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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.

When operating in today’s fast-paced supply chains, one hour of inefficiency can result in incalculable losses such as missed sales, shipment delays, data breaches, and maintenance costs. As warehouses continue to automate repetitive tasks such as data entry and order verification, a new issue arises: where do legacy systems fit in modernized warehouse operations? Legacy devices may seem more comfortable at face value due to their familiarity; however, their complex workflows may enable costly downtime.   

In the transportation and logistics industry, where over 40% of businesses still rely on paper-and-pencil manual data entry, legacy systems have been directly linked to as much as 14 hours of downtime per worker, per month, worldwide. Unable to support remote device management or real-time connectivity, incapacitated legacy systems can bring operations to a grinding halt. To undo these issues, modern mobility and visibility systems like the ones built with Zebra’s next-generation technologies can harness competitive benefits such as: 

  • Simplified enterprise-grade interfaces – Legacy systems tend to be preferred solely on their familiarity. Employee training and long adoption rates can be costly. That’s why Android’s enterprise-ready operating systems retain the ease-of-use of a consumer-grade touchscreen interface on a purpose-built device to lower onboarding time. Furthermore, Zebra’s All-Touch Terminal Emulation app can convert TE green screens into a touchscreen interface right out of the box to further minimize training times.  
  • Minimized additional hardware – Newer devices such as Zebra’s MC9300 streamline several crucial workflows within one platform, enabling workers to scan and process data while updating databases and teams in real-time without any manual data entry. Mobile devices with embedded push-to-talk capabilities can further simplify workflows by eliminating the need for extra bulky two-way radios.  
  • Expanded device functionality – Lastly, Android’s open application ecosystem facilitates new application deployment to expand your device’s functionality without too many backend modifications. For example, Zebra’s MobilityDNA apps enable remote battery management, device tracking, simultaneous barcode data capture, and independent troubleshooting for maximized uptime all through one device.   

And, with the GO Zebra Trade-In Program, you can add cash back rebates to the list. 

Further amplify modernization benefits when you upgrade legacy systems through the GO Zebra Trade-In Program. Between now and December 31st, your upgrades qualify for cash back rebates up to $650 per device when you follow these three steps: 

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

In our commitment to innovative efficiency, we strive to eliminate all unnecessary complexities from your modernization strategy. Contact an Avalon automation expert to explore a customized optimization plan that matches your needs and preserves familiarity for minimal disruptions.  

employment retention blog image

The first half of 2021 has been marked by an ever-dwindling workforce across multiple industries. From foodservice to warehousing, businesses have struggled to attract and retain skilled employees due to growing issues such as greater job options, requests for higher wages, and limited childcare opportunities. While warehouses are slowly regaining numbers, transportation and logistics firms may still face greater demands with the end-of-year e-commerce boom brought on by the holiday season. With delivery timeframes expected to shrink even more and high turnover rates, T&L businesses find themselves with the challenge of accelerating order processing without overwhelming current employees. To do so, field teams have adopted the following strategies:

  1. Streamline operations through one consolidated workflow – Individual devices incur individual costs such as maintenance, software, and replacement fees. Moreover, new employees must then learn to operate several devices quickly to maintain productivity levels, further increasing training costs. Newer mobile computers such as Zebra’s TC72/77 reduce costs by streamlining computing, data capture, and communication channels into one device. This reduces training times and operational costs as employees only need to grow accustomed to one device.  
  2. Track worker safety to prevent more understaffing issues – Worker safety both in and outside the four walls continues to be a deciding factor when it comes to employment retention. That’s why exposure awareness systems have become increasingly more popular as they allow transparent traceability of possible germ exposure. Moreover, on the field, secured connectivity systems like Zebra Workforce Connect enable hands-free communication with warehouses in real-time, preventing accidents and facilitating precise driver locationing and delivery status through one interface.
  3. Remove paper-based reporting for zero-wait data sharing – Unlike pen-and-paper inventory management, modernized data capture preserves team connections by facilitating instant data sharing through one centralized database. In doing so, warehouses can update delivery teams of order volume, changes in ETA, and routing changes without delay.
  4. Minimize touchpoints between loading and shipping – Contactless transactions have gained popularity across the supply chain due to their speed and safety. RFID technology has led the forefront in minimizing extra touchpoints by capturing multiple barcodes in one scan and tracking in-motion inventory for maximized visibility. 

Optimizing scalable efficiency can take many shapes depending on your operation’s current struggles. Get a clearer picture on how to start safeguarding productivity in your workflows when you schedule an in-depth assessment and stay a step ahead of change with a modernization solution that adjusts to your needs.

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.