Research shows e-commerce brought in roughly $768 billion in sales back in 2021, with around half of U.S. consumers reporting to have received at least one delivery per week. That translates to over 110 million orders processed per week nationwide. Since e-commerce shoppers show no signs of relenting purchases, warehouses remain in a continuous struggle to accelerate fulfillment rates without compromising order accuracy. Zebra’s Warehousing Vision Study revealed that 73% of participating warehouses expect partial automation to solve this issue; however, automation may take different forms depending on a warehouse’s order volume.

What Can “Partial Automation” Look Like?

Micro-fulfillment warehouses and cold storage facilities clearly have different challenges and needs compared to traditional distribution centers. As a result, partial automation may look different between facilities. Below are a few adaptable automation solutions currently accelerating order picking within challenging and traditional environments alike:

  • Start with digital data capture to eliminate manual recording.

Digitization is the most basic yet scalable way to prevent costly mistakes from entering the supply chain. At its core, an automated data capture solution is composed of a handheld scanner connected to your WMS and legible barcodes, yet Avalon empowers you to take your system a step farther by deploying pre-tested labels that retain barcode legibility in harsh and/or high-demand environments. For example, Zebra’s Certified Consumables can be tailored to integrate waterproof and scratch resistant surfaces for a longer lifespan within cold storage. By removing manual inventory updates, warehouse teams can get real-time insight to stock levels and location, optimizing picking paths and preventing out-of-stocks through one intelligent solution. 

  • Integrate power carts to minimize worker travel time and bottlenecks.

If your warehouse is already leveraging automated data capture, power carts expand functionality by increasing receiving volume by 63% in less travel time. By mobilizing industrial printers, scanning, and inventory visibility, power carts remove bottlenecks around static centralized label printing stations, allowing workers to stay focused and productive at all times. Zebra’s intelligent industrial printers further accelerate processes with faster printing speeds and easier media loading, ultimately resulting in 75% less overtime when paired with Newcastle’s mobile workstations.  

  • Move inventory with AMRs to alleviate workers.

Autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) are currently being used in large-scale high-demand warehouses to lessen the pressures of today’s current labor shortage. Previous studies have shown that AMRs and co-bots can triple picking rates by moving entire pallets to the shipping dock, delivering a noticeable ROI within as little as 3 months. With Zebra’s acquisition of Fetch Robotics, Avalon now brings the latest insights into simplifying AMR integration for future warehouse adaptability and faster order picking. 

Simply put, the definitions of “partial automation” are adaptable to your warehouse’s needs and constraints. That’s why it is recommended that warehouses meet with a modernization team to build a customized plan. Successful solutions can empower warehouses to meet current customer demands while preparing them for eventual challenges ahead.

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.