Automated Data Collection has Many Benefits in the E-commerce Age

Dustin Caudell
Fri, Nov 8, 2013

E-commerce is forcing distribution centers to ramp up their efficiency, which requires better data collection throughout the warehouse. In order to keep select-to-ship times down and reduce slow zones in the warehouse, companies are turning to technology to keep up with the blazing pace of e-commerce demands.

Automatic Data Collection That Integrates With Conveying and Sorting Systems
While material handling systems were originally brought on board to assist with moving and lifting large items, they are now utilized across the warehouse. Conveyors and sorters can read barcodes on small toted material on its way to be shipped and route material to multiple locations from a single diverting point. With the right data collection and barcode scanner software these sorting scans can also provide detailed statistics on the flow of material through the warehouse.

"I see the industry, with e-commerce and parcel handling, going toward lots of smaller, single-line orders," Mitch Johnson, director of systems development for Hytrol told Logistics Management Magazine. "It's changing the way we think about sortation. We used to think about sorting faster and in higher quantities. Now, it's better to be able to sort smaller things and greater numbers of orders."

The new technology requires less physical labor - reducing injuries and costs - and can keep pace with increased orders. In addition to conveyors that are more intelligent and versatile, warehouses should also utilize barcode scanning software that can track material from the backend to the frontend of the warehouse, and throughout the internal distribution process. Automated data collection software should also sync with existing ERP systems so managers receive real-time updates on warehouse flow stats.

Smart Inventory Control Systems Reduce Overstock
E-commerce also increases the need for inventory control as materials spend less time on the racks and stock is replaced more frequently. Inventory control software can also help warehouses keep pace with e-commerce demands by producing more accurate inventory metrics. The ability to track inventory in real-time means managers can plan better for future orders and reduce rack space devoted to overstock.

E-commerce is pushing distributors toward smarter, smaller warehouses in more locations. These facilities must take advantage of new data collection and barcode scanner software that can provide the amounts of data and information about internal warehouse flow that managers need to keep things moving in the age of e-commerce.

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