• Barcoding
  • Data Collection
  • Industry 4.0 / IIoT

5 Quick Mobile Data Collection Tips: A Return to Best Practice Basics

Written by Robert Brice
November 7, 2017

Don't neglect mobile data collection best practices as you strive to deploy new and innovative technologies.

Stakeholders in the distribution, fulfillment, inventory management and logistics sectors have been facing an onslaught of disruption lately.

Smartphones and tablets have arrived on the scene to disrupt traditional workflows and create new questions about how to balance safety with convenience. The industrial internet of things (IIoT) is creating excitement around new opportunities for automation and data visibility. Augmented reality is leaving many experts with a realistic vision for a near future that looks a lot like science fiction.

If you haven’t already introduced mobile data collection, there are several warning signs you may need to.

If you are already using mobile data collection, it wouldn’t be surprising if a few longstanding best practices slip through the cracks as organizations deploy new technologies or advance into pilot projects. Excitement is understandable, but don’t let the hype distract you from core capabilities that are key for safe and effective mobile data collection. Here are five mobile data collection tips that will help you keep your best practices in place through technological innovation and disruption:

1. Keep ERP Integration at the Top of Mind

Don’t let hype distract you from core capabilities that are key for safe and effective mobile data collection.

Better ways to manage and gather data are only useful if that information ends up getting to the people who need to take action on what they learn. ERP integration is a key capability for any mobile data collection program, and it is only becoming more important as emerging technologies and methodologies open up new opportunities for data collection and communication. If your integration systems aren’t in a good place, you’re likely going to run into some roadblocks as you try to deploy new solutions.

2. Empower Users to Collect Data Where the Work is Performed

If a worker has to go to a remote location to unload a shipment, make sure your data collection workflows can extend to that destination. Asking an employee to step out to use a paper-based process for the occasional workload is going to derail operations quickly. Extending mobile data collection to remote locations and field services workers is invaluable and increasingly necessary.

3. Make Regular Safety Training a Priority

One of the understandable concerns associated with any form of mobile device use in the warehouse is that employees will get distracted and not notice safety risks as they emerge. This problem only becomes more prevalent as workers get comfortable with technology and start using it in routine, casual ways. Regular safety training is critical to reinforce correct device use practices and make sure workers understand how to protect themselves at all times.

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4. Don’t Neglect Barcode Label Printing

The ability to easily print out custom, RFID-enabled barcodes is essential as employees work to properly label and track items across the supply chain. Strategically placing barcode label printers so workers can easily roll out new barcodes and attach them to goods can go a long way in improving efficiency and reducing error. Barcode labels may seem so familiar that the processes around sustaining the labeling system don’t get much thought. This can lead to problems down the line as shipping volumes and workflow speed increase with new technology. Don’t let barcode label printing slip through the cracks.

5. Keep Small Efficiency Gains in Mind

For a long time, the move to lean operations in the supply chain sector led many organizations to establish a culture of consistently making small, iterative efficiency improvements. With emerging technologies allowing for major gains, these subtler steps forward may be forgotten. However, any opportunity to improve can pay off, and businesses that remember to constantly analyze their mobile data collection processes stand to gain an edge through consistent, sustainable gains.

Of course, having the right underlying technology in place is critical in executing on any of these best practices. RFgen can help you out here, as we offer a full portfolio of mobile data collection and ERP integration software solutions built specifically for digital supply chain optimization.