Work smarter, not harder is the often-heard mantra for business, but many of us rarely take the time to step back and think, what technology can boost my operations? Your warehouse, field operations and business processes are not often thought of as the front line when it comes to business technology.
But, with consumers and business customers becoming more demanding, and margins squeezed by competition, smart operations technology may be the edge that delivers your competitive advantage.
Even today, it is still not unusual to see warehouse operatives conducting their business holding clipboards or pieces of paper – manually collecting operations data, such as stock counts. Once manual data collection task are complete, workers often travel across the warehouse to return to a fixed location terminal in the corner of the warehouse to input the data to excel or some other static data record. A slow and unproductive way to work that is not longer fit for the digital age.
Complacency or just too busy to step back and think, results in business operations maintaining inefficient and outdated practices with significant consequences. For instance, It has been found that 1 in 300 manual keystrokes produces an error. This is just a fact of life, humans make mistakes and under time pressure, as the modern warehouse is, that rate is probably much higher. So, what is the solution?
Mobile Auto-ID data capture technology is the answer – delivering accurate and efficient business operations. Commonly referred to as barcode technology, Auto-ID technology encompasses marking and tracking items using barcodes, direct part marking (DPM) or RFID smart labels. At its simplest, a total barcode system can cost from a few hundred pounds to thousands of pounds depending on your requirements. The key technologies consist of a scanner or mobile computer, label printer, labels and a software or database system for tracking items as they are processed.
Organisations have many reasons to invest in barcode systems and automate operations, one of the strongest drivers is mobility. Over the last 10 years, we have seen mobile working enabled by technology innovations such as wireless networking, cloud computing and the development of mobile battery technology – that can last an entire shift. Working with wireless mobile computers that connect to a cloud-based warehouse management system (WMS) coupled with a mobile printer enables mobile workers to work in all areas of business operations inside and outside the 4 walls whilst communicating and processing requests – boosting productivity via:
1. Improved Communication – Work anywhere around the warehouse and out in the field with professional-grade mobile computers such as the Zebra TC72. Incorporating industrial quality barcode scanning and widely available with the familiar Android platform, mobile computers improve communication between workers and management. With features such as push to talk (PTT) technology for voice communication and real-time access to your business systems such as WMS apps, email, and work documents, your improved communication enables faster and more accurate operations delivering higher productivity.
2. Greater Efficiency – Transforming your operations with a mobile barcoding strategy delivers greater efficiency through improved accuracy and faster work-flow processes. Providing mobile computers to your team enables them to collect data via barcodes or RFID quickly during operational tasks such as goods in, stock takes, stock moves and dispatch. Using barcodes and mobile devices around the warehouse means fewer return trips to central processing stations, improved problem resolutions on the move and access to real-time data for problem-solving and ad-hoc process changes resulting in more throughput per shift.
3. Reduced Costs – Going mobile with your warehouse or factory delivers cost savings through reduced stock in hand, freeing up working capital and better space utilisation in your warehouse. Coupled with a stock control system or WMS, automated data collection via mobile devices enables faster processing and more sophisticated operational workflows which is essential for the omnichannel strategies of fulfilment centres and the increasing number of small-item picking and increased returns handling that modern warehouses have to process.
4. Improved customer satisfaction – Get orders out faster, reduce inaccuracies and process refunds to your customer’s satisfaction with a wireless mobile barcoding system. Business customers or consumers, your customer demands, and expectations of good services are higher than ever and operations productivity impacts satisfaction more than ever.
5. Real-time Visibility – Make decisions and operate with information immediately available to you made possible with wireless mobile computers. You may be working within the 4 walls, such as a warehouse or retail environment or maybe externally such as utility operators or emergency workers, wherever you work having access to the most up to date information on your operations enables you to respond quickly to situations and collaborate in real-time.
We have covered the 5 key areas where mobile working can boost productivity and operations across several industry sectors. Productivity is the key driver for the adoption of mobile barcoding technology, but it is not the only reason. Your operations may also benefit from improved health and safety, security and employee wellbeing too. The benefits of adopting a mobile-first strategy are numerous and most of all prepares your operations for the future and the challenges it may bring.
GSM Barcoding are leaders in the Auto-ID barcoding industry and have over 40 years’ experience in helping organisations in the private and public sector improve their operations. Our team can help advise you on the latest software, hardware and consumable requirements. Speak to one of our team today and see if we can help you to achieve your productivity goals.