4 Ways to Improve Retail Warehouse Efficiency and Reduce Costs

4 Ways to Improve Retail Warehouse Efficiency and Reduce Costs

An outsider looking in may not guess how much actually goes into operating a retail warehouse. They may have outdated views of simple storage locations for goods, and now understand how deeply warehouse operations affect the global supply chain. As a retail warehouse operator however, you are well-versed in the complexities and challenges that run rampant within the warehouse.

Operating a retail warehouse is by no means easy, but it can be made easier with the right strategies and tools in place. Here are a few ways you can improve retail warehouse efficiency and reduce costs:

Improve Warehouse Processes, Reduce Costs

Do you have a set of best practices for your warehouse and your workers to follow? Do you stick to them? Warehouses are not immune to growing pains that come with any expansion, and over time, processes can get muddled. It’s important to revisit and update processes when you need, especially to accommodate for growth.

Start by conducting an operational audit and see whether or not processes are completed in an appropriate timeframe. If not, try to identify any bottlenecks that may be hampering your efficiency.

Improve Supply Chain

Create an inbound and outbound freight schedule for the best workflow of dock employees, and schedule purchase orders to create the best workflow. If your schedules are jam-packed in the mornings and evenings, but slow in the middle, workers are not being utilized during that time, which costs you money. You can eliminate this by optimizing both freight schedules and shift schedules.

Optimizing your schedules won’t improve retail warehouse efficiency enough on its own, however. You need to incentivize your workers. Create a system of incentive pay—especially for pick and pack employees to help speed up some of the processes in your retail warehouse.

Upgrade Technologies

Old, obsolete technologies won’t help you create a more efficient retail warehouse. The only way forward is to adapt and leverage the advancements that warehouse technology has made. Unreadable barcodes can cause heavy fines and chargebacks to be levied against you. You can safeguard against this by implementing a barcode verification system.

There are a number of factors that can cause unreadable barcodes, like labels being printed at the wrong temperatures, low contrast, quiet zone violations, and more. Barcode verification ensures each barcode is readable before packages leave the retail warehouse.

Upgrade Management

The same way obsolete technology holds you back, the way you manage your technology can deeply affect your success. While you may not have the bandwidth to plan, deploy, evaluate and ready the systems in your retail warehouse on your own, you can benefit from managed services that will handle these tasks for you.

Conclusion

For a retail warehouse to reach maximum efficiency and productivity, each cog in the machine needs to be well-calibrated and working in tandem with the others. Analyze the processes in your warehouse that you can improve internally and create a plan to remove bottlenecks and optimize workflow. It may require a simple solution like updating the processes you currently have in place to be more efficient. For even more efficiency, you may need to consider upgrading your technology and how you manage it.

Informs, Inc. offers a wide range of solutions designed to help retail warehouses operate more efficiently and cost-effectively, as well as a number of managed services to help you get the most out of your technology.

Interested in learning more about our products and services? Contact Informs today.

5 Easy Ways to Prevent Barcode Printer Errors

5 Easy Ways to Prevent Barcode Printer Errors

Barcode printers are an essential part of operation. When you encounter barcode printer errors, you can experience costly downtime, chargebacks, and a loss in productivity. To prevent this, take a proactive approach and ensure you are taking care of your printers.

Here are five easy ways you can help maintain barcode printers and reduce errors:

Purchase the Correct Media

The first step is to ensure the media you use is right for your printer. If the barcode label is too abrasive, it can wear through the protective ceramic coating and cause damage to the print head. This doesn’t just apply to the barcode label, but the ribbon as well. Ensure the transfer ribbon is as wide, if not wider, than your label itself, and is made from quality materials that don’t leave wax/resin buildup. Cheap media can cause the printer to collect dust and debris, resulting in poor print quality, frequent print head replacements, and barcode printer errors.

Clean Regularly

Low-quality media isn’t the only factor that causes dust, debris, and build-up. You environment is likely to cause this to some degree. Every printer will need to be cleaned on a regular basis to keep it in ideal working condition.

Follow the instructions from the printer’s user manual, and clean the print head and platen roller each time you install a new ribbon in your thermal printer. This only takes a few minutes and could potentially save thousands of dollars over the lifetime of the printer.

Monitor Printer Settings

Each printer has manufacturer recommended settings put in place to help you get the most out of your printer. While these settings are often customizable, increases or changes to these recommended settings can eventually shorten its lifespan. Fast printing speeds can not only increase the number of barcode printer errors you may encounter, but it could damage the printer.

Don’t Damage the Printer Sensors

Airborne particles like dust and paper fibers are unfortunately impossible to avoid. These particles can damage print sensors, or block them altogether over time if they are left to build up. In addition to regular cleanings, keep these at bay by brushing them away with small, clean paint brushes or canned air duster—the same you would use to clean a keyboard.

Prevent Print Head Contamination

Print heads are not only delicate, but expensive to replace. It is essential to prevent damage to the print head whenever possible. Make sure you aren’t risking print head contamination. Only use print heads that adhere to the manufacturer’s specifications. You may find inexpensive parts offered by a third party, but don’t be fooled by what seems to be a good deal. You will only end up paying more in the long run when these parts break or damage the printer.

Conclusion:

Barcode printer errors are a costly nuisance. If you are experiencing more errors than you should, it’s likely due to sub-par printer maintenance or materials. A barcode printer is a significant investment, and should be treated as such. By following manufacturer instructions and doing some basic maintenance, you can prevent these errors from occurring and extend the life of your printer.

Informs, Inc. offers a wide range of high-quality industrial barcode printers and media. For more information on printer maintenance and which media is right for your printer, contact Informs, Inc. today.

Why Adopting Android Enterprise Mobile Devices may be the Best Decision for Your Operation

Why Adopting Android Enterprise Mobile Devices may be the Best Decision for Your Operation

Windows had announced it is ending support for its Windows-embedded devices. This has caused manufacturing and warehouse operators to go on a frantic search for a new operating system (OS) for their enterprise mobile devices before the end-of-life goes into effect.

While transitioning to Android devices may seem overwhelming and complex, manufacturers such as Honeywell offer business solutions to take control and unify the process, effectively simplifying the transition. Honeywell built a mobile device platform to help navigate this transition: Mobility Edge.

Filled with cutting-edge solutions, download our complete product catalog here.

Here are just a few of the reasons why you should consider enterprise mobile devices built on the Mobility Edge platform:

A Unified Mobile Device Platform

The Honeywell Mobility Edge provides a unified hardware and software platform for all form factors, which allows for rapid deployments and great performance. Designed for Android, it is composed of common hardware, a common OS with support for multiple generations of Android, and a common software ecosystem that includes Honeywell software, as well as Honeywell-approved independent software vendors (ISVs).

Overall, this unified platform enables enterprises to streamline deployment and management for enterprise mobile devices, which improves efficiency and reduces cost, effort, and risk. It also helps to reduce the demands placed on the IT department.

Extended Lifecycle Means Less IT Frustration

Android enterprise devices, especially those built on the Mobility Edge platform from Honeywell, are renowned for their long lifecycles. In fact, enterprises can get six full years of life through 2025 when they invest in a Mobility Edge device from Honeywell. Not only that, but they can receive security support through the next five versions of Android.

The Mobility Edge platform also includes other features that extend the lifespan of enterprise mobile devices and provide a maximum return. The battery optimizer provides information about current charge and battery health. Users can choose different optimization profiles that can work to extend the available runtime of the battery pack. A self-diagnostics feature also allows users to identify and diagnose basic device issues, reducing the demand on IT.

Minimized Security Risks

An unmanaged device poses a security risk, which can be devastating to enterprises. When devices aren’t updated regularly and necessary security patches aren’t installed, cyber criminals have an opportunity to act, with some serious consequences. IBM reported the average cost of a security breach is up 6.4% to $3.86 million.

Honeywell provides regular security patches for Mobility Edge devices at least every 90 days—sometimes as frequently as every 30 days. This helps ensure that all devices on the Mobility Edge platform are secure, and data is protected.

Take Advantage of Honeywell’s Mobility Edge Platform

Honeywell is launching new enterprise mobile devices with the platform already installed. As the only company that guarantees support through Android R, Honeywell’s Android enterprise devices are future-proof and built to last.

  • Dolphin CN80—an ultra-rugged device that features both a keypad and a large touchscreen interface for speedy and efficient data entry.
  • Dolphin CT60—a durable and versatile mobile computer with a long-lasting battery and high-performance scanning.
  • Dolphin CT40—a full-touch mobile computer with a five-inch display that acts as an intuitive tool, optimized for long shifts and comfortable use.
  • Dolphin CK65—a rugged mobile computer with flexible data entry options and enhanced scanning read ranges of up to 15.2m (50 ft.).
  • Thor VM1A—a leading vehicle-mounted computer that has been upgraded to the Mobility Edge platform, and can be used on multiple vehicles.

 

Interested in learning more about the enterprise mobile devices built on the Mobility Edge platform and how they can help you navigate the transition from Windows to Android? Contact Informs, Inc. today.

Vehicle Fleet Technology

Vehicle Fleet Technology

3 Things to Consider when Transitioning from Windows CE End of Life to Android

Windows CE End of Life is near, leaving warehouses scrambling to find an alternate OS such as Android, that will allow them to continue maximizing productivity without experiencing downtime during the transition. A disruption in productivity can significantly affect your bottom line, so it’s important to find the right tools to keep your operations running smoothly.

Here are three things to consider when transitioning to Android.

Increased Productivity

When looking for a new vehicle-mount computer for your forklifts, your top priority should be finding one that will increase your productivity. The device you choose should be rugged, and able to withstand the conditions that it will need to work in, as well as the vibrations from the machine itself.

With Windows CE End of Life approaching, it’s important to find a new device soon, but don’t compromise on power. The device needs to have the capabilities to run any applications you need, without waiting for pages to load or data to process. Any device that runs too slow will dampen your productivity.

Another way to streamline operations and increase productivity is through error reduction. When your workers don’t have access to the data they need at all times, the time they spend retrieving it can cause huge delays. If they don’t have the time, they may try to go without, risking errors popping up. Prevent this by transitioning to Android devices built to perform and provide all necessary data instantly.

Lower Cost of Ownership

Many warehouse operators make the unfortunate mistake of never looking beyond the initial investment, but what you really need to consider is the total cost of ownership. Inexpensive solutions will always make you pay elsewhere with maintenance costs, planned obsolescence, or hidden fees.

Some may only be compatible with certain accessories, forcing you to purchase them instead of allowing to utilize the perfectly good ones you already have. Try to find products that offer backwards-compatible accessories, like docks, mounts, keyboards, and scanners to help you save money.

You also want to make sure your device is future-proof, with support in place for any upcoming Android updates.

Adopt a Platform to Prepare for the Future

Transitioning to Android-based devices can help ensure better warehouse productivity. With Honeywell’s Mobility Edge platform, you can get unified hardware and software architecture that makes it easy to deploy new devices and software applications.

The Mobility Edge takes an integrated and scalable approach to helping solve the Windows CE End of Life issue. Devices built on the Mobility Edge platform are ideal for simplified deployments and maximum productivity.

Consider a solution like the Thor VM1A, which is a compact, ergonomic solution that can accelerate provisioning, application certification, and deployment. It also features extended security update support, to maximize ROI.

Conclusion:

Windows CE End of Life is looming, but if you plan ahead and prepare, transitioning to Android devices doesn’t have to hurt your bottom line. The right technology, like devices built on the Mobility Edge platform, can help you easily navigate this transition and achieve higher productivity, while still providing a lower total cost of ownership.

Contact us for more information on Windows End of Life, and how we can help you avoid downtime and gain better productivity during this transition.

Three Reasons to Implement Barcode Verification into Your Warehouse or DC

Three Reasons to Implement Barcode Verification into Your Warehouse or DC

Unreadable barcodes are at best a nuisance, and at worst, a costly mistake that can cause major issues throughout the supply chain. Not only could your warehouse have heavy fines and charge backs levied against you, if you are a repeat offender, you may find your reputation is damaged.

To avoid this, warehouse operators can implement barcode verification systems to help eliminate unreadable barcodes and improve productivity within their operation.

Here are a few reasons why you may want to consider implementing barcode verification:

Eliminate Downtime

Bad barcodes have the potential hold up production. In a fast-paced industry like yours, this can cost you thousands, especially if it continues happening. Barcode verification processes ensure that each code is high-quality, and can easily be read and scanned. This eliminates costly downtime and helps save money on production costs.

You can further reduce errors by investing in quality printing equipment and supplies. Ensure you have the right media for your labels, and your print head stays well-maintained. Low-quality labels can scratch the print head, causing damage that result in unreadable labels. Incompatible media can cause barcodes to fade or smudge. Prevent issues like this from occurring by investing in high-quality consumables.

Save Money

Some operations are subject to costly back charges and fees from big box retailers. These retailers charge for inconvenience when items have unreadable barcodes. Over time, this can end up costing your operation more than you can afford.

Barcode verification can ensure you are printing accurate and readable barcodes, which eliminates these costly charges and fees. Again, ensure you are also using the right printing supplies. The adhesive needs to meet your needs and stick securely to the material you are attaching the labels to without leaving deposits or jamming up the printer. Your print head should always be clean and free of dust or residue.

Make sure your labels are also compliant with any applicable industry regulations, especially when it comes to the healthcare industry’s unique device identification (UDI) compliance regulation, which ensures products can be traced from manufacturing through disposal.

Choose Unsurpassed Accuracy in Your Barcode Printer

Choosing the right printer and barcode verification solution takes a lot of research, and the best option for you can depend on your individual needs. In general you want to make sure you look for a solution with high precision and accuracy. Look for a printer that can print labels in the size you need, clearly and accurately. This is especially important for those printing smaller barcode labels.

A quick way to ensure you achieve 100% accuracy every time is by choosing a printer with integrated label verification, like the Honeywell PX940 printer. The integrated label verification technology checks and ensures that your labels are accurate, notifying you of pass/fail status as soon as labels are printed.

Conclusion:

While no printer is 100% fail-safe, and you will always find some labels are unreadable, it doesn’t mean you have to damage your bottom line and cut your losses when this happens. Barcode verification can catch these errors before they are sent out, allowing you to avoid costly fees and keep your high-integrity reputation intact.

Informs offers innovative barcode verification solutions that ensure your barcodes are always readable and accurate. For more information on how barcode verification can help you improve your bottom line, contact us today.