Mobile Automated Data Collection Increases Warehouse Efficiency

Meagan Douglas
Tue, Nov 5, 2013

The manufacturing and distribution industries are rapidly changing as we recover from the Great Recession. Continued increases in online purchasing result in a need for more local distribution centers and better inventory control. Organizations also see a need for greater automation and technology as they work to keep up with growing customer demands.

Storage and inventory are tracked by minutes instead of days, and changes in inventory should be directly updated throughout ERP in real time. Organizations should be able to track multiple parts of a single order from the supply side to the sales side, and throughout the pick, pack and ship processes for each order.

With new technologies, organizations have more control than ever before to ensure that orders ship quickly and completely. In a recent survey of warehouse IT and operational personnel conducted by Motorola, 70 percent said they plan to have more automated processes in the next five years and 66 percent intend to equip more staff with technology in that same time.

Mobile Barcode Scanning Improves Efficiency
Solutions such as mobile barcode scanners can help improve inventory tracking, allowing merchandise to be scanned the moment it's shelved as inventory and as soon as it is picked up for an order. In the Motorola survey, 67 percent of respondents said they plan to track inventory with mobile devices to create real-time cycle counts.

Real-time tracking of merchandise also allows users to quickly correct errors that occur in-house. Shop floor supervisors will have an easier time tracking down missing lines on an order and identifying slow areas within the warehouse's order-shipping process. Mobile barcode scanning can also assist in locating lost orders that may have shipping restrictions, helping to prevent fines related to trade laws or hazardous materials.

Analyze Operational Changes Quicker With Real-Time Data
Mobile data collection not only increases the frequency at which data is collected but also its efficiency and accuracy. With multiple workers recording barcode data, a single error is not propagated over and over again. It is also much easier to establish weak links in the system, whether they're employee-based or related to process.

The success of new training, picking, packing and other warehouse operations can be analyzed much faster. Mobile barcode scanners for every employee performing a certain job can also paint a more accurate picture of production. Data on which employees perform their work the fastest and the slowest can be used for other aspects of the organization's hiring and training practices in the future.

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