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Start gearing up your warehouse with 5 inventory management initiatives set to skyrocket in 2022

Technology advancements have facilitated faster order fulfillment and warehousing tasks by consolidating mainstream workflows onto user-friendly platforms. However, with advancements came a deeper interconnectedness amongst the different parts of the supply chain. One change in the production line affects the checkout lane. This has been consistently noted with issues like the global pandemic, escalating import tariffs, and material shortages. To thrive in the dynamic supply chain, warehouses have begun adopting new inventory management initiatives dedicated to expanding communication channels and protecting end-to-end visibility.

It started with automation, but the applications are now limitless

The 2020 pandemic served as a catalyst in accelerating advancements to meet an outburst of new and old demands. Researchers now believe the following trends will become mainstream best practices in modernized warehousing within the coming years:

  1. Multi-warehousing – Last-mile costs paired demands for same-day shipping has led companies to consider relocating closer to urban areas, yet city-based warehouses have higher operational costs and may incur zoning issues. As a result, mass warehouses have split into smaller localized segments that are monitored by a main central location. Efficient multi-warehousing depends on real-time connectivity to ensure visibility across sites. This is where intelligent devices like enterprise tablets help expand visibility while providing a scalable mobility solution for newer sites. By breaking apart warehouses, operations can provide faster shipping at a smaller cost. Multi-warehousing also amplifies flexibility since you can keep operations running even if one site is affected by a sudden change.
  2. The return of Internet of Things (IoT) – Studies suggest COVID-19 was also responsible for a halt in IoT adoption as warehouses scrambled to meet current demands. Now, as businesses are readjusting to new demands such as transparent traceability and worker safety codes, IoT can provide the key connectivity between digital assets. When mobile devices are all connected on a shared platform, warehouses can manage stock levels in real time as well as inbound and outbound operations linked manufacturing plants and retailers.
  3. Push for sustainability – It’s estimated nearly a third of today’s young consumers (ages 18 to 30) prefer brands committed to sustainable, eco-friendly warehousing. RFID tracking technologies have been gained maximum traction to both reduce paper labels and closely monitor inventory movement. Automated data verification helps minimize the unnecessary use of paper systems while preventing stock from getting lost and exacerbating expenses.
  4. Inventory forecasting – Intelligent visibility between supply chain steps is only the start to guaranteeing smoother workflows. That’s why operators are now investing in forecasting systems that synthesize purchase patterns from collected data to create possible response plans in the event of disruptions. Zebra’s MotionWorks takes it step farther by ensuring simplistic ease-of-use so your workforce doesn’t have to rely on an IT team to transform collected data into actionable insight.
  5. Real-time communication across the supply chain – Last, but certainly not least, unbreakable communication systems between manufacturers, field teams, warehouses, retailers, and even end-customers has become a centerpiece of effective modernization. This allows businesses to quickly alert team-members of changes and updates from anywhere in the supply chain, minimizing lost time and expenses. 

As new trends continue to emerge, Avalon remains committed to simplifying modernization through effective innovation. Discover new approaches to refining your competitive edge when you reach out to Avalon to learn more.

Innovative technologies, such as machine learning and real-time locationing, have long served as prime examples of today’s modernization efforts in warehousing, yet these disruptive initiatives have also been seen as “too complex” and “far off” by many operations -largely because of common misconceptions such as:

  • “Modernization requires extensive piloting and time to produce measurable ROI.”
  • “Modernization is only suitable for large-scale operations.” 
  • “Modernization will replace human operators.”
  • “Modernization is too expensive.”

With at least 69% of businesses claiming to have poor visibility into their supply chains, the time for misconceptions such as these is over. Because the digital era demands both speed and accuracy equally, outdated warehouse processes are no longer suitable to keep you competitive. However, modernization doesn’t have to be as complicated as you think, which is why we wanted to bring clarity to the four statements presented above:

  • “Modernization requires extensive piloting and time to produce measurable ROI.”

Design and piloting allow your team to test and tweak your solution for best results; however, extensive testing can drain budgets while causing downtime due to longer training periods. Nevertheless, modern touchscreen interfaces and Android’s user-friendly platform are developed to help minimize training for faster deployment and ROI. As a matter of fact, TE-app converters such as Zebra’s All-Touch Terminal Emulation help convert “green-screen” apps right out of the box without backend modifications for faster integration. 

  • “Modernization is only suitable for large-scale operations.” 

Working with a wide range of clients, from small and growing businesses to Fortune 500 companies, we’ve seen modernization solutions built with enterprise-grade technologies readily adapt in various-sized businesses. By streamlining multiple tasks through one device, technologies like the MC9300 computer can accomplish several specialized tasks through one intuitive interface, adapting to different workloads while accommodating growth.  

  • “Modernization will replace human operators.”

This is a common -and serious- concern regarding warehouse modernization, yet studies show that over 70% of warehouses actually plan to enhance human labor with partial automation. Simply put, while computers can intelligently gather and deliver information, human minds are still crucial to executing final decisions. For example, Zebra’s MotionWorks solution incorporates future-forward RFID locationing to track in-motion inventory and provide actionable insights that allow your workforce to make accurate plans to meet future needs and overcome challenges before they happen. By automating repetitive tasks, a modernized warehouse can also empower the workforce to deal with more high-level tasks.   

  • “Modernization is too expensive.”

Because effective modernization does not require a complete restructuring of your operations, it may actually be more affordable than previously imagined. On the flipside, outdated technologies can lead to high inaccuracies, missed compliance codes, multiple device servicing contracts, and frequent tech support and downtime – all greatly contributing to operational costs.  As a Zebra Premier Solutions Partner, Avalon works hard to make modernization as seamless and cost-effective as possible. Upgrade legacy devices from any manufacturer through the GO Zebra Trade-In Program to get cash back rebates up to $650 per device towards your upgrade. 

Every operation possesses its own unique requirements, which is why we know there may be other concerns and misunderstandings beyond what was covered. Contact us today to see how efficient modernization can help ease your doubts and turn challenges into opportunity. 

Efficient innovation has always been part of Avalon’s commitment to our clients. After navigating through triumphs and tribulations alongside a multitude of resilient teams, that goal hasn’t changed. That’s why we’re starting the year with a dedication to continue empowering businesses with sustainable solutions that drive down costs, maximize productivity, and most importantly, protect our environment. Now more than ever, business decisions have the capability of impacting entire communities; therefore, partnering with leading manufacturers like Zebra Technologies, Avalon’s experts are diving into a series of sustainable efforts that fit the modern warehouse with:

  • Cost-effective automation that reduces labor waste
  • Energy-efficient mobile devices that last throughout your longest shifts
  • Adaptable mobile computing to eliminate unnecessary deployment of supporting devices
  • Long-lasting consumables to reduce reprints 
  • Greater warehouse visibility and traceability backed by real-time locationing solutions

Building the Sustainable Supply Chain

Building the Sustainable Supply Chain

Over 80% of a business’s environmental impact comes from its supply chain

The push for sustainability may have stemmed from increased consumer demand for better traceability. However, studies suggest that today’s businesses are gravitating towards sustainable practices to lower operational costs and improve revenue performance. Since over 80% of a business’s environmental impact comes from its supply chain, digitized transparency has become the cornerstone in achieving a sustainable supply chain. Below are a few ways we’ve seen transparency result in sustainable operations throughout the whole supply chain:

  • In production and manufacturing – In 2018, the EPA estimated that manufacturing and production companies disposed of 292.4million tons of wasted material, including scraps, yard trimming, foods, etc. To make sure operations only use the appropriate amount of materials, visibility services, such as MotionWorks, have been implemented for just-in-time delivery of goods, preventing an excess of materials (and money) from being disposed of in landfills. 
  • In warehousing and distribution – In 2020, the average warehouse’ square foot space cost $7.18, almost a dollar increase from 2017. Wasteful storage costs money to run and can result in spoiled and misplaced inventory, which must later be thrown out as it becomes unsellable. Proper inventory management built with error-free automated data capture and long-lasting consumables can establish reliable identification parameters from receiving to shipping, preventing loss and shrinkage.
  • In transportation and logistics – Across the country, fuel prices continue to fluctuate. By integrating visibility solutions like RFID locationing and flexible network connectivity, businesses can track field teams to optimize travel routes for better fuel usage. Devices like Zebra’s TC7X touch computers empower field teams with dependable real-time connectivity for route changes and schedule updates to adjust workflows with minimal costly interruptions.
  • In retail and grocery – In addition to preserving the environment, sustainable retail operations result in higher profitability as consumers are willing to pay up to 20% for ethically-sound products. Traceability is key here since several regulation agencies work together to verify eco-friendly claims. Paperless data processing via automated data entry and computing can help eliminate errors and facilitate data sharing for seamless audits and updates.

Whether your operations are at the beginning of the end of the supply chain, every team can benefit from sustainable optimization. To see how you can add sustainability into your enterprise goals for the year, reach out to our modernization experts for an in-depth assessment of your workflows and find out where you can substitute inefficiency with dependable and transparent enterprise intelligence.

In 1999, the term, “Internet of Things” (IoT) was merely a concept used to explain the possibilities of early RFID technology; however, today’s 26 billion internet-connected devices have turned the concept into reality. From enterprise-grade to consumer technology, studies project a 49 billion growth in internet-connected devices worldwide by 2025, averaging around 10 devices for every human on the planet. 

Not surprisingly, modern-day locationing solutions have evolved to enhance warehouse visibility while accommodating more devices into increasingly complex supply chains. However, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all locationing solution. From RFID tags to GPS tracking, today’s locationing systems can be adapted to fit your workflow’s unique requirements. As leaders in innovative efficiency, Avalon Integration encourages considering eight elements that can dictate locationing efficiency.

Transportation Logistics Receiving Dock Visionary Visibility

Avalon Integration can help you find the best locationing system

Locating the Best Locationing System

Every industry can benefit from accurate locationing, but that doesn’t mean all solutions will be the same. Storage facilities may not require detailed real-time visibility if only general locationing suffices. On the other hand, food-processing factories might need in-depth visibility into storage temperature and asset lifespan. Whatever your application may be, consider the following influencing factors:

  • Read range – Not all readers can cover large warehouses, and not all tags can survive long voyages across the globe while remaining functional. Determining read range is crucial in selecting a reader that fits your operations.
  • Location accuracy – Today’s RFID solutions can track moving inventory, but if your assets are mostly static, this may not be needed.
  • Asset type – Certain solutions may not fit with your assets. For example, RFID tends to underperform on metal, and real-time locationing may be unsuitable for tracking personnel due to privacy issues. In addition to asset type, work environment may also impact your locationing system’s efficiency.
  • Battery Lifespan – Much like read range, battery lifespan limits how far your locationing system can go.
  • Connectivity Options – From Bluetooth to WiFi, every connectivity option has its benefits and limitations. Common connectivity options include Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS, cellular/satellite, 4/5G, and LTE. 
  • Compatibility – Data without readability is useless. Insight collected by your locationing system can be used to optimize operations and streamline efficiency; therefore, data should be accessible through your mobile devices.
  • Cost – Because of different read ranges and lifespans, locationing systems can vary in price, which means there could be a more cost-effective option than mainstream solutions.

Offering a wide ecosystem of visibility technology, Avalon Integration partners with Zebra Technologies in designing efficient locationing systems that address every consideration listed above with efficient functionality.  Whether it’s through Zebra’s RFID-based MotionWorks or the industry’s most-efficient line of enterprise-grade tablets, choose a visibility solution that best adapts to your workspace.

Ready to start? Contact Avalon Integration today for an in-depth assessment of your workflow to find a visibility solution centered on your needs.