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Rising to meet today's logistics challenges

October 18th, 2018
The role of the warehouse is changing. But operating across multiple channels – retail, catalogue and Internet – creates a new set of logistical challenges.

No longer just a space to store inventory, today’s warehouse operation is fast-paced and often decentralised. Inventory turns faster than ever as retailers and manufacturers try to keep up with consumer demands.

Customers today expect to be able to place an order through any channel and either receive overnight delivery to their home or business, or pick the order up at a local collection point the next day. In order to manage the increase in the volume of smaller, individual orders that must be accurately picked and shipped out the same day, warehouse operations need to be incredibly agile.

To gain this agility, many warehouses will be considering investing in mobile devices. From mobile computers in the hands of staff to the wireless Wi-Fi networks and RFID infrastructure that enable workers to access business data in every inch of the warehouse, mobility is key to increased productivity, accuracy and the ability to exceed customers’ expectations.

However, new track and trace regulations have been instituted in a wide variety of industries, further complicating warehousing and distribution by requiring:

  • ‘Farm to fork’ traceability in the food and beverage industry
  • A complete genealogy in pharmaceuticals to protect against the introduction of counterfeit product that could compromise patient safety
  • Constant visibility into the whereabouts of the millions of parts used to build cars, trucks, planes and other vehicles to enable fast location, recall and replacement of defective parts.

Meanwhile, new standards have arrived, such as the GS1 barcode, which embeds more information about products to help with traceability and provides consistent product identifiers as products travel from stop to stop, helping further streamline and error-proof entire supply chains.

This means that warehouses need to be lean, nimble and ready for anything. BlueStar partner Zebra can help with a number of cost-effective solutions that help to achieve these goals by improving accuracy and efficiency.

Zebra’s Mobile Warehouse Portfolio provides the real-time information and advanced data capture features needed to automate many processes, driving time, errors and operational costs out of the warehouse – and profitability into the business.

Warehouse Management System (WMS) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems help to deliver electronic work orders to workers around the warehouse who can add updates in real-time. Barcode scanning provides invaluable error proofing for task accuracy and automatic collection of the information about each item – from expiration date to batch number.

The result of using this new technology is that existing staff can handle a major increase in volume, yet still meet order and picking accuracy requirements. And without impacting throughput, warehouse managers can collect all the information needed to achieve regulatory compliance, along with the visibility to better manage inventory.




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