Warehouse Logistics – Fancy a Game?

Digitization is considered a key driver for developments in warehouse logistics. More and more processes are being controlled by special software. So where do people fit in? Anyone who wants to keep pace in the warehouse needs a lot of new know-how. The DEKRA Akademie is breaking new ground in its training programs with digital learning systems.

Trucker Ingo accompanies the real employee through the individual work steps in the warehouse. Photo: Shutterstock – Fotosmapler / Fraunhofer IML

Warehouse logistics is marching into the future with giant strides. It may still be a while before artificial intelligence (AI) is in command of robots, drones, and driverless transport systems everywhere. But there’s no way around digitization itself. Today, many warehouse logistics processes are already controlled by highly sophisticated digital systems. Therefore, it’s not only the demands on warehouse logistics specialists and warehouse technicians that are growing in this working environment.

Less qualified people entrusted with simple tasks in packing and picking also need additional know-how. So it’s logical that the training and qualification of warehouse employees must take this development into account. That’s why Katrin Haupt, Managing Director of DEKRA Akademie, and Logistics Master Lars Drees, the product developer responsible for the Warehouse Logistics division at DEKRA Service Division Training, are focusing on the consistent use of digital learning systems at DEKRA Akademie locations.

Working like the pros at training camp – with EPG’s warehouse management system

When topics such as incoming goods, storage, and commissioning are on the syllabus of training sessions at training camp or the virtual warehouse, participants work on the tasks at hand using the same tools and methods as professionals in real working life. DEKRA relies on the LFS warehouse management system from its cooperation partner EPG (Ehrhardt Partner Group) in Boppard-Buchholz, Rhineland-Palatinate, which is also the first choice for logistics companies such as DHL, Fiege, Hellmann, and Simon Hegele.

“The LFS is designed as warehouse management system for complex logistics processes as well as for simple applications,” explains Jens Heinrich, Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at EPG. In fact, the LFS is basically the Rolls Royce of warehouse management, with plenty of forward-looking technology on board. “With the LFS, we have the opportunity to qualify our participants in a contemporary manner and, in doing so, map all logistics processes relevant to the examination required by the Chamber of Industry and Commerce,” says Lars Drees, describing the advantages for DEKRA.

The LFS controls the entire material flow. Driverless transport systems (AGVs) can also be integrated. Photo: EPG

“Acquiring skills in handling IT products improves our graduates’ chances of placement in the free economy,” logistics expert Drees explains. He sees digitization as an opportunity to break new ground in education and training. So why not design a game – a virtual game with VR glasses? This is exactly what the transfer project “VR training in logistics training measures for the low-skilled” (VilAG) of the Hybrid Services in Logistics Innovation Lab is all about. Completed in April 2020, it was jointly realized by DEKRA Akademie and the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics IML.

“Serious Games are fully developed digital games. They’re responsible for imparting knowledge to the user about a serious problem or process,” explains Project Manager Christoph Schlüter from Fraunhofer IML. However, the computer scientist reports that the use of VR technology in the education sector is still in its infancy. Accordingly, the crucial question to start was which core logistical processes would be suitable for VR application in the first place. In the end, the development team decided on incoming goods based on the groundwork done by Lars Drees.

Virtual games can be an enrichment of education and training

This is where Ingo comes into play. On the one hand, the name stands for the game’s title-giving abbreviation – incoming goods. On the other hand, Ingo is an important player in the game concept. His story is quickly told: Truck driver Ingo has placed his trailer at the ramp and wants to hurry home after unloading. However, things don’t go as quickly as Ingo would like – the warehouse employees are new and inexperienced. So Ingo stays on site and helps them with simple explanations of the processes. Which, for example, sounds like this: “I’ve just handed you the delivery bill. Please check whether all the data is correct.”

The game begins in an office next to the warehouse. From there, the employee, accompanied by the truck driver, moves through the warehouse to the point where goods are unloaded. There are a variety of tasks to be solved: Is the delivery authorization in place? Is the delivery date correct? Are individual packages or the load carrier damaged? If the warehouse worker finds a mistake, he reports it via digital smartphone to a supervisor, who decides the next steps.

And how is Ingo received in the field? “We played the game at the DEKRA Akademie in Dortmund with participants in a training course. The feedback was unanimously positive,” says Christoph Schlüter. From his point of view, a VR game cannot replace theoretical training – but it can be an enrichment for trainees. Katrin Haupt and Lars Drees are convinced that the DEKRA Akademie’s portfolio of warehouse logistics can be further developed with VR applications.

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