Why Go Wireless?

It wouldnít be unreasonable for management to expect an increase in productivity and a reduction in expenses, while at the same time, your customers expect 100% order accuracy and quick order fulfillment.

Reducing your labor costs will be the key, because picking and packing are two of the most labor intensive and costly jobs in your warehouse. This is especially true if you're picking and packing without the help of automation. In a typical paper-based operation, at each step, employees record items, quantities, and locations on paper. Manual picking and packing is outdated and responsible for most of the errors, lost efficiency, and expense. Replacing paper-based operations with wireless automation has the potential to improve every area of the warehouse.

1. Why Wireless?

While there may be other ways to reduce errors, expenses, and inefficiency, warehouse automation is usually the best solution.

You can expect improvements in productivity when you substitute technology for error-prone human activities such as order processing, inventory management, or order picking. Data is transmitted from the warehouse floor directly to your computer database. The process of manually counting, recording, and entering information into the system is eliminated. The data from hand-held wireless scanners gives you real-time inventory information.

Data flows continuously to employees in the warehouse, eliminating gaps in productivity from wasteful trips to retrieve paper-based instructions. Itís also likely that two scanner-enabled pickers could do the same work as three paper-based pickers. Thatís a 50% increase in productivity. Picking accuracy will improve as well, leading to greater customer satisfaction. Making customers happier and avoiding costly mistakes will benefit your bottom line.

2. Wireless Starts With A Barcode.

Barcodes are at the core of the modern warehouse or distribution center. Barcodes identify incoming stock, inventory that is picked to fill orders, inventory shipped out, and your warehouse inventory when it is counted during cycle counts or annual physical counts. The best way to utilize barcodes and the information they contain is with RF technology.

Wireless barcode scanners capture real-time data to help you manage warehouse operations, make inventory & financial decisions, and inform customer service systems. They have become the standard for the modern warehouse. Their simplicity and efficiency let your warehouse employees access your database directly from the point of activity.

Wireless RF networks are basic and simple. They consist of a wireless barcode scanner, one or more access points, and a server with your database application. The size and configuration of your warehouse will determine how many access points you need and their placement. When the access points are in place, the wireless barcodes scanners are the link between the warehouse employee and the computer database.

3. Benefits

RF wireless systems have become so common because business owners recognize that the gains in productivity and accuracy usually far outweigh the costs. Systems have become much more affordable and the software programs are more user-friendly. Here are some areas in which you can expect to make gains:

Increased Operational Efficiency

With an efficient paperless wireless system, you have the ability to track items from when they are received until they are shipped to the customer. You can track inventory levels, strategically change warehouse placement, monitor employee performance, and even track usage of shipping materials. Youíll be prepared to meet demand during your busiest periods.

More Efficient Storage Capacity/More Flexibility to Store Inventory

RF wireless technology, combined with a warehouse management system lets you use your warehouse storage space more efficiently. Your picking inventory can be placed where itís easiest to access, while storage inventory can be placed based on the individual space requirement of each product. Youíll utilize valuable warehouse space better and enjoy greater storage capacity. With an accurate inventory youíll be able to keep less overstock or slow-moving inventory.

Fewer Warehouse Employees (Permanent and Seasonal)

With the greater efficiency of computerized data capture, youíll be able to reduce the number of employees in the warehouse. Theyíll be more productive and get more done with fewer people. Accurate, easy to navigate pick lists will allow new or seasonal employees to be more productive sooner.

Train New Employees Quicker

Software-directed RF barcode scanners will help you train new employees quickly. Theyíll be productive sooner as the system guides them efficiently through the warehouse. Training seasonal or temporary peak-demand workers will also be quick and easy.

Faster and More Accurate Data Entry

Computerized data capture will eliminate the slow and error-prone process of hand-recorded data entry. Barcode scanning is thousands of times more accurate and hundreds of times more efficient than recording by hand. Youíll achieve greater speed, and virtually eliminate data entry mistakes.

Annual Inventory Count

Counting inventory annually will be less costly and error-prone. Barcode scanners make identifying and counting inventory a quicker, easier process. Youíll return to productivity sooner, and with a more accurate inventory.

Quicker and More Accurate Cycle Counts

Cycle counting becomes easier and inventory levels become more accurate with a wireless RF barcode system. By eliminating errors and inaccuracies, youíll also be able to reduce safety stock levels.

Quicker Error Correction

The real-time feedback from an efficient warehouse management system allows your inventory receiving staff to identify, confirm, and investigate problems quickly. Problems, such as a shortage or over-shipment can be identified, flagged, and resolved before incorrect items or quantities make their way into your warehouse inventory.

Reduce Non-Value-Added Travel Time by Warehouse Personnel

Time is money, and wasted employee travel in the warehouse can be expensive. A RF-enabled warehouse management system can direct employees on the most efficient put-away or pick path through the warehouse.

Warehouse Scenarios


An RF-enabled warehouse management system is one improvement almost universally recognized as a good investment. Here are some specific examples of warehouse operations where RF can be utilized:

Receiving

Most businesses receive products or shipments. These range from raw materials for manufacturing, to components for assembly, to products ready for a retail shelf. In each case, there is a common receiving process: confirmation that the received items are correct, placing items in their correct warehouse location, entering information into the database, and then paying for the items. Utilizing RF in this environment provides significant advantages over a paper-based tracking system.

An employee with a RF barcode scanner receives a carton by scanning the barcode, then sending the purchase order number, parts, and quantities to the database, where the item is logged in as received. An instant comparison is made between the ordered quantity and the received quantity. If a discrepancy exists or items are damaged, the issue can be addressed immediately. This sequence usually takes just seconds, immediately after receiving the carton in the warehouse. The items in the shipping container can then be processed quickly and sent on their storage locations.

Item Putaway

With RF barcode scanners youíll see a large increase in the number of items put-away per hour. The employee is directed to the correct aisle, row, shelf, and bin.

Inventory Management

After the received items are placed on the shelf, they become part of your inventory. One of the burdens of carrying inventory is taking an annual physical count. It can be expensive in terms of lost business if you shut down or freeze operations, and expensive if your employees come in after hours or on weekends and you have to pay overtime. Employees who have participated in the counts before will probably dread it. Itís also possible that human error and inattention can introduce as many inaccuracies as you identify during the count. Writing and keeping track of your data on paper is inefficient and inaccurate.

In direct contrast, an RF-enabled warehouse management system is both highly accurate and efficient. Annual inventory counting can be performed easier, faster, and nearly without human error. You scan the barcode on the bin, then either scan each item in the bin or manually count them and enter the data. Discrepancies can be quickly identified and authorized personnel can make adjustments to the database.

Another benefit of a real-time RF barcode scanning system is the ability to conduct an ongoing inventory or cycle count. Because your computer database is adjusted continuously, itís possible to count a portion of your inventory during your normal workday, without affecting the entire operation. You can decide to count a section of your warehouse, or you may decide to count items based on their high value or high-velocity sales.

The system gives you the flexibility to decide what is best for your operation. Items may be counted only once a year or several times a year, based on your business needs. The ongoing counting of inventory leads to greater accuracy and can eliminate the need for a costly shutdown for an annual inventory count.

Among the benefits of accurate inventory is that customers receive their orders when they expect them. Your sales and customer service people can be confident that the orders they take or the sales they make can be filled. They donít have to call the warehouse or personally check items before confirming an order.

Picking And Order Fulfillment

A RF directed scanner increases both picking speed and accuracy. The warehouse management software directs the employee on the most efficient route through the warehouse. It eliminates wasted travel time. It also confirms the correct location and the correct item.

Additional programs are available to let your employees pick multiple orders simultaneously. Orders and item locations are organized, and employees are directed in which bin to place the picked items. This has proven to be a tremendous time saver for many businesses.

Shipping

Greater warehouse volume and throughput generally precedes an increase in shipping problems. Problems also occur with an increase in UPC codes or serial numbers that must be recorded or copied during the receiving or shipping processes. A RF barcode system requires only a simple scan for an accurate record of the item.

Conclusion

Access to accurate real-time data means greater productivity. Critical decisions can be made quicker and at the point of activity, by an authorized employee. Youíll be able to do more, do it quickly, and do it without adding employees. The cost is relatively low and the payoff can be extremely high.

Contact us today for more information or to set up a free live demonstration of the advantages and capability of the Barcoders.com warehouse management solution.

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