Warehouses and manufacturing plants are always under pressure to maximize efficiency and minimize costs, but today’s labor shortages, cost issues, and fulfillment demands are making it tougher than ever before.
However, many warehouses and plants can easily make some major efficiency and cost gains by looking in the right places, and that includes processes that are often taken for granted or overlooked.
A good example is any process where you’re doing data capture, whether it’s through barcode scanning or by manually entering data from paper forms or other documents.
Normally, if we’re using barcode labels and scanners to manage inventory, pick and pack orders, and track shipments or work-in-process, we might think we’ve already automated the streamlined the process.
If we’re dealing with printed documents or other paperwork, especially from third parties, it can seem like there’s no other option than to manually re-enter the data we need from those documents so we can get that information into our systems.
But that’s where many warehouses and manufacturing plants are missing out on some easy efficiency and productivity gains. Here are five ways that new advances in barcode scanning and imaging technology are enabling a much faster, less labor-intensive and less costly way to get things done.
Let’s start by taking a look at barcode scanning, where we might need to scan a number of different barcode labels on a pallet or even on a single product or shipping box in order to track and manage inventory, inbound items in receiving, or outbound shipments.
Instead of having to scan all of those barcodes individually, one by one, newer barcode scanners such as Zebra’s 3600 Series Ultra-Rugged Scanners have built-in multi-scan capabilities that allow you to scan up to 20 barcodes with single trigger pull. You can use your scanner like a “wand” and simply move it across the face of a pallet or wave it around different sides of a box, and all the barcodes you need to scan are captured flawlessly.
Each time you use this multi-code functionality, you can shave seconds or minutes off typical scanning processes, and when you’re dealing with hundreds or thousands of inventory items, assets or shipments, it adds up quickly to a lot of time and effort saved.
Form Field and Signature Capture
Another big advantage of Zebra’s new scanners and imaging technology is that you can use it to automatically read and capture data from form fields and even scan signatures from shipping documents or other paperwork. Instead of having to manually enter or re-enter that data into your systems, Zebra’s devices can capture and parse it directly from documents and even selectively scan and transmit data based on your preferred targets and configuration.
This way, you can choose what you want to scan and what you want to ignore, and it reliably and instantaneously captures that information and gets it into your warehouse management, ERP or other business systems. Since you can also use the same capabilities to capture images of signatures, it’s also a great way for importing signature verifications into your systems as well.
Yet another way to boost efficiency and reduce time and labor is with scanning inventory or assets from longer ranges. In many warehouses, for example, palleted goods or inventory may be located high on warehouse shelves, and when it’s time to pick and verify individual items or entire pallets, that can mean having to use a ladder to get up high or use a forklift to bring down the pallet so you can scan the right barcodes.
However, Zebra’s latest industrial barcode scanners can eliminate these steps by allowing you to scan barcodes from as far away as 70 feet, even through shrink wrap. This represents a 30% increase in scanning range compared to previous devices, and it’s helpful for any process that can benefit from not having to get within close range of barcodes in order to capture them. It’s also great for worker safety because it helps minimize some of the ladder use and forklift traffic in the warehouse.
To round out some of the easy wins you can get from newer scanning technology, another big help comes from improvements to battery capacity and performance.
For example, Zebra’s 3600 Series Ultra-Rugged Scanners have 50% more battery capacity than other devices on the market, so you can get 50% more scans per charge. That means fewer trips to a charging station and fewer interruptions to your scanning processes, which adds up to more efficiency and labor savings over time.
Cost-Saving Device Durability
Finally, while this next advantage isn’t about saving on labor costs, it’s about saving on your warehousing or manufacturing technology generally.
In the barcode scanning world, Zebra is already well-known for its unbeatable product durability, but its 3600 Series industrial scanners have taken ruggedness to an entirely new level, offering 23% greater durability than any other competing device.
These devices are virtually indestructible in the real-world use and abuse that we see every day in warehouses and on plant floors. They’re built to withstand drops to concrete from up to 8 feet and have survived tests involving 5,000 consecutive tumbles.
They also have IP65 and IP67 rated dust-proof and water-proof sealing, and they can handle a full-force hose down as well as submersion in water. They’re also engineered for extreme temperature resistance with corded models that can operate at temperatures of 122°F to -22°F, and cordless models that can withstand temperatures ranging from 122°F to -4°F.
All of this durability adds up to one simple benefit: instead of having to pay for expensive repairs or replacements for your damaged or broken devices, you’ll potentially save thousands of dollars on your IT budget and get extremely long life and the highest level of durability from any scanning device today.
Ultimately, these five ways to improve efficiency and minimize costs aren’t the only ways to improve warehouse and manufacturing operations with scanning technology. To learn about more the ways that you can create leaner and more cost-effective processes, connect with our team at Tri-State Business Systems, and we’ll be happy to set up a call to discuss more recommendations and potential solutions for your needs.