Hands-Free Technology Boosts Worker Productivity
To keep up with demand, many organizations are pushing their employees to the limit. That means more work is being done in the same amount of time, but the process may not necessarily be changing. When this happens, the system can break down – resulting in an increase in order errors, misplaced inventory, worn out employees and unhappy customers. To circumvent this situation, you need to have a plan. That means partnering up with a solution provider who has strong expertise in warehouse, distribution center and/or manufacturing operations to help you navigate the challenges.
There are many ways to make small, incremental improvements to make a big contribution to the health of the business. The first step is implementing a bar coding system, so every item in inventory has a bar code that can be tracked. To scan and read the bar codes, of course, you’ll need handheld scanning devices or mobile computing devices. If you’re already using a bar coding strategy, here’s some additional info on ways to improve the speed at which your workforce moves through the picking, packing or inventory management process:
A recent VDC Research survey found 85% of users are moving toward wearables in an effort to increase worker productivity. With market pressures to increase productivity from existing operations, organizations are finding hands-free and multi-modal workflows to be an attractive solution from both a workflow efficiency standpoint as well as a way to satisfy the requirements of their workers. Industry leaders a paving the way by bringing us wearable technology that is:
- Designed for rugged environments
- Lightweight & comfortable
- Responsive scanning, touch screen interface
- Easy to use for highly mobile workers
In addition, the more you combine technologies, the more efficient workflow processes will get. The term multi-modal operations does just that. Components can include any combination of the following.
Industrial Mobile Computer
Handheld, forklift mounted or wearable, a mobile computer keeps the worker at the point of work, without having to take on the burden of traveling back and forth to a work desk or push a mobile cart with equipment on it just to follow work order instructions. Zebra’s Android-based WT6000 is a solid device for the job, with a compact size, rugged design, large all touch-screen display and IP65 sealing.
Wearable Ring Scanner
Paired with a handheld or wearable computer, an industrial ring scanner (corded or wireless) makes it even easier for workers to scan inventory items while still being truly hands free to pick parts, load and carry boxes, etc. Zebra’s RS6000 Bluetooth Ring Scanner is a high-performance image that will scan most any condition 1D or 2D bar code, with full-shift battery and durable silicone-rubberized mount and finger strap make it comfy and hygienic for multiple users.
A rugged headset can be added when voice-directed technology is available. This simplifies an application like picking because the worker can process more orders being truly hands-free, listening to the directives being given to them through the headset from the automated system, and not having to constantly look at a computer screen for inventory location, quantity, etc.
For inventory management applications, RFID can be a huge time saver for forklift drivers. The ability to track the movement of inventory takes the manual process out of the equation and ensures near 100% accuracy. It also keeps workers on the move without the hassle of having to get off the forklift to scan pallets.
Key Warehouse Applications
- Picking and Packing Operations. Wearable solutions account for an increase of nearly 15% in order accuracy.
- Receiving. Users with automated, hands-free process have better access to real-time information and inventory visibility, and increase put-away productivity.
- Inventory Management. Double digit productivity increases are what you get when the focus can remain on the point of work. Errors are also reduced by nearly 20%.
Looking for an opportunity to improve overall warehouse efficiency and reduce the amount of human error in your picking and packing applications? Contact us today to get started.