In today’s competitive environment, a company’s success rests squarely on the effectiveness of its supply chain. An effective supply chain requires fast transactions and accurate inventory, making a complete professional-grade labeling solution a must‑have. A complete professional labeling solution means the company has hardware that suits its environment, the right type of labels it needs, and software that makes printing the right labels effortless.
You might ask, “why is the labeling solution such a critical component?” The answer is simple. In order to be successful today, you simply must have an extremely efficient operation. From a competitive standpoint, it’s critical; if your competitor can get product out the door fast and efficiently, then you need to be doing the same. If you’re not using barcode automation in the warehouse, distribution center or manufacturing floor, you’re already a few steps behind. To take that first step, find a solution provider who understands your business and has proven success in your industry. The next step is to educate yourself on the benefits of implementing a labeling solution like a pro:
Simplified Compliance. A professional labeling solution makes label changes easier and helps ensure compliance. Centralized management portals and remote maintenance make it easy to update label formats or add newly required information. This helps the company avoid costly recalls and expensive fines. Don’t risk losing business due to non-compliant labeling.
Greater Supply Chain Efficiency. Accurate and fast transaction processing are keys to supply chain efficiency, and clearly-printed barcode labels are the cornerstone of any transaction processing system. Using barcode labels increases accuracy by preventing data entry mistakes, incorrect picking or shipping mishaps. Barcode scanning is a much faster and accurate alternative to manual processes, so worker productivity benefits from an automated process as well.
Branding Standards. A professional labeling solution has a better chance of producing clearly-printed, correctly issued labels; companies often rely on pre-printed labels, which can be quite costly and unreliable in terms of supply. You want your labeling to properly reflect your brand – which means you want the label to look the same every time it’s printed. This includes your logo, certifications, trademarks, patents and critical information about the item being labeled. This ensures consistency from unit to unit and makes in-house transactions faster. It also helps supply chain partners become more productive since they know what to expect from your label. Professional-grade labels also help make counterfeiting harder and more visible if it occurs, so it is easier to identify and stop.
Business Continuity and Risk Mitigation. A professional-grade labeling solution allows you to shift production from one location to another without excessive downtime or reconfiguration. Label templates can be loaded remotely to printers in other locations in the plant or even in another plant altogether, ensuring that production and shipments continue and that product continues to be labeled properly regardless of any interruptions.
Better Flexibility and Responsiveness. Professional labeling solutions offer multi-language capabilities and simple label changes that workers can make easily—even on the fly. This allows you to offer customized labels to customers in other regions or to customers with unique branding requirements of their own.
Enhanced Collaboration and Communication. Your entire supply chain depends on the accuracy of your labeling, so centralized label control and professional grade printed labels help to ensure supply chain efficiency and accuracy as your goods move from node to node. This prevents rework or shipping errors that may occur due to labeling errors, and it reduces the risk of counterfeit goods entering the supply chain. As a result, your company enjoys lower costs and higher potential revenues.
You don’t have to invest a lot in order to gain the operating efficiency and productivity benefits of a complete labeling system. If you’re spending a lot of time and money on labeling logistics in your business, consider speaking with a solution provider who is an expert in the industry. Not sure who to contact? Try us! We can give you plenty of examples of the improvements businesses have made by making the switch to a solution that best suits their needs.
As companies release new products or make enhancements to existing products, they often retire the old versions and the legacy product goes ‘end-of-life’ (EOL). Just because a company releases an updated version of something you already own doesn’t mean the existing product has no utility. It does mean it’s time to start thinking about what the newer technology offers and whether it makes sense for your business to upgrade.
Getting the Most from Your Old Products
Before deciding whether to upgrade or stay with your existing version, talk to your reseller to understand the benefits the newer version provides. Don’t forget to factor in the possibility of trading in your old device, and ask about any ongoing promotions or incentives being offered if you purchase the next gen product. Then be sure to conduct a cost justification analysis, to validate the expense of purchasing replacement product before making a final decision.
If you have a year of support services prepaid on your existing model, determine the best time to make your move. If it’s a technology product that’s more than five years old, the newer device will likely offer greater operating efficiency. You’ll also want to compare specifications (speed, reliability and new features) which may easily outweigh any cost advantage of keeping an old device in service.
Create a Plan
You should always have a replacement and service strategy plan in place for critical devices. This can help ensure you are getting the best ROI for your device investment without introducing undue risks of downtime or service interruptions. It can also help prevent wasting money on the “next big thing” while you still have useful life in your existing devices. Here are three steps to create a good technology replacement strategy.
Always have a replacement plan for technology refreshes for critical devices. Don’t wait until products go EOL to decide. Understand the typical life cycle of your devices, and balance the costs of maintaining existing devices with the replacement costs so you know the right replacement cycle for your needs. The earlier in a product’s life cycle you make this plan, the easier it will be to time the replacement for optimum ROI and utility and to ensure you have budget available when needed. Be sure to connect all the dots in your solution in order to properly budget expenses of any equipment purchases you’ll need to make.
For your most critical devices, you may want to consider a service contract. The more complex the device, the more important it is to have service coverage. For mobile computers, a service contract helps protect your investment and your overall budget by ensuring that repair and maintenance costs are predictable. Most service contracts also include preventive maintenance, so this option can help extend the useful life of your devices while protecting your cash flow from unexpected demands.
If your existing products are operating efficiently, you may want to extend any existing service contracts rather than introduce new products to your facility. Extending contracts ensures you receive all the utility you paid for when you bought your devices and can maximize return on investment (ROI). A service contract keeps the unit in good working condition, particularly contracts that include software updates, which may extend the average life of the device.
A Real Life Example
Honeywell has announced that its CK71 handheld computer will be entering the end of life stage on December 30, 2017. The CK75 is the replacement model. Some factors to consider:
Honeywell has announced that it will continue to provide service for the CK71 for some time into the future. Keep these dates in mind to ensure your new plan is in place before then.
The CK75 is smaller, lighter and more rugged than its predecessor, so it will help your team be more efficient.
The CK75 also runs both Windows® Embedded and Android™, so it offers protection from OS life cycles.
The barcode scanner on the CK75 offers superior accuracy and speed, so your team can operate more efficiently with fewer errors or rescans.
The decision to replace an end-of-life product is not easy. It helps to consult with an experienced reseller who understands the products, your application, and the advantages a next generation product can offer. If you’re looking for a recommendation or just looking for a market update on the technology being used to maximize productivity in your industry, contact us today.
Rugged devices are mission critical in a tough environment, like manufacturing, warehousing, distribution, and transportation and logistics. Between the bumps, drops, and tumbles on hard surfaces to exposure to extreme temperatures, hardware like barcode scanners needs to be tougher than the conditions where they’re used.
Zebra has long been known for rugged reliability for barcode scanners, thermal printers, mobile computers, and other enterprise technology. So, it was a bit of surprise when they introduced something even tougher than the rugged barcode scanners that have served their purpose admirably.
The Zebra 3600 Ultra-Rugged Series of barcode scanners raises the bar once again. These power tools manage to surpass any standard. Drop a 3600 in a bucket of water (and leave it there for up to 30 minutes) or spray it with a hose. Use it in searing heat or freezing cold. Drop it 8 feet onto a concrete floor. It will keep working. Zebra’s Ultra-Rugged barcode scanners are the only ones with two sealing ratings: IP65 and IP67 (and the only barcode scanner with an IP67 rating).
Yes, it’s tough, but the 3600 is also a top performer. Use it to scan scratched, dirty, or damaged barcodes with one click. You can even capture barcodes under shrinkwrap or frost. This indestructible workhorse also lets you capture up to 20 barcodes with one pull of the trigger—from a few inches away or up to 70 feet—and one battery charge is good for about 70,000 scans. So, the 3600 Ultra-Rugged scanners are incredibly efficient.
The Zebra 3600 Ultra-Rugged barcode scanners are available in a wide variety of models, both corded and cordless (with Bluetooth 4.0 lightning speed). You can choose from standard range, extended range, high density, and direct part marks (DPM).
See the full range of Zebra barcode scanners here:
When you need more than rugged barcode scanners, talk to us at Informs about Zebra’s 3600 Ultra-Rugged Series.