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The rapid changes in mobile devices create many additional opportunities to increase efficiency in warehousing and distribution, even though manufacturers and distributors have been among the earliest users of mobile technology. Mobility enables greater communications and collaboration resulting in increased productivity through more efficient processes and better data. Where business models rely on rapid inventory turns, tight schedules and thin margins, mobile technology is especially effective.
Mobile devices like radio frequency hand-held devices and bar code scanners have been used successfully in inventory management for some time to provide real-time information and product tracking. However, there is great opportunity in supply chain management to conduct business processes with mobile technology as well. Mobile devices and a system like Accellos WMS or Sage 300 WMS can be used across the entire supply chain from the front to the back of the warehouse.
- Receiving: Capture inventory data from the point that it arrives in the dock. Incoming shipments can be automatically verified against purchase orders and instructions sent to an employee’s mobile device
- Storage: Putaway is expedited by the system providing the best path to the right storage location or outbound location. Maintain visibility without the use of a paper trail
- Inventory Control: Replenishment is facilitated by hand-held mobile devices. Requests can be handled in seconds and workers directed to the right location by the quickest route
- Order Fulfillment: Picking operations are made more efficient with accurate order and storage information
- Packaging: Packaging operations can be automatic with error-free order validation
- Shipping: Shipments can be scanned, verified and staged for the proper truck
Recently, we discussed how using enterprise resource planning systems can help improve inventory control, planning and optimization. In addition, using mobile technology with a warehouse management system (WMS) like Accellos WMS and Sage 300 provides many benefits by automating and integrating processes to keep your entire company aligned and running smoothly.
- A mobile ERP will save costs and improve efficiency. Mobile data collection sends real-time data into your ERP system eliminating manual entry and reporting errors. Better data mean better inventory management and efficiency which in turn lead to lower costs and higher profitability
- Using mobile technology will result in improved performance and greater customer satisfaction. When you update and change information as it happens, replacing manually-intensive inventory processes, you can create value-added services and a seamless consumer buying experience.
Of course, there are challenges in implementing mobile technology to increase efficiencies in warehousing and distribution.
- Devices may not be made for the abuse of a warehouse environment. In some cases, more rugged devices will be needed. Careful selection and research need to go into choosing the right technology for each process. Next-generation tablets and smartphones offer a number of advantages especially in cost, integration with other business systems, and the ability to visually communicate information
- Technology costs can be inhibitors for small to mid-sized companies. However, in many cases, personal mobile devices offer a cheaper solution to RFID devices or other rugged devices, especially in remote locations. Web-based software models can also offer cost-savings
- Mobile technology requires a cultural shift. With a mobile ERP, managers can move out of their offices and onto the warehouse floor. They can roam the aisles with their devices and have access to information for real-time decision-making. As employees become more comfortable with technology in their personal lives, they will be able to make the shift
As you can see, mobile technology will continue to impact warehousing and distribution as technology changes and becomes more inexpensive. Please contact us to learn more about using mobile technology with Accellos WMS or Sage 300 WMS.