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Drone to Track Picking Productivity

Tracking Productivity of Picking Process

In the warehouse environment, the picking process utilizes the most operations staffs. Almost 50% of the time incurred by the pickers are just travelling from locations to locations. How can we track the activities by these staffs? Are we able to reduce the unproductive actions, thereby increasing the number of pickings done within the same time span?

If the operations uses RF scanning, this forms the basis of retrieving the data from the system. This includes volume data as well as the timestamp data where you can start determining the throughput of the process.

However, assuming you want to drill down further into individual picker, and to check what are the non-productive activities he/she does during the picking activity, one way is to take a video clip of the operator during the picking operations.

This is what I normally do when performing a time motion study for the picker. I will follow him/her from a distance behind so as not to disturb the operations, and take a video clip of the picker completing a picking slip. During this recording process, I am unable to perform any other observations or tasks.

Thinking about this issue and then recollecting about the usage of drone in the warehousing environment (for stock take), I suddenly have an idea which combines both these 2 thoughts.

Are we able to use drone to record the video clip instead of manually doing it?

Are we able to allow the drone to track and follow the picker throughout the entire picking slip completion automatically?


Again, I went to the crowdsourcing site, Kickstarter to search for an answer.

Lo and behold, there is an ongoing drone campaign by Eyedea. The product PITTA is supposed to be an action camera/drone which can be autonomous and follow a person around.

This products fits all the requirements.

Specifications of Drone

  1. It is light (200gram).
  2. Pitta is small (1700mm).
  3. It auto-follows a person.
  4. Follow speed can be up to 30km/hr.
  5. It has a 32GB in-built memory (2 hours of video by 4K at 30Mbps).
  6. It can go up to 20m high above ground.

Seems like a perfect piece of equipment that is suitable to fulfill the need of taking video of the picker during operations.

The only shortfall now is the battery life. When the device is converted to a drone, the flight time can last for only 15 minutes. Either a replacement battery has to be fitted halfway through the video shot, or you limit the shot to within 15 minutes.

This seems like an idea for exploration, using drone to take video rather than manually doing that.

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