When operating in dynamic supply chains, operational visibility is critical to prevent unseen obstacles from halting productivity and impacting customer satisfaction. However, increasing demands and shortages have created a unique situation where modernization -while beneficial and promising- can be a hindrance if it’s not easily adopted by an evolving workforce. From the production floor to the checkout lane, automation must enhance worker performance. In warehouses, 77% of businesses are currently in the process of equipping workers with automated solutions. At the other end of the supply chain, retailers have claimed over 60% of RFID tag purchases in 2020 alone. To ensure smooth implementation, the following three factors have become popular among leading modernization strategies.

Modernization is built on familiar interfaces, intuitive versatility, and tested expertise.

As automated systems are designed, Avalon recommends considering the following as foundational parts of your modernization plan for hassle-free implementation:

  • Familiar Interfaces – An hour of downtime, whether planned or surprise, can cost businesses over $100,000 per hour in lost productivity, missed deadlines, customer dissatisfaction, and worker stress. To combat this, familiar interfaces such as touchscreen usability and Android’s user-friendly OS help diminish training times while welcoming new hires without complex functionalities.  This is where applications such as Zebra’s All-Touch Terminal Emulation (TE) come in handy as they help convert legacy TE apps into a touchscreen display for immediate use prior installation.
  • Intuitive Versatility – Supply chain efficiency generally depends on three kinds of devices: the scanner, the data processor, and a communicator. For this reason, most team members have been burdened with three or more devices to execute these three main tasks. A feasible modernization strategy should attempt to streamline these tasks through one versatile device. For example, newer mobile computers have been adapted to include intelligent data capture, fast automated data processing directly to your centralized management system, and sustainable communication channels that eliminate the need for bulky two-way radios.
  • Tested Expertise – Working alongside longtime experts such as Avalon’s modernization specialists helps diminish deployment times since they can draw from multiple past scenarios for a tailored design. Furthermore, post-deployment services such as assisted maintenance and tech support certifies your solution is running smoothly for future updates and changes.

With the 2021 Peak Season fast approaching, swift and seamless modernization may just be the key to enhancing your competitive edge and surpassing customer expectations. Take the first step when you talk through your options with an Avalon specialist to begin designing a modernization strategy that elevates productivity and profitability with hassle-free implementation.

Seize Your Edge: Meet the Device Redefining Wearable Efficiency

As warehouses and distribution centers prepare for the end-of-the-year uptick in order processing, the demand for simplistic technologies increases since it facilitates faster deployment and productivity for seasonal hires. Consequently, wearable technologies have gained traction due to their ease-of-use and maximized safety. Previous studies have cited a 15% increase in productivity without overstraining the workforce or budgets, resulting from:

  • Higher ergonomics which boosts worker comfort
  • Android’s intuitive platform that’s familiar to consumer-grade devices
  • Streamlined data capture and processing to eliminate manual data entry
  • Tap and pair connectivity with current mobile computers and WMS

Moreover, wearable technologies facilitate the integration of hands-free picking technologies, which have been shown to accelerate inventory movement and overall productivity. To truly serve as a viable option, wearable technologies should be lightweight, adaptable to individual workers, and compatible with current picking systems to avoid major disruptions.

Zebra’s HD4000 meets all the goals while enabling additional benefits.

As the first of its kind, Zebra’s head-mounted display connects to your mobile device to promote real-time visibility and hands-free directed workflows set right before your employee’s eyes. The result has consistently been…

  1. Maximized task accuracy since digitized orders no longer require manual input.
  2. Faster order fulfillment since inventory location and status information is poised right in front of workers as they navigate throughout the warehouse.
  3. Greater worker safety as employees are able to travel around the warehouse with their eyes focused directly at the task at hand.
  4. Faster adaptability to changes since displays can be remotely updated in the event of supply chain changes and sudden demands. This helps warehouses prevent out of stocks since inventory levels can be monitored in real-time.  
  5. Individualized worker flexibility backed by leading optical display technology that adjusts to pupillary distances, glasses, and differences between right and left eyes, all to minimize eye fatigue.

See how the HD4000 increases productivity in our fact sheet. Simplicity and intelligence go hand in hand when developing a modernized order picking solution. Contact Avalon to see how you can increase both with wearable technologies designed for the high-demand digital age.

What Makes Intelligent Automation So Smart?

It’s no surprise that intelligent automation has been on the forefront of current modernization trends. Over two thirds of warehouses across the globe have continuously cited partial automation as the key to increased profitability and competitiveness, yet not every automation solution is built the same. This explains why so many warehouses remain cautious to swap familiar systems such as pen-and-paper inventory tracking for newer solutions such as RFID locationing since disruptions can lead to:

  • Operational delays that affect the whole supply chain – Studies suggest parcel shipments will double to 220 billion shipments worldwide by 2026.
  • Negative brand identity – Nearly seven out of ten shoppers abandon brands if their purchase isn’t delivered within two days the stipulated time frame.   
  • Lost sales and customer loyalty – Customer acquisition costs can amount to 25% more retention costs.
  • Inventory and asset misplacements that contribute to higher TCO – Improper storage and handling has created a $750 billion loss in the food industry alone.
  • Worker stress that fuels labor turnover rates – With turnover rates exceeding 30%, warehouses simply can’t afford to risk complex systems requiring longer training and onboarding time.
What Makes Intelligent Automation So Smart image

Sense, Evaluate, and Expand

Streamlining workflows from multiple areas in the warehouse, truly intelligent automation solutions should be able to leverage captured data into actionable insight without hindering productivity. Assess a solution’s intelligence by analyzing its capacity to accomplish the following three goals:

  1. It empowers you to sense change while communicating with supporting systems such as your WMS, ERP, and TMS. For example, Zebra’s Fortified Android enables greater intelligence by aggregating new applications into its open ecosystem, ultimately facilitating data sharing between systems and departments.
  2. It simplifies data evaluation to create actionable insights. Paper-based data systems have been shown to be more error-prone, thus complicating actionable intelligence since workers must navigate through several logs and systems. On the other hand, automated data capture and RFID solutions eliminate complications while accelerating data entry with less touchpoints and room for error.
  3. It’s expandable for the whole warehouse and future employees as operations grow. Since demands are only expected to continue increasing, technologies should welcome the possibilities of high demand, longer shifts, and tougher work environments. Rugged hardware such as Zebra’s handheld MC9300 exemplifies this well by pairing its ultra-rugged design with a user-friendly Android interface for easy deployment. The result is a scalable mobility solution fit for indoor and outdoor use year-round.

Based on these three goals, there are many next-generation technologies that can form an intelligent automation solution. With the help of an experienced solution design team, you can start building a modernization plan that best suits your warehouse. Contact us for more information.