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Undisruptive Modernization – It’s possible with these three initiatives.

 

Complex implementation has long been cited as one of the leading obstacles warehouses face when modernizing their workflows. Today’s fast-paced operations leave little room for extensive training times, app alterations, and lulls in productivity; however, failure to properly modernize can also slow down efficiency as workers must navigate through higher demands with outdated devices, bottlenecks, and inaccurate data. In other words, complex modernization is almost as detrimental as no modernization.

 

So, if modernization skills must be intelligent enough to compete in today’s high-demand environments, yet simple enough to maximize uptime, the question remains: How can warehouses bridge the gap between simplicity and adaptability? Several supply chain experts and tech players suggest the answer may be:

 

  • Digitize inventory tracking through mobile devices
    It’s estimated that distribution centers have inventory accuracy rates as low as 60% depending, generating more surprise out-of-stocks for retailers as they must wait for distributors to restock. Poor inventory counting also breaks down business relationships within the supply chain as more pressure is placed on manufacturers to restock items, further fueling shortages. On the other hand, digitized stock tracking and counting enables reports to be shared instantaneously, so teams can operate with a clear view of available inventory. Zebra’s RFD90 is a prime example of efficient mobile digitization since the sled can integrate real-time RFID visibility onto any Zebra handheld to enable faster inventory locationing, trackable work-in-progress, and seamless communication between manufacturers, distributors, and retailers.
  • Prioritize, OS, software, and app updates
    Devices running on Android’s open ecosystem benefit from simplistic app additions since the operating system does not require applications to be rewritten. That means workers can add their preferred apps onto their Android devices to retain some familiarity and lower training times. Moreover, applications like All-Touch Terminal Emulation facilitate app conversion, so your TE apps display flawlessly on a touchscreen interface right out of the box.
  • Secure connectivity channels for reliable communication
    The goal of a successful modernization strategy should be to unify the workforce current customer demands. Therefore, eliminating dead zones and dropped signals from your environment is crucial for optimization efforts. In addition to strengthening wireless infrastructures, consider leveraging push-to-talk features embedded within your mobile computer to erase the need for additional hardware and maintenance costs. For example, Workforce Connect enables group conferencing, secured text messaging, and emergency alerts, so your teams can stay updated of any sudden changes in demand like delayed shipments or shortages as it happens.

 

Knowing where to start

 

Intelligent modernization can take a variety of shapes. Consequently, experts recommend assessing main workflows in order to prioritize struggling operations. After starting your workflow assessment, it’s easier to procure technologies that address your specific goals while reducing the need for a mass device refresh, thus creating an simplistic yet adaptable modernization plan.

Zebra’s newest wearable computer has gained much attention for being the world’s smallest wrist-mounted computer. Lightweight and fully ergonomic, the device replicates many functions currently conducted by larger handheld computers, yet it brings unique benefits to specific applications. To best harness its features, businesses seeking to implement the WS50 should consider its top use cases. Developed to simplify data capture and sharing, the WS50 has seen the most proficiency in:

  • Retail markdowns – Shifts in demands can cause rapid price changes over shorter periods of time. Team members equipped with unbreakable data accessibility through wearable devices can quickly scan and verify inventory information without extra bulky devices or paper stock counts.
  • Task management – Operating with smaller workforces under constant labor turnover, warehouse teams require real-time task management that can prioritize in-need operations in real-time based on current workforce size. The WS50’s flexible connectivity features allows teams to update task assignments on the go for less unbroken productivity.
  • Warehouse order fulfillment – Encompassing over 50% of labor efforts, order fulfillment is the foundation of successful distribution. With customers demanding consistent accuracy rates within smaller delivery timeframes, automated picking, sorting, and loading hastens the fulfillment process while increasing throughput without overburdening your workforce. Mobile computing also curbs unnecessary travel since workers no longer need to check in with a centralized desktop to update reports.
  • Accuracy verification – Lastly, whether in the warehouse, in a storefront, or even in non-traditional settings such as food service and hospitality, the WS50’s intelligent scan engine provides higher accuracy rates by verifying product data without paper-based systems.

 

How is this different from a traditional handheld computer?

While the WS50 shares many similarities with leading mobile devices, its small size and wearable capabilities increase responsiveness since workers can be expected to be wearing their devices. Wearable technologies have consistently shown to be easier to adopt since they leverage natural human movement, ultimately empowering teams to…

  1. Cut down device management costs since the device already fulfills the role of a ring scanner
  2. Further connect teams through embedded push-to-talk features on a wearable band
  3. Customize mounting and applications to create a tailored wearable solution that’s easy to grasp by new hires.

 

The road to effective modernization can take many forms. While a hardware upgrade can be essential, sustainable efficiency is developed with tested expertise and solution support. To translate the benefits of the WS50 into your workflows, consider meeting up with one of our automation experts to pinpoint bottlenecks and optimization opportunities in your workflows.

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.

How Rugged Should Your Handheld Scanners Be?

Automated data capture is a business’ ticket to maximized accuracy and labor efficiency; however, to deliver realized benefits, your scanning device must be appropriately paired with your workflow. Under-performing scanners halt productivity with lower battery lifecycles and short-range scanning, but misused ultra-rugged scanners can be too complicated and bulky for mobile workers to use. Therefore, it is important for operations to first assess the ruggedness features in your desired scanner to enable:

  • Accurate asset tracking
  • Real-time inventory updates
  • Seamless order verification
  • Minimized data errors in your WMS
  • Connected field services

“What should I be looking for in my scanner upgrade?”

Coming from a long legacy of tested durability, Zebra’s enterprise-grade scanners have been constantly redefining the standards of modernized data capture. Whether you are looking for a general-purpose imager or a high-performing rugged scanner, consider the following:

  1. Data capture mechanism – Scanners can be categorized by whether they use a laser or imager to read barcodes. A laser scanner like Zebra’s L14278 is generally more cost-effective since it utilizes a red laser to read 1D black-and-white barcodes. Omnidirectional laser scanners eliminate the need for precise aiming, speeding up the scanning process. On the other hand, imaging technologies can capture the entire barcode in a digital image and decipher the information from both 1D and 2D barcodes. Intelligent PRZM scanners such as the DS4600 are more suitable for 2-D barcode applications in frontline operations.
  2.  IP rating and other durability measures – Outdoor and unique applications such as cold storage will require more than a higher IP rating. For example, Zebra’s DS3600 is equipped with an 8ft. drop spec, waterproof and dust-proof design, and 23% more durability than competing devices. For a more lightweight option that still survives in tougher industrial environments, the DS8100 is a viable option as it provides similar benefits in a more simplistic design.
  3. Connectivity options (hand-free or fixed-mount) – Hands-free scanners have overtaken the modern warehouse due to their ability to leverage natural muscle movement in the workflow to faster employee onboarding and data capture. Easy tap-and-pair in devices like the RS6000 facilitate total wearable solutions for increased productivity and picking accuracy. As for corded/fixed-mount images similar to Zebra’s DS457, these eliminate Bluetooth interference and possible battery depletion issues.
  4. Scanning speeds and distances – Fast-paced operations such as fulfilment for e-commerce count on quicker scanning speeds to avoid shipment delays. That’s where intelligent scanning applications such as SimulScan come handy with multiple barcode capture. As for scanning range, standard-range devices successfully grab information nearby without confusing devices. In contrast, intelligent long-range readers are designed to target barcodes up to 70ft, enabling safe scanning of products located on high racks and shelves.
  5. Battery performance – Lastly, enterprise-ready scanners should last beyond the standard 8-hour shift to prevent downtime from uncharged batteries. While individual scanners may come equipped with long-lasting batteries, Zebra’s PowerPrecision mitigates surprise downtime by enabling clear battery management for all deployed devices. That means your workers can verify devices were properly charged and are fit for a full shift before the day begins. 

To explore Zebra’s entire scanner portfolio, click here.

Make the upgrade with the GO Zebra Trade-In Program

Avalon facilitates your upgrade with the GO Zebra Trade-In Program. Simply purchase your upgraded scanner and submit your claim form within 90 days of the invoice date to trade-in devices from any manufacturer for cash rebates towards your upgrade.

No two mobility solutions are the same. That’s why we encourage meeting up with a modernization specialist to better pinpoint the data capture needs of your operations to best select a scanner fit for your goals.

In any given industry, workforce labor is both the biggest expense and the largest asset to a company. From the production floor to the retail storefront, your workforce keeps operations running smoothly to create a seamless supply chain. However, as demands continue to reshape the enterprise landscape, labor may not be appropriately distributed in the workspace. Whether it be in warehousing or retail, ill-distributed labor can lead to:

  • Higher turnover rates
  • Missed delivery dates 
  • Overlooked compliance codes and worker safety
  • Inaccurate order fulfillment 

To accommodate changing workforce sizes and evolving customer demands, several warehouses have turned to the popular and versatile modernization solution: RFID technology. 

What can RFID Bring to your Operations? 

According to Zebra’s 2019 Warehousing Vision Study, RFID technology was expected to grow by 6%, yet post-pandemic demands for both speed and safety have accelerated adoption in warehouses and retailers alike. Next-generation RFID solutions such as Zebra’s MotionWorks can expand operational visibility while increasing workforce productivity by…

  • Providing real-time operational visibility – Unlike conventional barcodes, RFID technology can be used to track in-motion inventory and assets all in real-time, providing you with a clear view of where your workforce is at any given time. 
  • Complying with worker safety protocols – New worker safety initiatives such as Zebra’s MotionWorks Proximity allows you to trace exposure risks and integrate social distancing protocols into your handheld device by tracking high-density workspaces in real-time. 
  • Tracking labor-intensive workflows – When demand increases suddenly as it normally does for peak holiday seasons, RFID data capture can help track intensive workflows and guide employees through multiple pick paths at once, eliminating superfluous wait times. 

See how Zebra’s Savanna does it all and more in our video

Whether you’re tracking assets, inventory, or your workforce, expect dependable visibility when you optimize operations with Avalon. Contact our automation experts today for a free evaluation of your workflow to get started. 

From retail to field services, frontline workers are crucial to business success as they best represent brand competency and commitment to quality customer service. However, research suggests that this important segment is often overlooked during optimization opportunities, an issue that directly contributes to high labor turnover and expensive rehiring costs exceeding $5,000 per lost employee. In addition to high rehiring costs, disconnected frontline workers can lead to:

  • Impacted brand representation
  • Wasted resources such as fuel, packaging, and labor hours
  • Employee dissatisfaction
  • Slower customer support, deliveries, and maintenance reports
  • Overlooked worker safety concerns

To minimize these effects without completely restructuring your digital framework, Avalon partners with Zebra Technologies to introduce a seamless way to empower frontline teams in the most demanding environments. 

Rise up to any challenge with Workforce Connect. Watch our video to see how:

From the production floor to the front of the store, your whole supply chain operates as a team to ensure business continuity. That’s why Workforce Connect breaks through barriers in order to unify teams with greater operational visibility, real-time communication, and clear task organization. Deploy Zebra’s push-to-talk software on your enterprise-grade mobile device to create a scalable communication solution that connects the whole team on one platform. 

By simply strengthening communication channels within the workspace, you can foster new optimization opportunities such as:

  • Hardware reduction – Save on operational costs by streamlining data capture, computing, and communication into one device, eliminating two-way radios and extra maintenance services. 
  • Real-time task assignments – Notify teams of immediate changes in the workflow without disrupting operations and manage task completion to certify action was taken properly.
  • Ensured worker security – Amplify workflow visibility to pinpoint safety issues and disperse your workforce, mitigating accidents and risks in the warehouse and on the road.
  • Customer-centered order tracking – Provide your customers with real-time updates on their order’s status to meet new consumer expectations.
  • Appropriate hand-free communication for drivers – Integrate voice commands for calls and text messages in your fleet, so drivers can remain connected without taking their eyes off the road.
  • Actionable insights delivered on your handheld – Track delivery reporting, location history, dispatch interferences, and more through one interface set on your mobile device to facilitate data sharing and analytics. 

See how Workforce Connect enhances more than the warehouse when you download our brochure. 

Flexible and adaptable to your needs, Workforce Connect can be implemented on any of Zebra’s dependable enterprise devices. Reach out to our automation experts today to learn how you can deploy Workforce Connect in your current technologies and connect your frontline workers with a communication solution crafted to empower the workforce. 

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.

As one of the most demanding and customer-centric sectors of business, retail often involves a great deal of direct-contact services, potentially exposing both customers and employees to harmful pathogens in high-density areas. Furthermore, because most shoppers still prefer to touch products before purchase, pathogens may also be spread via high-touch surfaces. Lastly, as businesses begin to regrow, device sharing may also become ever more common, further contributing to germ spread. While there may still be weeks before most retail stores officially welcome shoppers, it’s not too early to start planning and developing a reliably thorough infection control system. 

Generating over one trillion dollars in 2017, the retail sector has become a crucial contributor to the U.S. economy, yet after facing one of the biggest health challenges of our time, it’s only natural that customers will expect more from the retail business. Valuing both the employee and customer experience, Avalon Integration is already working with leading manufacturers and innovators in gathering the best resources to help you get ready for opening day.

Open for Business – Not Germs

Open for Business with Disinfection

Open for Business Not for Germs

When creating an infection control system that adapts into the customer-focused retail landscape, combine the power of human intelligence with automated reliability by:

  • Setting time aside for proper disinfection – Just like grocery stores have separated large amounts of time to clean and restock, retail stores can implement similar procedures. Moreover, cleaning procedures should be implemented within workflows as devices are shared between associates.
  • Dedicating labor efforts to oversight – With multiple touch-points spread throughout retail stores, close oversight may be necessary to prevent missed sanitation and cleaning cycles. Further secure sanitation cycles with automated disinfection technologies such as Proximity’s UV-Clean which kills bacteria and records sanitation cycles for future auditing.
  • Choosing committed flexibility – Adaptable to your workspace, UV-Clean’s different mounting options bring the power of ultraviolet disinfection to even the smallest space, eradicating 99.99% of bacteria in under 5 minutes, restoring devices into your workforce’s hands as quick as possible to maximize uptime.

See how UV light stands against germs when you download our infographic.

Not sure where to start? Contact Avalon Integration for a free assessment of your infection control technology and safeguard your employees and customers with solutions built for maximum productivity and safety. 

Within the past decade, new research and manufacturing policies have brought environmental concerns to the forefront of consumers’ attention. Results from the CGS 2019 U.S. Consumer Sustainability Survey show that 68% of today’s consumers see sustainability as a deciding factor in whether or not to purchase a product. In 2019, products labeled sustainable accounted for as much as $114 billion in revenue, a 29% increase compared to 2013. From product assembly to shipping methods, there are several ways companies can integrate sustainability into their supply chain. However, while it may be tempting for companies to label products as sustainable, the Federal Trade Commission deals heavy fines for misleading and/or inaccurate labels. 

In our commitment to both the environment and operational efficiency, Avalon Integration investigates new technologies and their benefits beyond the warehouse. Among these technologies, RFID tracking stands as one of the most promising resources in establishing sustainable practices with the supply chain. By providing true real-time visibility, RFID equips you with actionable intelligence into every detail of your operation to reduce environmental impact.

Creating the Green Warehouse, One Tag at a Time

MC3390R Green Sustainable Warehouse

MC3390R Being Used in a Sustainable Green Warehouse

Before choosing any particular RFID solution, it is important to consider tag composition and durability. Because they will face several sorts of environments even after application, RFID tags should be designed with strength in mind. Like is quality consumables, Zebra’s RFID tags are tested for continuous performance on a wide range of surfaces, so you do more than just can track more than inventory.

  • Manage inventory to prevent overstocking – A common issue in the retail industry, overproduction can lead to wastefulness and product depreciation. By managing processed goods in real-time, companies can regulate assembly speed to match the market demand.
  • Minimize unnecessary and inefficient transportation labor – Inaccurate orders require labor and money to rectify. RFID readers can verify loaded shipments to prevent unnecessary truck deliveries and additional CO2 emissions.
  • Implement additional policies with greater visibility – Since RFID technology can provide a full overview of warehouse activity, gathered intelligence can be used to pinpoint bottlenecks, extraneous energy usage, and wasted storage space.

But RFID isn’t the only technology revolutionizing supply chains. Catch an up-close look of 2020s most prominent technologies at MODEX 2020 and join Avalon in exploring the next generation of efficient technology. 

When it comes to lessening environmental impacts, small changes can go a long way. To see how RFID can enhance your operations, contact us for an in-depth assessment of your current workflow.

On June 19th, 2018, the United States Patent and Trademark Office issued its 10 millionth patent, testifying a nation’s commitment to innovation and technological advancements. From the overarching internet to self-driving cars, technology has advanced to deliver innovation to virtually every industry worldwide — all in less than 30 years. Facing what’s been coined as the 4th Industrial Revolution, Avalon Integration has partnered with Zebra Technologies to provide groundbreaking technology that shatters through pre-established industry boundaries.

Here to set an unparalleled standard, the TC57 fits multiple use cases, serving as one of the most versatile devices in the industrial market to date. Adaptable form the inside out, this all-touch computer continuously increases productivity in and out of the four walls, which begs the question…where does it fit? 

Where in the World is the TC57?

Equipped with rugged ergonomics and an intuitive platform, the TC57 can be integrated into almost any dynamic workflow with minimal infrastructure changes, streamlining operations in…

  • Extreme Conditions — Sporting military-grade durability, the TC57 is equipped with a rugged exterior that endures harsh temperatures, humidity, and drops up to 6ft. Zebra’s fortified Android delivers the ultimate processing power while securing OS updates that future-proof your device. Lastly, it’s best-in-class 5 in. display delivers maximized readability perfect for graphic-intensive applications in any lighting condition. Protected with Corning Gorilla Glass, the glove-friendly touchscreen remains fully operational when wet.

    TC57 Extreme Conditions Workflow

    TC57 Extreme Conditions Workflow

  • In Remote Places — Supporting carrier aggregation, the TC57 ensures network connectivity through multiple networking channels.  With WorryFree WiFi, devices can stay connected and running during your on-the-move operations.

    TC57 Remote Places Workflow

    TC57 Remote Places Workflow

  • In Overwhelming Landscapes — Supply chains have become increasingly more dynamic in and out of the warehouse. Running on an open ecosystem, the TC57 gathers Zebra’s best Mobility DNA applications as well as long-range data capture to maximize productivity. Capture barcodes multiple barcodes as far as 70ft with one trigger-pull and omnidirectional scanning.

    TC57 Overwhelming Landscapes Workflow

    TC57 Overwhelming Landscapes Workflow

And with Avalon Integration, integrating the latest upgrades in mobile computing is seamless and affordable. From now till December 31st, upgrade your technology with the GO Zebra Trade-In Program. Get cash-back rebates when you swap out legacy devices from any manufacturer for the newest generation of efficient technology.

Technology is advancing fast, and the TC57 is just one of many next-evolution devices available. Navigate through a new landscape of opportunities when you contact us for more information on how the TC57 and other devices can innovate your production workflow.