents up to 50 times per second, the bi-stable characteristic of e-paper means it draws no power until the image is changed. Secondly, e-paper gives a clear display


“An e-paper display requires less than ten per cent of the energy required by a TFT LCD of the same size.”


Pervasive’s e-ink displays offer clarity, colour and help coordinate all of the necessary information


that can be read in ambient light, with a near-180 degree angle of view. Unlike back-lit LCDs, e-paper creates an image on its display using physical ink particles, which reflects in the same way as it would be from printed words on paper. Thirdly, these e-paper displays can also display colour, showing not just white and black, but red and (as of May 2019) yellow. This allows pickers to instantly spot the right item. And if two pickers are sent to similar locations at the same time, the colour can be adjusted. Conclusively, e-paper is growing into other sectors such as in parking meters. Its low-power demands, coupled with its high-volume manufacturing, makes it an ideal technology in helping logistics firms speed up the picking process and keep costs as low as possible.


Pervasive Displays www.pervasivedisplays.com


24 MARCH 2020 | ELECTRONICS / ELECTRONICS


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