Operational productivity in the DC or warehouse depends on a number of factors, but when it comes to your cordless devices, like handheld scanners or mobile computers, success rests with the batteries they run on. To ensure long life and maximum up-time, here are 6 best practices for mobile device battery health.
- Label Each Device
As soon as you receive it, number and label each device critical to your mobile strategy. Labeling each unit helps to keep tabs on them – for example, you’ll always know if a bar code scanning device is charging, or if a device is missing at the end of a shift. As you insert replacement batteries for your handheld devices, you can rest assured you have a freshly charged battery and spares, if needed.
- Label Charger Slots and Batteries
By assigning batteries and charging slots to specific devices, you can tell at a glance if one is missing. With a spare battery charging for each device, workers can easily swap their depleted batteries without risking extended downtime.
- Replace Batteries at the Right Time
Every battery has an expected lifespan, and while the battery may still operate beyond the expected timeframe, you will experience reduced efficiency. The battery will no longer charge as fully as it once did, so workers may have to change batteries in the middle of a shift, or they may have to scan items multiple times before the device can read the bar code. Most batteries in daily rotation should be replaced every 12 to 18 months, depending on the number of shifts in operation.
- Mark Batteries with the Purchase Date
Knowing how long your mobile computer batteries have been in rotation will help you plan the optimum replacement cycle, making it easier for you to ensure you have enough fresh batteries for every device. Some people write purchase dates on the device while others use colored stickers to denote the month and year of purchase. Keeping track of the colors assigned to each month is a little extra work up front, but it makes it easier to visually scan your battery supply to see how many are due for replacement. Whichever method you choose, tracking service cycles help ensure you won’t lose productivity because of weak batteries.
- Invest in Spares
You should always have at least one and preferably two spare batteries per device. This helps ensure you always have a fully-charged battery available and eliminates unnecessary downtime because of battery availability. Don’t forget to label the spares the same way you do the main batteries.
- Perform Regular Battery Maintenance
Dirt and debris are the enemy of well-charged batteries. Periodically clean the contact terminals with a soft lint-free cloth to keep the battery clean and charging freely.
Consider Battery-Free Devices
The latest scanning devices, such as the Honeywell Voyager 1200g-bf, use supercapacitors rather than batteries for power. These devices hold their charge for about 100 scans, but recharge in just a few seconds. They are ideal for retail scanning or any scanning application where the device is not in continuous use for extended periods. You can learn more about this technology here.
The holiday season has begun. To stay ahead of customer demands and outwit the competition, efficient fulfillment is the key to your success. Have you taken these steps to ensure your DC is ready?
If you are bringing on temporary team members to manage the extra workload, you need them to become productive quickly. However, you don’t want to invest a lot in training since these new workers will be gone after the holidays. If you have a continuous improvement program in place, you may have already made a good start to simplify your processes, which will make it easier to bring new people on board. This is not the right time to make sweeping changes to procedures, but small tweaks may help you keep productivity high.
You should also invest in mobile devices that are simple and intuitive to use, and make sure they know how to operate the devices. Show new employees how to scan bar codes using a handheld scanner or mobile computer, and how to change the batteries or recharge cordless devices. Don’t forget about loading labels! Temporary employees need to know
how to replenish bar code label printers, and where to go if they run in to a problem they can’t solve on their own.
Giving your temporary employees a thorough grounding in your equipment and procedures will help them to become productive faster and keep them from becoming a drain on the productivity of your experienced staff.
- Workforce Preparation
Make sure you have enough devices, spare batteries, chargers and accessories to supply each worker, and make sure they have a keen understand of the business processes they need to perform. Equipping users with the right data collection devices will not only keep productivity high but may also improve safety by reducing accidents. For example, arming your workers with hands-free bar code scanners or a voice-directed data collection solution will speed up productivity, allowing them to spend more time on the task and less time fiddling with the device.
- Select Devices for Efficiency and Reliability
Your entire team needs to move fast during the holiday season and other peak times of the year, so be sure your devices are up to the task. If your mobile devices are not rated for the rigors of a rugged distribution center or warehouse, or if your handheld scanners are not as responsive as they need to be for your fast-paced environment, it can lead to a decrease in order accuracy, increased rates of failure and additional expenses to correct mistakes. Printer volumes may also become an issue if you are asking your printer to exceed its rated duty cycle.
The Right Device Makes All the Difference
Choose rugged devices that can stand up to untrained and multiple users, drops to concrete and changes in environmental conditions. Consider the ergonomics of the device. You may want wireless scanners for the shipping area and forklift mounted devices or mobile terminals for the picking team. In the long run, it will save you time and money to choose devices wisely rather than focus on pricing. The right mobile devices can reduce costs and errors while increasing productivity and customer satisfaction.
Your employees will be picking, packing and shipping at break-neck speed, so having the right equipment will help keep them safe and improve accuracy while minimizing potential damage to your devices. The bottom line is that in a short amount of time, you’ll need to be on top of your game with speed and accuracy to satisfy customer requirements.