To keep a distribution center running smoothly, managers look to technology to help maximize efficiencies and solve recurring problems. As these tools—both hardware and software—proliferate, it can be a challenge to decide which will be the best fit.
Make the best selections for your business by opting for tools that address these five considerations:
Hardware used in a warehouse should optimize the time and productivity of staff across multiple departments. Find devices that work for different areas of the distribution center and different steps in the process.
Finding the right devices that can adapt to picking, packing and shipping stations can help stop human error, eliminate wasted time and prevent injuries.
- Barcode and RFID readers to automate data collection when picking and packing
- Hands-free scanners to streamline inventory management when stocking shelves
- Adaptable mounting systems to hold devices whether on a vehicle or where inventory is kept
Devices should also be outfitted to last against the elements. Distribution centers can undergo drastic shifts in temperature, and tools might be exposed to dust, debris or water.
- Protective cases to put another layer between devices and accidents
- Sunlight-readable displays to defeat glare and make screens readable anywhere
- IP65 rating or higher to protect against damaging particles
An Ingress Protection (IP) rating shows how well a product can withstand certain elements, with 1 being least able to withstand and 10 being most able. The first number represents the rating for solids and the second number represents the rating for liquids.
Employees need quick, simple and secure ways to utilize shipping systems and tools. Cut down on redundancies and wasted time by eliminating writing and typing.
- Voice-enabled technology to increase productivity throughout your processes
- Integrated software that cuts out repetition of information across systems
- Biometric devices to securely connect employees to systems
Biometrics incorporates fingerprint scanning, face recognition and other voice or behavioral identification so your employees can access systems in less time.
Warehouse management systems (WMS) should be as flexible as any other internal tool. Choose a web-based Software as a Service (SaaS) subscription for quick onboarding and agile adjustments as your business scales.
SaaS models deliver web-based programs through the cloud. As your company grows, subscriptions can, too, which eliminates the need to buy into a totally new WMS.
- Low monthly fees to cut down on initial entry cost
- Dynamic features to improve your WMS functionality as your business grows and your needs change
- The latest technology to help you stay competitive
In-house software should track and measure data to maximize efficiency. Use programs that help forecast demand and sales to optimize warehouse performance.
- Programs that integrate with existing systems to avoid technical glitches that can hinder analysis
- Data tracking to show changes and patterns which help find areas for streamlining
Tracking actions, such as how often items are picked from a certain bin, can help your company forecast sales and keep the right inventory in stock.
Focus on these considerations to better outfit and optimize your shipping process. Finding tools that help enable these benefits can help streamline your warehouse operations and set up your business for success.