Tuesday, 16 January 2018 08:26

Plugging the warehouse productivity drain

From the back of the warehouse to the retail floor, productivity has never been more important. Accurate and timely order picking in a warehouse is critical to ensuring delivery of the right products, at the right time, to the right customer. The volume of orders a warehouse can handle is dependent on the efficiency, accuracy and productivity of the order picker.

Most warehouses have transitioned from paper-based to electronic systems, trading paper forms for the instant delivery and collection of information at the point of task via wireless handheld mobile computers. Enterprises have already extracted the maximum available efficiency increases available through today’s handheld mobile computers, but new operational challenges require warehouses to seek new ways to further increase productivity and accuracy.

Online sales and home delivery are creating a major increase in order volume and SKUs. Expedited service has become the norm, requiring orders to be fulfilled faster. Additionally, changing worker demographics add a new challenge – today’s workforce wants a familiar easy-to-use touch application interface instead of the traditional terminal emulation “green screen” application interface between workers and the Warehouse Management System (WMS).

With warehouses already reaping the maximum benefits out of their mobility solutions, what can warehouse managers do to obtain the needed increase in productivity?

The hidden productivity drain can be plugged by making devices more ergonomic, more quickly maintained, less likely to cause fatigue, and less likely to result in errors.

Improvements to device design leads to real results. After intensive investigation and trials Zebra’s own Innovation and Design team has been able to create a device (the TC8000) that increases productivity by 14 per cent. How?

Zebra minimised the ‘tilt and verify’ motion required to interact with the device. While it might seem that the time users spend tilting the device is inconsequential to warehouse operations, as testing revealed, nothing could be further from the truth. The new design means a 55% reduction in wrist motion and a 15% reduction in muscle effort. While it only takes just over a second to tilt the device up to see the screen and back down to scan, when multiplied by the number of picks per day, times the number of workers in the warehouse — and times the number of warehouses for those businesses with multiple locations — the result can be millions of wasted motions every week and a shocking time drain can be measured in months and years’ worth of lost time.

Zebra’s latest device is also 33 per cent lighter to minimise fatigue. And, unprecedented by a device manufacturer, Zebra integrated a tool that allows users to transform legacy Terminal Emulation (TE) “green screens” into elegant, graphics-based All-touch TE screens that are not only highly intuitive, but also dramatically reduce the number of interactions required to complete a task — no coding and no modifications to host applications are required.

Together these improvements generate approximately one hour saved per worker over an 8-hour day.

Find out how Zebra can help take warehouse productivity to places it’s never taken it before HERE.

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