The family business Schmaus GmbH
is a specialist retail company for office supplies with its own logistics center and employs around 50 people. The company places particular emphasis on the competence of people with disabilities. This also reflects the use of employees with disabilities and specifically employees with hearing impairments. The commitment to professional participation or inclusion has already received multiple awards - including a. with the inclusion price for the economy and the inclusion price for the local social association of Saxony.
As part of the Work-by-Inclusion project, the work process for people with hearing impairment has been adapted to the inclusion at the company by means of modern work aids and further digitized.
Company comment on inclusion:
In cooperation with the local integration service, we successfully employed people with disabilities even before the project started. Since disturbing noises distract hearing employees during certain activities, we came up with the idea of employing employees with restrictions as a special skill. For example, we hired more people with hearing impairment because they are less influenced and distracted by noise and are therefore particularly suitable for use in order picking - where accuracy and concentration are required to avoid errors. Due to the good experience and strengths, we are increasingly deploying our employees with hearing impairments in other departments in the logistics area.
Of course, it is not easy to get good people due to the shortage of skilled workers. So it is an advantage for us that we have the experience and prerequisites to employ employees with handicaps.
Disability and functional restriction of employees:
In order to accelerate the processes and increase the efficiency in logistics u. a.
Technologies are increasingly being used in which picking takes place according to voice announcements, the so-called pick-by-voice principle. Pick-by-Voice is not suitable for employees with hearing loss or deafness, as they are only partially or not able to hear acoustic information, e.g. B. perception of speech or signals. Depending on the degree of hearing impairment and the type of environmental influences, audible information must therefore be amplified acoustically or changed so that it can be perceived optically or tactilely. Therefore, a solution was sought at Schmaus GmbH
using the Pick-by-Vision technology.
Workplace and work duties:
The new picking system in the warehouse is based on smart glasses for the visual display of information in the field of vision of the user. The data glasses consist of a spectacle frame with built-in or rack-mounted computer, a battery for power supply and a screen that can be placed over an articulated arm directly in front of the eye. In order to avoid a one-sided load by the weight of the technology (accumulator, display, computer), the accumulator is placed on the other side of the spectacle frame and compensates thus the load from computer and display. The glasses still weigh about 100 g and can therefore be worn well for a long time. Since the battery of the data glasses for an eight-hour working day is not sufficient, the employees carry a power bank with him, which can provide additional power to the glasses. The data glasses are connected via Bluetooth to a hand-held scanner, which is attached to the employee's belt with an elastic band. The data glasses are provided by the central computer with information about picking new orders via a WLAN network built up in the warehouse. The employee always gets as little information as possible in the display of the glasses. In most cases, pictograms are used to avoid text. Text can be processed worse by employees with deafness, as the grammar of the spoken language and the sign language differ fundamentally. Pictograms convey a one-to-one command and can be understood by all employees without or with a hearing impairment
At the beginning of order picking, the employee's location of the item is indicated by a numbering system on the display of the glasses. Based on the number and the layout of the warehouse, the employee knows the exact position of the items. Once he has arrived at the appropriate position, he scans with the handheld scanner a code on the shelf, which determines the current position. The system uses the code to check if the employee is on the right item. If a wrong code has been scanned, an error message appears in the screen, which indicates the order picker to the error. Only when the employee is in the correct position and has also acknowledged this, the amount of items to be collected on the display. Another scan with the handheld scanner confirms the correct amount of removed goods. Now the picker brings the items to the appropriate picking container, which is assigned to the order. The bins move automatically through a rail-like roller system through the warehouse and are located no more than eight meters from the responsible staff to avoid long running distances. The employee scans the code on the container and confirms that he has placed the item in the correct container. If the inspection by the system does not detect an error and the order is complete, a new order is displayed on the display of the glasses.
With the help of the data glasses, the order pickers can work more efficiently, because they do not have to carry any further pieces of paper and check off, but instead receive all the important information via the display of the data glasses. Due to the simple operation, the data glasses can be used equally by all employees for order picking.
In addition, the data glasses improve communication between employees. Short messages can be sent via the buttons on the glasses frame or the scanner. For example, employees with a hearing impairment also receive all information on social and internal events in the workplace.
Every permanent employee who is frequently employed in the picking process has a data frame adapted to him. In this context, the company works with an optician who determines the optical properties, such as diopter or eye dominance, of the employee. Based on the results, the data glasses are customized. This is important in order to be able to work with the glasses at the same time for a longer time without overstraining the eyes. Due to the special adaptation, however, a pair of glasses can not be passed on directly to another employee, for example when changing shifts.
For interns or employees who are rarely involved in picking, the company has universal eyewear models. These consist only of a wire frame, which can be worn over a normal glasses or without glasses. However, these models are less suitable for employees with their own glasses, especially for longer working hours.
Important appointments, such as training sessions or process changes, are accompanied by a sign language interpreter to optimally involve employees with deafness. He can be requested up to 24 hours before the planned appointment with the responsible integration specialist service. As more and more people with hearing loss were employed, the company also supports the national interpreter center with a local colleague seminar. As part of the seminar, the employees were a. informed about the sign language and forms of communication. In addition, mixed groups worked together for several days. This enabled the listener to better understand colleagues with hearing loss - some even learned a few gestures.
The Integrationsfachdienst also helped the employees to actively participate in the development process of the project and to submit suggestions for improvement.
Occupational health and safety:
In an emergency, such as a fire, a corresponding alarm or distress signal is displayed in the display of the data glasses. The employee with deafness or deafness receives the necessary information for evacuation. Since technical errors can not be ruled out in such cases, each of these employees also has an assigned evacuation helper.
Assistive devices used:
Visual Computer Displays and Accessories (Data Glasses)
Promotion and participation:
The research project Work-by-Inclusion was funded by the Equalization Fund for supra-regional projects for the participation of people with severe disability in working life by the Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs. The project partners were the Chair of Conveyor Technology, Material Flow and Logistics (fml) of the Technical University of Munich, the software company CIM GmbH
and as initiator the Schmaus GmbH
. The placement and consultation of the employees was carried out by the Integrationsfachdienst Chemnitz. The company received an integration grant from the employment agency for the recruitment and training of employees with hearing loss.