The New Year is here! Are technology changes on your calendar?

Visibility is perhaps the most business-critical issue in manufacturing and warehousing today. You need easily accessible, real-time data across your supply chain. With the growth of warehouses (both in number and size), the soaring number of SKUs you’re juggling, and the squeeze on your profit margins, you can’t allow any weak links to exist in your supply chain.

At Informs, we’re looking ahead at the view of visibility in 2018 and the manufacturing technology trends—and how our customers can benefit from making change. It’s not just about the rapid ROI you gain but repairing the profit leaks from outdated systems and technology.

Here’s what we’re seeing for the year ahead.


      • An even greater increase in the deployment of advanced mobile technology. Rugged mobile devices—handheld computers, tablets, scanners, imagers, thermal printers—will replace consumer-grade devices. Employers are discovering that the cost of replacing personal smartphones and tablets that last less than a year is too high. Plus, they need enterprise-grade features—like better data and network security, device management, and data capture—that only purpose-built, commercial grade technology can deliver.


      • Real-time tracking is not optional. A Zebra study reported that 63% of manufacturers surveyed are planning to upgrade to technology-driven tracking in the next five years, to improve real-time visibility; 60% of warehouses responded that they are moving to real-time location tracking by 2022, a 25% jump from 2017.


      • Wearables are in fashion. Every motion contributes to the bottom line cost. Equipping pickers, for example, with wearable computing technology (wrist terminal, ring scanner, computer headset) is proven to deliver ROI. A VDC Research study showed 85% of warehouses surveyed are planning to integrate wearables to increase employee productivity.


      • Multi-modal is also a hot topic. Voice-directed picking (VDP) provide an advantage over manual picking, but multi-modal speech-directed solutions provide even greater results. VDP users require the direction to be repeated 381% more often and have an error rate that’s 63% higher than multi-modal system users.


      • RFID and IoT deliver substantial ROI. The connected factory works more efficiently, with better communication, fewer delays and errors, and reduced downtime. Using both technologies enables lean manufacturing processes. Smart sensors alert operators to potential problems, like equipment failures and replenishment needs, so that they can be proactively managed. RFID enables workers to manage inventory from inbound to outbound. With RFID-enabled vehicle-mounted computers, forklift operators can work continuously, without stopping, starting, and getting in and out of the vehicle.


    This continued shift toward maximizing efficiency and accuracy is not a trend as much as it is an initiative. Technology continues to evolve to empower manufacturers and warehouse operations to work smarter. Informs is staying ahead of these changes, and we can help you navigate your business technology to capitalize on the many benefits. Contact us to talk about your current situation and your vision of 2018.