Even though RFID gets a lot of attention, many companies are unclear about the benefits they will enjoy by using RFID. Here are a few key ways to use RFID tags and scanners to improve productivity, efficiency, and accuracy in industrial environments such as warehousing, manufacturing or distribution.
Check-In / Check-Out Tooling and Jigs
Most industrial environments strive to reduce or eliminate downtime, so it can be disruptive and frustrating when necessary tooling, fixtures, jigs and required supplies aren’t readily available when it’s time for a setup. Using RFID tags on tooling helps ensure you always know where it is. Scanners at the entrance of the tool crib automatically track when tooling leaves the area, and barcode scanners can locate the missing item if it was not returned after its last use.
Rapid location of missing items helps reduce or eliminate delays in setup, decreasing unnecessary downtime and increasing production throughput.
Using RFID tags on inventory streamlines every aspect of inventory management. For example, you may be able to perform a complete physical inventory by having every item in the warehouse signal its presence. This eliminates a costly and tedious process.
Using RFID tags also helps reduce theft and pilferage, because scanners automatically record the movement of tagged items whenever they pass out of a secure location. This added layer of security helps reduce inventory shrinkage and increases margins. In addition, since inventory and other data records will be more accurate, you may be able to reduce or eliminate safety stocks.
Tracking Rental Goods
If you rent out items, RFID tags can perform the time consuming and tedious check-in and check-out process. Making this process fast and painless for customers increases their satisfaction with your service, and accurate records that can’t be faked or misread helps eliminate disputes about the length of a rental period.
Mixed Pallets and Serialization
Tracking serialized goods can be challenging to track, even with barcodes, because it typically requires each item to be scanned individually. RFID scanners can capture an entire pallet of serial numbers as the pallet passes the scan point, so the pallet moves faster. This reduction in move time speeds up on-time delivery by reducing the order cycle time. It also increases inventory accuracy by eliminating incorrect serial number entries and enables tighter controls with less effort.
The same principle holds true for items with expiration dates or if you manage your inventory using either LIFO or FIFO picking. The RFID tag automatically lets the system know which item best meets the picking criteria and directs the worker to select that item.
If your product mix varies so that you ship mixed pallets, RFID tags will speed up transaction processing, because the scanner can read the RFID tag for every item on the pallet in a single pass, even if they are lot or serial controlled. This is much faster than entering each item’s data individually.
Want to know more about RFID? Watch for our NEW E-book Coming Soon: Is RFID is Right for My Business? Learn about the requirements, investment, and what types of operations could benefit most from an RFID tag and scanning system. Contact us today to reserve a free copy.
Your mobile computers and scanners are critical to ensuring the productivity of your team, and you probably have a substantial investment in your equipment. Don’t jeopardize your success by neglecting to add the right accessories – the right accessories can protect and enhance the value of your investment. Here are the top accessories to consider, along with the benefits that they can bring to your operation.
When batteries fail during a shift, your team has to waste time finding and installing a fresh battery, or worse yet, going manual while the battery recharges. Batteries are inexpensive, and skimping on spares is a false economy. Choosing genuine replacement batteries is always the better route to take when choosing a battery. They are designed to work optimally with your brand of mobile computing device or scanner, and will be a more reliable choice overall.
In addition, be sure to purchase spare batteries to ensure that you always have a fresh, fully-charged battery on hand and ready to go. Consider quick-charging batteries and rapid chargers to minimize downtime. You will more than make up any extra cost with the increased productivity. Some brands even offer colored batteries to help you track what year your last battery replacement took place.
Investing in the proper mounting solution for your scanners, mobile printers, and handheld computers increases productivity and accuracy by keeping worker’s hands free while still ensuring the mobile device is nearby and ready to use when needed.
For healthcare applications, mounting mobile devices helps free up space on carts for vital equipment while keeping charts and records accessible. Many mobile device mounts double as charging stations, ensuring that devices are always ready to go; and they are designed to be able to stand up to frequent cleaning and disinfection.
In retail, the right mounts help improve the customer experience by speeding up checkouts and providing access to inventory records on the fly. In production and distribution, forklift mounts increase productivity and reduce errors because the mobile device is always at the point of work.
Cases and covers protect your devices from falls, spills, and general wear and tear while still allowing access to all controls. Informs offers cases that fit a wide variety of mobile computers, including the most popular Honeywell models. They can be hung from a belt or wrist strap, or fitted with a handle for easy gripping.
Mobile computers are valuable and, like any asset, it makes sense to keep them secure. Investing in storage lockers to protect from pilferage or damage is wise. Informs can provide storage lockers for easy access to equipment that can also be configured to require device check-in/check-out so you know who is using each device. They come in various heights and widths, with variable locker sizes. You can even get lockers suitable for use outdoors or in other harsh environments.
If you are looking for advice to further enhance operations in your warehouse, DC or manufacturing facility, contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation, and we’ll provide you with recommendations for time-saving solutions to boost productivity and increase profitability.
You rely on your thermal printer to reliably produce high-quality barcode labels and tags. Are you consistently getting the results you expect? Is the print too light? You could try slowing the print speed, but then you’re compromising productivity. The real problem might be that you’re not matching the supplies to your printer.
Imagine you’re driving a high-performance car. Would you fuel it with low-octane gasoline? Not if you want it to last.
You have hundreds of choices of media and ribbon combinations for your thermal transfer printer. You match the media to your application, like exposure to abrasives, moisture, and extreme temperatures. Are you also matching supplies to your printer? When you choose the appropriate supplies, you optimize the print quality and reduce waste—like downtime and the expense of replacing supplies and reprinting labels. You also prevent the printer from running at extreme pressure and darkness settings.
For example, when you’re running your barcode label printer at high speed, you won’t get the best results with a ribbon that isn’t designed for that level. While you invest time in adjusting the settings, you might do better to first switch to a wax, resin, or wax/resin ribbon (depending on your application and needs) that is engineered for higher speeds. Zebra offers thermal transfer ribbons in varying grades to handle your printer speed. The 5319 Performance wax thermal transfer ribbon has been tested and approved for speeds of up to 8 inches per second (ips). If you need a wax ribbon to handle speeds of up to 12 ips, choose the Zebra 2000 High-Performance wax ribbon.
The total cost of ownership of your thermal printer is much more than the purchase price. You should factor in the supplies and maintenance to get an accurate TCO. When you use inferior supplies, you save money on one end, but spend at least that much (probably more) in printer downtime, unnecessary repair, IT time, and the expense of replacing those subpar thermal printer supplies.
Contact Informs to ensure you’re getting the right supplies for your thermal printer and applications, so you also optimize the TCO.
Your barcode labels elevate your operational efficiency. The data encoded into the little symbol can be used to expedite accurate picking and shipping, prevent product tampering and counterfeiting, tighten inventory control, minimize the impact of a product recall, streamline audits, and give you real-time visibility into your enterprise data.
You get all that with one small label. Choosing the right combination of barcode label size and print resolution is critical to ensuring your labels deliver on all counts.
The print resolution reflects the number of dots per inch (dpi). The higher the dpi, the sharper the definition of the image. Thermal printers range from 203 to 600 dpi. The smaller the label, the higher the resolution you will require to produce a scannable image. Micro-labels are used to identify tiny components, like those in electronics and medical devices. For these labels to be easily scanned, the micro-label requires high resolution and tight registration. A 600 dpi thermal printer is essential if you are producing barcodes that are less than .25” x .25”, fonts that are less than 10 point, or regulatory symbols or text that is smaller than 6 point.
Zebra, the worldwide leader in thermal print solutions, manufacturers a complete portfolio of barcode printers. They’ve just introduced the ZT600 industrial printers, a series that replaces the gold standard set by the Zebra Xi4 series. The ZT600 is designed for heavy-duty performance in a harsh environment, like a manufacturing facility or warehouse. The ZT610 prints 600 dpi on labels as small as 3 mm. Other Zebra industrial printers, like the ZT410, offer the option of high-resolution printing.
For larger barcode labels—like shipping labels—203 dpi resolution will suit your applications. The video below from Zebra Technologies offers additional tips for choosing the best print resolution for your application.
If you’re not sure of the best label size and print resolution, talk to us at Informs. We’ll help you understand your choices so you get the best match.