Managing a modern warehouse

Change is as good as a holiday and if you want your warehousing strategies to stand out then it’s time to evolve. With innovative technologies like long range scanning, 2D bar coding and mobile scanning there is no reason why your warehouse need be left in the dust of your competitors, rife with inefficiency and human error.


2D Barcode

Historically, the preferred technology in warehousing has been laser scanners because of their accuracy, speed and ability to read at long range. However 2-dimensional barcodes have been used more frequently of late. Traditional use of 1-dimensional barcodes is slowly falling away as enterprises are seeing that 2D barcoding is more accurate, more efficient and more robust in warehouse processes. 


The 2D symbol was introduced in the early 1990s but only became more widely adopted in the 2000s. Unlike its predecessor the 2D barcode offers an enterprise a large storage capacity, which means that information that, was previously stored in the centralised database is now encoded on the barcode itself.


The extremely compact 2D symbol can store over 4000 alphanumeric characters and includes useful information like an item’s serial number, lot information and time stamp. This nifty little symbol makes warehousing a breeze with its stack of black and white squares in various patterns that multiply its informational capacity without increasing its footprint too much. These barcodes, with their inherent error correction and detection algorithms are rather resilient. Some 2D barcodes that are seen frequently in warehouse applications include: Data Matrix, PDF417, QR Code and Aztec.


Over the years, the technologies available for decoding barcodes have improved and expanded along with the advancements in warehousing processes. Laser scanners have been a mainstay for the automated warehouse but as businesses seek to accommodate 2D symbols they will turn to imagers that can read 1D and 2D codes as well as easily decode symbols in direct sunlight.


Motorola Rugged Barcode Scanners

Your warehouses’ effectiveness can seriously impact all aspects of your supply chain, business health and profitability. If you are still relying upon paper processes, your employees are wasting valuable time reconciling incoming and outgoing shipments on paper forms, printing out picking orders and manually entering data into the business systems. Not only are you unnecessarily killing trees in an environmentally conscious generation but you are also inserting time, cost and the opportunity for error into your daily warehouse operations.


Motorola has provided a range of high-performance rugged barcode scanners that allow you to choose the scanner that is perfect for the job, from corded scanners connected to your work stations to cordless scanners that can be tethered to a vehicle-mounted mobile computer. These scanners provide an innovative solution for the next generation warehouse that will make your warehouse processes easier allowing for near range scanning or scanning on the uppermost shelf of your tallest warehouse rack.


With Motorola’s rugged 2D imagers shipments will be reconciled instantly, items will be placed on the right shelf during put-away, the correct items are always picked to fulfil orders and shipments are placed on the correct trucks. Your operation is stripped of time and cost, making you warehouse leaner and able to increase throughput without increasing staff. These imagers have a variety of features including: scanning from a variety of ranges, support of every type of bar code, corded and cordless styles and a unique design with a display window that supports more information-intensive warehouses.


Improve warehousing with mobile printing  

According to Zebra Technologies, barcoding and radio frequency identification (RFID) systems are indispensable when it comes to maintaining efficiency and accuracy in warehouses and distribution centres. Enterprises can enhance these benefits by using mobile printers to produce and attach barcode and RFID labels at the point of application. By supplementing stationery barcode and RFID printing with mobile printing there will be reduced operator errors, streamlined operations associated with labelling in convenient locations and elimination of costs associated with error correction.


Mobile printers can boost productivity through eliminating the distance that drivers waste travelling to pick up labels, often providing a full return on investment (ROI) in less than a year when used in warehouse, distribution centre and other industrial environments. For facilities with existing wireless LANs, ROI is especially strong because a small investment in mobile printers creates new ways to increase efficiency, leverage the wireless infrastructure investment and reduce operator errors.


Take your warehouse another step forward toward becoming a Next Generation Warehouse with a mobile printing solution that delivers real results. Mobile and wireless printers can transform warehouse processes by improving receiving dock productivity, advancing quality assurance tasks, streamlining cross docking, simplifying putaway and picking tasks, completing packing faster and fulfilling and tracking ship-to-order operations.


The bottom line here is that technology is moving forward and so should your warehouse. Whether you do so by implementing 2D barcoding, high-performance scanning or mobile printing, it is your responsibility to ensure that your warehouse processes change with the times – or you will get left behind.


By Lenny Naicker at Westcon Mobility Solutions


About Westcon

Westcon is a leading value-added distributor of technology and converged communications solutions for customers in the enterprise, SMB and consumer markets, in South Africa and 26 countries on the African continent. The company is made up of six business practices which include: Comstor (Cisco business), Comztek Consumer Solutions, Westcon Communications Solutions, Westcon Mobility Solutions, Westcon Security Solutions which includes an electronic and data division and Comztek Software Solutions. The Comztek Africa business deploys the solutions across all these practices into the African market. 

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