In a span of a decade, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) along with the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) have reported a 125% increase in food recalls. In 2020, the FSIS recorded a total of 1,394,585 pounds of recalled products, pulled from markets due to pathogens, allergens, presence of extraneous materials, and import violations. Studies show that grievous tracking and traceability gaps have been responsible for:

  • 47% of recalls stemming from microbiological contamination
  • $3.7 billion spent in medical treatments for salmonella 
  • Nearly 8.5 million food units recalled yearly by the FDA
  • 601,969 pounds of recalled chicken in 2020 alone

While these numbers are ominous, one of the primary reasons behind the increase in recalls are traceability technology and new safety regulations. Real-time tracking and labeling systems now provide easier verification of compliance codes in food safety. That means manufacturers can target and catch more mistakes than before with the help of new intelligent tools and better safety parameters set by the FDA, FSIS, and CDC. However, while timely recalls can prevent pathogen outbreaks, they quickly erode consumer trust. An estimated 80% of consumers do not completely trust brands to ensure safety, and over a third report avoiding businesses associated with food-borne illnesses for many months. Therefore, visibility systems must prioritize early detection to keep compromised products from leaving facilities in the first place. 

The key to establish real-time alerts based on actionable data

Less communication gaps empowers teams with a clear overview of how products are handled, packaged, stored, and moved. Labeling systems paired with handheld scanners and mobile computers can help eliminate gaps by transcribing data from each step into a centralized shareable database. On the other hand, new rugged tablets like Zebra’s ET80/85 2-in-1 tablets emphasize the power of agile adaptability in securing food safety by:

  • Providing a lightweight consolidated computer and scanner – Despite having an integrated scanner and higher durability standards, the ET80/85 is 20% lighter and 35% thinner for easy portability. Its larger screen size permits workers to monitor products at-a-glance when operating forklifts or other heavy machinery.
  • Facilitating data entry with a detachable keyboard – Keep workflows standardized with a device that adapts to preferred data entry mechanisms for administrators and production teams alike. Detachable keyboards and universal mounting options allow the ET80/85 to fit into different work environments, simplifying training and accelerating deployment. 
  • Reducing connection drops through flexible connectivity options – Leveraging several connectivity options such as WiFi 6E, 4G/5G, and Bluetooth, the ET80/85 prevents downtime and breakdowns from signal drops within the four walls, keeping your vital data constantly available to your workforce. This also means workers can update WIPs, notifications, and compliance codes in real-time for entire teams to track. 
  • Deploying seamless push-to-talk and secured texting – Lastly, Zebra’s Workforce Connect empowers manufacturers with real-time communication between individual workers and entire groups, all streamlined through one platform. Moreover, connectivity can extend beyond the four walls, allowing transportation teams and retailers to verify shipments are ready for sale. 

To efficiently start securing real-time workflow visibility, begin with a comprehensive operational assessment to target recurring points of communication breakdowns. Contact Avalon to start your assessment today and learn more about the next generation of technologies devoted to dependable food safety.

A little over a third of warehouses are investing in technology plans to integrate RFID as a foundational part of their automation plans. From increased inventory control to real-time asset visibility, RFID tracking is known for facilitating instant locationing and 99.99% accuracy. However, several steps are crucial to ensure seamless and scalable RFID tracking. One of these steps involves assessing the best fit RFID tag to avoid damaging interference. When building a reliable RFID tracking system, consider the following components in your RFID tag:

  1. Application environment – While RFID can carry a myriad of benefits to even the most unique warehouses, tags can be severely impacted by certain kinds of surfaces such as metals and liquids. Fortunately, newer tag technology like Zebra’s on-metal labels can be engineered to retain legibility on dense materials, yet preliminary surface considerations should be made to verify if a different tracking system is the best fit.
  2. Frequency type – Tags frequencies can involve low, high, or ultrahigh frequencies depending on the reader’s distance and processing speeds. Low frequencies generally cost less and are more resistant to water and metal applications. On the other hand, high frequency tags sport larger memory capacity and easier readability for more accurate first-time scans. Lastly, ultrahigh frequencies can be read from 25 feet away or more while identifying entire containers of shipped goods in mere seconds. However, ultrahigh frequencies are more sensitive to application environments, limiting their use.
  3. Composition of your tag – As with any other kind of label, adhesive strength and surface type play a large role in label longevity. Improper adhesive strength can lead to peeled and torn edges, thus hindering legibility. Although rough surfaces may not implicate scanning, they damage printheads overtime, leading to premature printhead failure and costly downtime.
  4. Memory capacity – Larger tag capacities can hold greater details, yet they are not always necessary. Therefore, investing in smaller memory capacity can dramatically lower operational costs without compromising your solution’s functionality. In contrast, higher memory tags may employ better encryption for dependable data security and accuracy.

Designing a suitable label with Zebra’s Certified Inlays

Built with stringently tested materials for consistent performance, Zebra’s Certified Consumables can be customized to match your application and environment requirements without printer voids. Tags can be tailored to…

  • Survive high temperatures, moisture, UV light, etc.
  • Accommodate desired memory space without burdening your budget
  • Match challenging surfaces like metal, water, and dense materials
  • Stick onto smaller curved surfaces with flag designs

With so many different options available, the most suitable first step is to schedule an RFID consultation to assess your workflows’ compatibility with RFID tracking systems. In doing so, your team can work with RFID specialists to design a tailored visibility solution combining readers, tags, and software that adapts to your operational needs.

Shaping modern warehousing from the inside out, demands for sustainable practices have skyrocketed, with a 71% increase in searches for sustainably sourced and packaged products. To retain customer loyalty, warehouses and distribution centers can no longer afford to overlook operational sustainability. Moreover, as supply chain issues continue, eco-friendly practices can also help minimize costs and downtime since versatile technologies aim at reducing e-waste, thus streamlining several vital workflows through one rugged device for less future decommissioned devices. In addition to a smaller carbon footprint, sustainable warehousing promotes:

  • Consolidated workflows for less deployed devices and reduced management costs
  • Future-proof operating systems to prevent early decommissioning
  • Durable printheads and smooth surface labels that mitigate premature printhead failure
  • Less paper-based data tracking thanks to automated scanning capabilities

Explore your sustainable modernization options

To further facilitate your sustainable plan, next-generation technologies strive to support the qualities discussed above. For example, Zebra’s Rugged Tablets hold EPEAT certifications, thus complying with multiple stringent standards while automating data capture. Whether through rugged tablets or mobile computers, sustainable warehousing can be achieved through…

  1. Eco-friendly upgrades that guarantee proper recycling – As businesses move toautomate repetitive tasks, concerns for improper e-waste disposal grow. To prevent outdated devices from hitting landfills, Avalon continues in its partnership with the GO Zebra Program, assisting businesses in trading legacy devices from any manufacturer for Zebra’s next-evolution devices along with cash rebates up to $650 per device.
  2. Minimum operational lifespan of five to ten years for mobile devices – Unlike consumer-grade devices which typically last between one to two years, enterprise-devices running on Android’s OS can last up to 10 years with uncompromised data security thanks to silent yet recurring updates and security patches.
  3. Durable external design to withstand rough use – Optimize reliable operations with durability that is built to handle drops to concrete, rain, snow, dust, extreme heat, subzero temperatures, and liquids. Zebra’s Rugged Tablets are waterproof, dustproof, and drop-proof, so your workers get the ultimate in usability. When devices are built to survive harsher conditions, businesses can also avoid wasteful downtime and breakdowns, decreasing operational costs, IT visits, and eventual device disposal.
  4. Reliable battery management – Lastly, to reduce risks of improper battery disposal and sudden device malfunction, applications similar to Zebra’s PowerPrecision can pinpoint a battery’s lifespan and performance. This enables workflows to preempt problems before they impact productivity while tracking retired batteries to prevent improper disposal.

With the correct technologies, even the smallest changes can greatly improve sustainable warehousing. For more small-scale changes and implementations, contact Avalon’s modernization experts to learn more.

LIBERTY CORNER. N.J. – Keeping up with its tradition as an innovator, Avalon is among the first partners to join Zebra’s Fetch Robotics Referral Program, facilitating next-generation automation solutions. 

As AMRs continue to reshape modern warehousing, Zebra’s acquisition of Fetch Robotics is set to empower resellers in the referral program to best identify, deploy, and maintain on-demand automation in fulfillment centers. 

“We’re constantly pushing our customers towards adaptable modernization to keep them ahead of market challenges,” said Doug Houser, Vice President of Marketing and Business Development. “Being a part of the referral program will give us access to the latest warehouse technology, so we can build future picking solutions with competitive devices like AMRs and even cloud-based apps, all without having to go through a ton of different vendors.”

The program is also expected to complement current solutions like Zebra’s FulfillmentEdge and several data capture systems. Seamless integration will be pivotal since over half of modern warehouses equip the workforce with partial automation. Expects hold a positive outlook on the possibilities brought on by the acquisition.

“Our goal is to give robots and people the opportunity to do their very best work,” said Bill Burns, Chief Product & Solutions Officer, Zebra Technologies in their press release. “This acquisition is a continuation of what we expect to be a series of innovations that reflect our commitment to creating solutions that help our customers improve their operations through robotics.” 

All questions concerning Avalon’s future offers in robotics can be directed here

The rise in consumer demands for sustainable and environmentally conscious warehousing has skyrocketed within the past years as more consumers grow concerned with the environmental impact of their preferred brands. While recycling and trade-in programs can reduce e-waste in the warehouse, there are other efficient small-scale solutions to reduce environmental impacts. Despite accounting for less than 10% of your operation’s total expenses, enterprise labels significantly contribute to warehouse waste over time. Labels and other paper waste contribute to the 85,000,000 tons of paper waste hitting landfills per year, and product packaging is usually first in the most disposed paper products. Although reducing paper waste may require more effort than label optimization, your consumables are still a good place to start when creating a sustainable warehouse. 

Evaluating your operations to ensure environmental sustainability is crucial to make sure you are getting everything out of your labels. A proactive label evaluation can help establish visibility and cut down on unnecessary costs by pinpointing areas where better labels can be implemented. The goal should be to create a labeling system that empowers:

  • Waste reduction – To accomplish this, many businesses are now turning to linerless labels, thus removing the additional paper waste from the adhesive backing. Another way to avoid paper waste is by preventing labor jams through purpose-built printheads and easier media loading.
  • Easy reutilization– For businesses reusing labeled containers, new tag options like dissolvable labels allow businesses to easily wash away adhesives without leaving behind any residual glue that can prevent new labels from sticking. Paper fibers are environmentally friendly to prevent water pollution. 
  • Seamless recycling at the end of the supply chain – Evaluate how your labeled items are entering and exiting the market. If labeled items are received by another facility within your business, you can maintain control of the handling or disposal of these items.

Streamline high performance with certified printing supplies

Building on a long history of warehouse optimization, Zebra’s certified labels continue to provide a scalable and adaptable way to improve supply chain workflows and meet customer demands. Designed to retain legibility even in the harshest conditions, the following three labels prioritize sustainability and decreased environmental impact while protecting maximum uptime: 

  1. Take sustainability a step further at its face with adhesive that readily dissolves under running water, further reducing waste and pollutants with the 8000D Dissolvable Label. These labels provide a more efficient means to removing disposable labels for seamless reutilization of containers and bins. 
  2. Eliminate the need for a liner with Zebra’s Linerless Labels. To reduce extraneous amounts of paper waste, Zebra’s linerless labels do not need a thermal printing ribbon and gives workflows more labels per roll along with a scratch-resistant and smooth surface for maximized printhead performance.
  3. Enable easy recycling to lower the amount of packaging that hits landfills with the PolyE 4000D Label and Z-Perform 1000DF Label. Made from consistently tested materials, these labels are engineered to comply with environmental standards for easy recycling. 

When it comes to driving sustainability in the modern warehouse, every small detail can create a long and lasting impact. Contact us today to being your comprehensive label evaluation and see how you can reduce costs and waste in your operations.

As warehouses and distribution centers race to welcome the end of the year surge in online orders and shipments, it is important to include maximized data security as part of optimization strategies. Studies show that cyberattacks may increase by as much as 57% during the holiday season since most IT departments may function with smaller workforces at the end of the year. While many attacks target online shoppers, big businesses are not exempt. In 2019, 40% of surveyed retailers admitted to losing revenue as a result of cyberattacks. Although thorough security plans are highly beneficial in preventing costly breaches, individual device security is also essential to mitigating attacks. To prioritize data protection, the following recommendations provide a safe place to start:

  1. Make sure operating systems are updated – An outdated OS such as Windows Mobile incur greater vulnerabilities that can be exploited. Without updates, operating systems cannot provide the necessary patches to close security gaps. This is one of the many reasons why Android for Enterprise has grown in popularity within modern warehousing. Not only does it facilitate onboarding and app integration, but it also offers recurring and silent OS updates to protect data without disrupting workflows.
  2. Certify non-screen devices are also secured – With the rise of IoT comes additional vulnerabilities through points of entry previously unimagined such as a barcode printer. Security applications such as Zebra’s PrintSecure allow workers to prevent connections by unauthorized users while also encrypting printed data from an extra layer of security within operations.
  3. Ensure all employees are familiar with basic security measures – Studies show that human error alone has been responsible for as much as 43% of data breaches. With the modern workforce being composed of mostly 18-30 year-olds, complicated green-screen devices may pose a risk for data security along with delayed productivity. Consequently, modernized and easy-to-use handheld devices can help prevent human errors that result in breaches, thus maximizing data security.

Modernizing Security in Three Steps with Zebra Technologies

To remove the hassles of modernized device security, Avalon continues in its partnership with Zebra Technologies in simplifying upgrades through the GO Zebra Trade-In Program. Replace outdated devices with Android handhelds and get up to $650 in cash rebates per device by following 3 simple steps:

  1. Purchase your eligible device
  2. Submit your claim form within 90 days of the invoice date
  3. Trade in legacy devices from any manufacturer for cash rebates.

From optimized visibility to dependable data security, create a modernization solution built to thrive in today’s challenging environments both physical and digital. Contact our modernization experts today for a free consultation of your workflows to get started.

Thanks to omnichannel fulfillment and globalization, today’s products pass through several hands between the factory production and the checkout lane. Amongst the many systems in place to ensure smooth production flows, workforce communication across the supply chain continues to be a struggle for most companies. Without proper communication channels between warehouses and retailers, costly out-of-stocks threaten customer satisfaction and profitability. Unfortunately, it’s estimated that out-of-stocks will increase by 172% this year due to labor and supply chain shortages, and communication breakdowns are only expected to worsen the situation. Despite the outlook, studies suggest digital sales between November 1st and December 31st will amount to at least $207 billion in the U.S. alone. Poor supply chain communication is often caused by:

  • SKU proliferation – Many different variants of the same kind of product may be difficult to track once they leave the warehouse.
  • Various shipping options – Companies offering direct-to-customer and buy-online-pickup-in-store shipping options may open pallets, leaving more room for error and incorrect storage.
  • Inexperienced workforce – As new hires take time to adapt to workflows, delays may result during inventory counting.

On the flipside, companies actively integrating dependable communication channels between the storefront and suppliers have seen up to 25% productivity increases since delays and inaccuracies are mitigated before they progress through the supply chain. As the 2021 Holiday Peak Season draws near, the following solutions have grown in popularity among retailers and distributors to breakdown communication barriers:

  1. Wireless networking – Wall-to-wall connectivity enables warehouse workers to update stock counts from anywhere, but connectivity across the supply chain allows all teams to update and alert each other of stock shortages, production delays, and delivery times before surprises affect customer loyalty. For example, push-to-talk applications like Zebra’s Workforce Connect unites drivers and warehouse administrators, enabling real-time routing, voice-based texting, and task adjustments all without an additional device. This lowers operation costs while making sure transportation teams have access to the most current updates wherever they are.
  2. Streamlined mobile computing – Multiple SKU numbers are difficult to track when using legacy-based systems and manual data processing. To eliminate error-prone repetitive tasks such as inventory logging and cycle counting, next-generation mobile computers are now equipped with intelligent scanning engines to transmit barcode data straight to the WMS, bypassing paper tracking. Rugged mobile devices can also be taken outside of the warehouse, ensuring one durable, simple, and standard digital experience for both warehouse, delivery, and retailers.
  3. RFID verification – Lastly, with shipping timeframes shrinking to mere days, fast and accurate order verification is essential to prevent errors from leaving the warehouse. Consequently, RFID tracking and traceability has proven valuable in quickly verifying orders as they move down the supply chain. Real-time locationing solutions within the storefront also assist busy associates in tracking high-demand items, providing fast customer service during peak hours.

While the solutions above provide a safe place to start enhancing supply chain communication, unique applications may require a more tailored solution to adapt to your workflow’s demand and capacity. To explore more optimization choices, contact us for a step-by-step assessment of the current obstacles in your workflows.

The great Android Migration has consumed modernization strategies for the past years ever since Microsoft announced discontinued support for Windows CE-based mobile devices. Those seeking to protect data can no longer rely on Windows Mobile for their handheld devices. However, while Android is dominating the mobility frontier, Windows OS has yet to become completely obsolete. In spite of Android’s seamless adaptability, Microsoft still possesses enterprise familiarity as it continues to power a vast majority of rugged laptops and tablets. Apart from small-scale handheld devices such as mobile computers and enterprise smartphones, Windows 10 OS can still be beneficial since it enables…

  • Seamless connectivity to peripheral devices – Because most enterprise devices have been accustomed to running on Windows’ OS, peripheral hardware such as ring scanners, mobile printers, and headsets from varying manufacturers can quickly connect to your Windows device without extensive lag times.
  • Open ecosystem for non-traditional software – As the oldest supporting operating system in enterprise, Windows has built a long history of accommodating software updates and applications previously designed for desktops onto laptop interfaces. This allows field workers to quickly navigate through data while on the road without having to readapt to a new interface, lowering training times and simplifying workflows.
  • Enterprise-ready security on the field – Unlike Windows CE, tablets running on Windows 10 can still count on recurring enterprise security and support from Microsoft. This means teams can rely on seamless ease-of-use along with reliable data security for sensitive transactions and financial information.

What to look for in your Windows Tablet

As with previous enterprise hardware recommendation, selecting a Windows tablet requires businesses to note the following characteristics:

  • Portability and ergonomics since devices will most likely be used by your most on-the-move workers.
  • Flexible connectivity options to accommodate field teams working far beyond standard cellular coverage.
  • Glove friendly touchscreen usage that safeguards usability in colder and outdoor environments.
  • Streamlined functionalities such as automated data capture and data sharing within a protected platform.
  • Simplistic device management to guarantee maximum uptime even when devices are far from IT support teams.

See how Zebra’s L10 Rugged Tablet goes beyond these standards while leveraging the adaptability of Windows 10. When it comes to effective modernization, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all system. That’s why we continue to recommend businesses to carefully plan modernization strategies with a specialized team to best target unique optimization opportunities. In doing so, companies can expect to create a scalable modernization strategy that embraces change while leveraging familiarity for seamless integration.

Currently, the industrial sector is responsible for about 32% of the nation’s total energy consumption. Between compliance fees, utility charges, and labor expenses, manufacturing plants expect high costs when it comes to storing inventory on-site. However, to keep up with surges in demand, manufacturers must keep necessary materials always in hand lest they risk sudden stockouts that lead to delays in production, lost sales, and product shortages. To circumvent these issues, inventory management strategies like just-in-time (JIT) material reordering have become more prominent as a way to alleviate storage expenses, yet while cost-effective, JIT leaves little room for error.

When operating in a JIT inventory management system, facilities strive to keep less inventory on site to avoid stockpiling materials that may not get used. This means that operators must quickly reorder materials as soon as they dip below an established threshold point to avoid shortages. Failure to reorder on time can pause operations since the production line has to wait for incoming materials. When done correctly, JIT enables:

  • Minimized storage costs
  • Greater visibility on products assembled
  • Mitigated depreciation risks
  • Maximized storage space for finished goods
  • Seamless adaptability to sudden increases in demand

Establishing Effective Tracking for Just-in-Time Reordering

To prevent the risks of inefficient JIT inventory management, a viable system should integrate the following three factors.

  1. Real-time data visibility – Preventing out-of-stocks requires fast insight into dwindling inventory. That’s why real-time visibility stemming from technologies such as RFID locationing and digitization have become essential in securing JIT efficiency since they allow workers to target decreasing inventory counts before they fall below the established threshold level. 
  2. Unbroken workforce communication – In addition to timely visibility, workers should be able to communicate with each other immediately to notify of any impending shortages or stockouts. Solutions like Zebra’s Workforce Connect transforms current handheld devices into two-way radios for manufacturer and delivery teams, closing the gaps between delivery and receiving docks, so workers know when and where incoming shipments will arrive.
  3. Scalable automation – One of the perks of JIT reordering is that it facilitates adaptability in the event of sudden surges in demand, yet this flexibility can only be capitalized if the correct data processing tools are in place. Versatile enterprise devices such as Zebra’s rugged tablets provide adaptable functionality with flexible connectivity options, built-in scanning capabilities, longer battery life, and higher data security parameters to streamline data capture, processing, and sharing on one platform. Therefore, workers can simply add an additional layer of functionality to their versatile devices instead of having to deploy an entire new device to keep up with changes.   

While JIT inventory management has gripped the attention of most manufacturers, it is only one of the many ways supply chains are adapting to meet demands and overcome shortages challenges. To get a better idea of how you can optimize your inventory management system, schedule a workflow assessment and explore the modernized solutions reshaping supply chains today

Among the myriad of changes brought on by last year’s health crisis, the increase in e-commerce transactions has continued to reshape supply chains throughout the post-pandemic landscape. Accounting for over a fifth of sales in the grocery industry alone, e-commerce remains as one of the top preferred transactions due to its convenience and speed. However, between workforce shortages and snowballing last-mile costs, supply chains have yet to successfully meet high customer demands continuously. As a matter of fact, researchers from the National Retail Federation show that over 40% of businesses still cite fast fulfillment as their top concern. To meet demands without overspending, businesses are now combining warehouse technologies in the retail landscape through micro fulfillment centers (MFC’s).

Leveraging maximized automation solutions, MFC’s concentrate high-demand inventory within one section of the storefront for quick seamless picking. Leading warehouse devices such as long-range scanners and ultra-rugged handheld computers are then employed to safeguard fulfillment efficiency as orders are received. This ultimately results in:

  • Higher order accuracy – Modernized scanning capabilities similar to Zebra’s intelligent PRZM scanning engines eliminate the need to manually verify orders by ensuring more successful first-time scans. Applications like SimulScan can further enhance this process by capturing multiple barcodes at once in one trigger pull.
  • Lower labor costs – Automated solutions have been proven to diminish operational costs since they streamline vital workflows through one platform. For example, Zebra’s enterprise tablets secure unbroken communication channels, enterprise data capture, and user-friendly visibility into cycle counts and incoming orders all on one touchscreen interface.
  • Faster contactless services – Services like click-and collect, curbside pickup, and buy-online-pickup-in-store are only expected to keep thriving. That means store associates may now share in the same challenges that often plague warehouses struggling to stay ahead of incoming orders without compromising accuracy. To further protect communication channels within the workforce, Zebra’s Workforce Connect transforms handheld devices into 2-way radios, thus eliminating the need for additional devices while adding a dependable layer of teamwork and workflow visibility.     

Are your operations suitable for micro fulfillment?

This is the question many large-scale businesses have begun to ask themselves, and while the answer may be different for everyone, one thing is sure: automation continues to hold the key to business success in the modern market. Start the modernization journey by assessing workflows with a specialized optimization team to see how you can leverage purpose-built technologies to establish greater customer satisfaction without overburdening the workforce.