Warehouse Optimization Using Technology
Using technology to increase productivity and streamline operations is nothing new. But with the increase in distribution centers and a lack of labor to meet the demand, warehouse managers are looking to optimize their workflows by using innovative solutions to become leaner and more efficient while reducing errors.
Common problems that lead to inefficiencies include inventory placement and tracking, stocking and picking optimization and device availability.
5 Tips for Optimizing & Streamlining Your Warehouse
1. Leverage the Power of a WMS
Warehouse Management Systems(WMS) provide a comprehensive tool for managing material handling equipment, collecting and storing data and tracking inventory flow from arrival to shipping. Combining RFID and barcode scanning with a WMS significantly automates manual entry and reduces errors, as well as the time employees spend on manual processes.
Initial implementation can be cumbersome, but once a WMS is in place, the time and cost savings are invaluable. Most WMS can house all details of a warehouse’s operations, giving complete visibility to managers of everything from inventory status to warehouse layout to employee effectiveness. The data captured can be reported for more accurate forecasting and business decision-making.
2. Upgrade to Modern, Innovative Equipment
The equipment your company uses makes a significant difference in how your warehouse performs. Consider the current performance and age of that equipment. Is it still performing to specification? Are employees using that equipment experiencing any issues? Does that equipment still provide business value?
If you have any doubts about your equipment in these areas, it may be time to upgrade or even outright replace them. The advantages of upgrading include better security (which should always be a top priority), faster performance, better ergonomics for warehouse employees, as well as better compatibility with operating systems that allow certain functions to be done on mobile devices. Wearables are a great example of an equipment upgrade that exemplifies warehouse optimization using technology.
Go Deeper with TRG: Watch this in-depth virtual panel discussion on ways to address roadblocks such as stakeholder resistance, device migration and user training to seamlessly modernize your warehouse.
3. Stay Connected
It may seem like a no-brainer, but pay attention to wireless connectivity. Using mobile digital products and services only works if the connectivity within your facility is strong. As employees move around racking and your warehouse configuration changes, it could disrupt connectivity, which in turn will affect all Internet-based tools and devices. This can hit productivity hard.
Start with a site survey to determine the effectiveness of your wireless network. These provide heat maps of wireless connectivity and pinpoint weak spots, holes and interference. Make sure to incorporate ongoing assessments, particularly if new equipment, racking or reconfigurations come into play.
4. Manage Mobile Assets Through Automated Lockers
Warehouses invest a ton of money in equipment like scanners, mobile devices and radios. However, sometimes things happen and the technology goes missing or isn’t charged in time for the start of a shift. Having an automated locker system in place protects those investments and keeps them in the hands of employees when they need them.
Lockers such as the ones sold by Apex can help warehouses get control of their assets by requiring employees to return devices to a dedicated location and plug them in for charging. These lockers are intelligent digital devices in their own right, where employees check in/out the equipment, giving managers full visibility of assets for each individual who works in the warehouse. The typical ROI on these solutions is less than a year.
Pairing these types of lockers with a platform like a platform like ServiceHub by TRG gives warehouses complete information on the entire scope ofdeployment. Learnhow many devices are onsite, what’s in a repair facility, and what’s due for an upgrade. ServiceHub provides insight reports detailing service call logs, history and status, giving full transparency and awareness of the entire hardware fleet and repair operations.
Warehouse Optimization in Action: Learn how TRG boosted efficiency in a warehouse operating 24/7 through device improvements and improved WiFi Connectivity.
5. Upgrade to the Next Generation of Your Equipment
Companies often look to upgrade their handheld or vehicle-mounted computers when it nears end-of-service. This is an excellent time to consider not just an upgrade, but a change in operations overall. When a device is nearing its end, it’s a good opportunity to consider warehouse optimization using technology like robots, voice and RFID.
Incorporating RFID technology alongside barcoding is another huge time-saver. RFID tags don’t need to be seen in order to be scanned, so consider that a win for warehouses with a large inventory to sort through. Similarly, employees can be equipped with RFID tagged bracelets or other wearables and their movements can be tracked and analyzed to find efficiency holes (like a poor warehouse setup creating difficulty moving around) or transparency for accountability.
RFID also improves accuracy, giving warehouse managers the ability to track inventory in their WMS and ensure correct deliveries. Robots, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or drones can be equipped with RFID scanners and can scan up to 200 tags at once to ramp up productivity.
Voice-directing systems are another innovative solution that can optimize warehouse processes. Warehousing staff can focus on picking with both hands while communicating information to a WMS through a hands-free headset or wearable device. The WMS can then give staff members instructions for next steps. All of the data gathered from these technologies can be housed in the WMS for easy analysis and management.
Robots are the hot ticket item these days, with the ability to automate warehouse operations such as picking, sorting, and scanning. Having a fleet of robots on hand helps mitigate employee safety risks, reduce errors, speed up processes and deliver significant long-term cost savings. Robotic equipment often uses artificial intelligence (AI) for continuous machine learning, finding the path of least resistance and real-time optimization.
Pricing has become much more affordable, and user interfaces are simpler than they were several years ago, making robotics an achievable solution for warehouse optimization using technology. Taking advantage of mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) options available from some third-party suppliers can make for an even more affordable solution.
If you’d like to learn more about these options for optimization, don’t hesitate to contact us. . TRG has helped countless companies across the globe make improvements for the better, and we’re here to help you, too.
TRG is a global managed solutions provider focused on mobility, point of sale and payments. With facilities across the United States, Canada and Europe, we provide the most comprehensive suite of lifecycle management services – from warehouse to boardroom and deployment to retirement. Our mission is to Make Technology Simple, helping customers accelerate projects, drive application success, improve employee/customer experience and maximize ROI. We’re relentless in our drive to find innovative, effective ways to enhance customer operations and challenge conventional thinking along the way. Learn more about why The Difference Is Us at www.trgsolutions.com.