Why OEM Printer Labels and Supplies are the Best Choice

Why OEM Printer Labels and Supplies are the Best Choice

When it’s time to buy labels and supplies for industrial printers, enterprises face many different choices. And with those different choices come many different price points and levels of quality in the products. The number of labels and supply choices may seem overwhelming. Fortunately, choosing the best labels and supply for your industrial printer comes down to one simple criterion: do they come from the original equipment manufacturer (OEM)?

As this article will demonstrate, there are significant differences between labels and supplies from the OEM and supplies from elsewhere. And the differences go much deeper than just their origins and price points. Choosing the wrong industrial printer labels and supplies can have significant impacts on your enterprise’s productivity, as well as the life of your printer. But first, let’s explain some of the critical differences between OEM labels and supplies and ones from private or third-party manufacturers.

Differences Between OEM Printer Labels/Supplies & Third-Party Ones

The first significant difference between the two parties of printer labels and supplies, where they come, should come as no surprise. OEM parts come from the printer’s manufacturer and are designed specifically for each unique piece of equipment. Private or third-party manufacturer parts come from a company unrelated to the original manufacturer and are designed to be compatible with as many products as possible. Because OEM labels and supplies are designed specifically for the printer within your enterprise, they reduce the required equipment maintenance while maximizing its productivity and lifespan.

There is also a difference in the upfront cost of OEM printer labels and supplies and those from a third-party. OEM labels and supplies may come at a slightly higher price point, which can discourage end-users. However, the lower cost of third-party supplies often sacrifices several aspects of the label and supplies, as well as the printer itself, including:

Quality – Frequently, private or third-party manufactured printer labels and supplies are not composed of the same high-quality materials as those from the OEM. Only the OEM truly knows each printer, its design, and the rigors of the environment it will be operating in. Because the OEM knows these aspects so well, the design composition of the printer’s components, labels, and supplies are held to the highest quality standards.

Performance – As previously mentioned, OEM supplies and labels are designed specifically for their printers. The seamlessness between the printer’s design and its label and supplies enables the highest performance of the printer. Private manufacturers’ labels and components are simply compatible with the OEM’s printers and their design doesn’t aid in improving the printer’s performance.

Durability – Part of designing labels and supplies for OEM printers comes from having the end-user in mind. The high-quality materials used to make OEM parts can withstand rigors of harsh environments that can deteriorate them and lead to dips in production and other operational inefficiencies. Privately manufactured labels and supplies may not have been given the same considerations during design and build, leading to illegible labels, and even lessening the printer’s lifespan.

Reliability – Very similar to durability, using OEM labels and supplies helps ensure the reliable function of your printer throughout its life. Private manufacturers of supplies and labels don’t take the same steps to ensure their components help your printer remain reliable throughout its usable life.

Selection – with OEM labels and supplies, you know exactly what you need, how much of it, and when because the OEM guided you through the process of using and replenishing them. With private label supplies and labels, the end-user needs to research and do due diligence to ensure they find the components that are compatible with their printer, taking time and labor awayfrom their enterprise.

Warranty – OEM labels and supplies come with a warranty, but those from private manufacturers generally don’t. Further, using third-party manufacturer labelsand supplies have the potential to void the warranty of the printer.

Upfront Cost Isn’t the Only Cost

Each bullet point above leads to a single destination: the upfront cost of printer supplies and labels isn’t their only cost. While third-party labels, supplies, and components may have a reduced-price tag compared to their OEM counterparts, they also may bring an enterprise additional charges down the road.

If an enterprise uses labels, supplies, and components that aren’t explicitly designed for its printers, it faces some potential operational challenges and negative financial impacts. First, ensuring printed labels are legible, scannable, and fully functioning is essential to your workforce’s productivity. If staff is taking time to reprint and relabel items, that’s a production inefficiency that could have been avoided. This lost production can really add up over time.

And even if third-party labels are legible, scannable, and fully functioning, they still hold the risk of being detrimental to a printer’s lifespan. If private party labels, components, and supplies are the cause of a printer becoming irreparable, the warranty can be voided entirely. This leaves the enterprise faced with not only the financial dilemma of investing and implementing a new printer, it also leaves the workforce unable to execute critical printing task, which further slow productivity. With all that at risk, is saving a penny or two per label really worth it?

There is definitely a lot to consider when purchasing labels, supplies, and components for enterprise industrial printers. The right choice is the one that is most beneficial to your enterprise’s productivity, efficiency, and, ultimately, bottom line. And that choice, nearly every time, is purchasing replacement parts from the printer’s OEM.

At Informs, Inc., we’re labeling experts. Contact us and our team will show you what label will work best for your printer while maximizing your savings. We can also discuss OEM incentive programs, like this printhead replacement program from Honeywell, designed to save you money and minimize printer downtime.

Preparing Your Warehouse for Holiday Shopping During COVID-19

Preparing Your Warehouse for Holiday Shopping During COVID-19

COVID-19 has affected every link in the supply chain, from the top down to the bottom. Trade and travel are restricted. In-store shopping has slowed to a crawl. The pandemic has caused shifts in consumer behavior that have led to widespread disruption.

Luckily, the supply chain has been quick to respond and adapt, finding creative ways to work within this “new normal” and survive. But because of these changes, retailers and warehouses alike aren’t sure what to expect moving into this upcoming holiday season.

Everything has changed. Many have relied on historical data and traditional forecasting methods to anticipate their needs, but that may not be enough this year to provide a clear picture. This means that the entire supply chain will need to prepare.

What Shopping This Holiday Season Will Look Like

Customers are more concerned than ever about contracting a virus now as temperatures cool and activities move indoors. Because the virus is more easily transmitted indoors, these activities, including in-person shopping at brick-and-mortar stores, will slow down considerably.

Experience-based gifts like vacations, memberships, and season passes are no longer trending, thanks to the uncertainty that COVID-19 continues to bring. Many have had to cancel vacations this year and wait to see how the pandemic evolves before rescheduling them, which likely won’t be known until 2021. This has created a greater demand for bigger-ticket gift items as a consolation prize for enduring this whirlwind of a year.

Online shopping is quickly becoming a favorite pastime. Because many traditional entertainment sources are no longer viable, consumers don’t have much else to occupy their time. This points towards a much earlier start to the holiday shopping season than in previous years.

On top of that, many major retailers have publicly stated that they will not open their doors on Thanksgiving Day, as they have in years of the past. Big-box retailers like Best Buy, Target, and Walmart have all decided to close their doors over the holiday. The jury is still out on what this means for Black Friday and its in-person deals.

All of these signs point to one outcome: a massive increase in online sales.

What This Means for Warehouses

Preparation is necessary

COVID-19 has thrown a wrench into the spokes of how warehouses traditionally prepare for the holiday season. Where previously, warehouses would slowly begin preparing during early fall for an influx of sales in late November, now the burden is expected to be much heavier much sooner.

This means that your warehouse will need to start preparing much earlier than usual and be ready for the holiday season to last longer than you are used to. It’s critical that you implement the right technology and procedures to ensure a smooth operation.

Technology plays a major role

Rugged tablets and mobile computers purposefully-designed to withstand the rigors of a warehouse environment will be instrumental. When paired with the right barcode scanners, they allow you to ensure that data collection and transfer is conducted quickly and accurately.

On top of that, you need to ensure your products are correctly labeled and can be quickly identified for faster order picking and fulfillment, which calls for efficient printing and labeling solutions.

You’ll need to increase your workforce and bring on seasonal workers to meet the anticipated demand, so it’s critical that you make sure they are well-equipped. You may need to invest in more devices so that you can make sure your workers can do their jobs efficiently. Many rugged devices today look and feel like cell phones, making it easy for temporary workers to get up to speed on processes and how to use the device. Honeywell’s CT40 and CT60 are good examples of this intuitive design that doesn’t sacrifice the durability needed in a warehouse environment.

Managing all of these devices can be difficult. Some may die mid-shift, and others may malfunction or break in such a fast-paced environment. This calls for a quick and efficient means to replace or repair these devices. If you don’t have the in-house resources at your disposal, it may be worth it to look into professional services that can conduct repairs, training, and configuration.

Safety is paramount

It’s important to remember that COVID-19 has placed increased restrictions and safety guidelines that warehouses will need to work with. Though you’re probably already acclimated to those changes, it’s easy to forget them when planning for your future needs.

Your workers, especially new hires and seasonal workers, will need to be trained how to work quickly while maximizing safety. You’ll need to go over best practices with employees, encourage social distancing, and avoid high-congestion areas. It may be worth implementing one-way floor plans to reduce face-to-face contact, and ramp up mobile communication efforts so that workers don’t need to spend as much time face-to-face.

Consider implementing:

  • Safety signage and visual reminders to keep a safe distance from one another
  • Temperature verification solutions to ensure secure access only to people without fevers
  • Mobile carts and workstations so workers can take devices on-the-go
  • Protective PVC shields
  • Antimicrobial coatings for your devices
  • Sanitizing solutions, like hand sanitizer and UV-light solutions
  • Personal protective equipment like masks, shields, and gloves

Meeting the Demands of the New Normal

COVID-19 has hit retailers and warehouses hard. It has ushered in enormous changes in consumer behavior and has tested the supply chain’s agility. The upcoming holiday season will push the supply chain to its limits.

Warehouses will need to stay focused so that they can adequately prepare. They will require a blend of the right technology and best practices in order to maintain efficient workflows, keep employees safe, and meet the increased and evolving demands.

Informs, Inc. can assist you with your technology needs. We provide industry-leading technology designed to keep your warehouse operating at peak efficiency. Our experts understand what it takes to run a successful warehouse. We can help you find the right solutions and provide you with guidance on how to leverage them to truly optimize your warehouse.

For more information on our technology and what the folks at Informs can do for your business, contact us today!

How to Select (and Keep Clean) the Right Mobile Devices for Mitigating Risk of Infection in Your Warehouse

How to Select (and Keep Clean) the Right Mobile Devices for Mitigating Risk of Infection in Your Warehouse

For years, healthcare environments have been relying on specially designed devices made to help mitigate the risk of infection. Now the risk has transformed, and the most dangerous places that viruses could be lurking aren’t just found in hospitals. They can now be found in retail stores, warehouses, and any other place where people congregate for any amount of time.

Distribution centers and supply chain manufacturers must ramp up safety efforts by taking a page from the healthcare industry and implementing tools, policies and devices designed to reduce the spread of pathogens. Consider these tips when selecting (and keeping clean) the right mobile devices for your operation:

1. Consider Devices Made from Disinfectant-Ready Plastics

Some devices are made with special plastics that are designed to withstand strong cleaners and multiple cleanings without cracking or corroding. Make sure your tech stack includes the most rugged and disinfectant-ready devices for your applications. This will help extend the lifecycle of the device as well as keep reduce the spread of germs. Pay strict attention to the suggested cleaning and care instructions from the device manufacturer and implement a protocol that ensures all employees are cleaning devices according to best practices and at recommended intervals throughout the day.

2. Implement Anti-Microbial Products

There are devices on the market with anti-microbial properties. This essentially means that these products have silver-ion embedded right into the plastic on the device. Because silver impedes the growth of deadly organisms, it can reduce the risk of spreading infection from person to person via the device.

This additive has become increasingly popular, especially recently. You can find everything from screen protectors, to tablets, to mobile computers with silver ion embedded in the surface, so that your workers can effectively do their jobs while lowering the risk of germs spread.

3. Leverage UV Light Solutions

When UV light is used as a sanitizing solution, it can eliminate 99.9% of all germs. UV light solutions allow your operation to place smaller mobile devices, like Honeywell’s Dolphin CT60, inside a compartment that once shut, activates UV light to disinfect the device within minutes.

This solution is not only incredibly effective, but it also does all the sanitization work for the user. Employees get the peace of mind that the devices they are using are fully cleaned and sanitized 100% of the time, without having to clean the devices themselves.

4. Develop Cleaning and Disinfecting Guidelines

When it comes to cleaning and disinfecting your devices, it’s important that you develop a regular cleaning schedule and follow the recommended best practices for ensuring your devices are properly sanitized.

A standard microfiber cloth is ideal for wiping away fingerprints, surface grime, and smudges from your devices. Pathogens can live in the oil in these smudges and fingerprints, so cleaning them with a microfiber cloth can help reduce the transmission of germs, but it does not eliminate all bacteria or completely sanitize devices.

To completely disinfect your devices, you will need to consult the manufacturing guidelines for each individual device. Develop a regular disinfecting schedule and communicate instructions to your employees for when and how a device should be properly cleaned. Make this information available at the device’s charging station, and include instructions for both wiping down devices and thoroughly sanitizing them, as well as how often you should carry out each.

5. Promote Best Practices for Good Hygiene

Above all else, each employee must practice good personal hygiene to ensure everyone stays safe. Provide each worker with personal protective equipment, such as masks and gloves. It’s also important that they maintain a safe distance of at least six feet between employees.

Make sure your workers know the proper sanitary guidelines to follow. Everyone should be covering their mouths and noses whenever they cough or sneeze and h and washing should be carried out often. Scrub with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds, and dry hands thoroughly with a disposable towel. If soap and water aren’t readily available, hand sanitizer can be substituted. Make sure you use a 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizer in between hand washings.

These best practices have been followed in healthcare environments for decades. Now that everyone, not just healthcare workers, needs to keep safety top-of-mind, we can all take a page out of the healthcare industry’s handbook and implement these same best practices for industrial environments.

Informs provides best-in-class solutions that can be easily cleaned and disinfected to help you mitigate the risk of virus spread and protect your workers. For more information, contact an expert at Informs today.

Tips to Reduce Acquisition Costs for Your Enterprise Mobility

Tips to Reduce Acquisition Costs for Your Enterprise Mobility

The industry is under more pressure than ever to increase productivity and speed up processes. Now that consumers expect fast shipping on every purchase, the pressure is on to optimize your supply chain processes as much as possible.

Keeping up with the demand requires mobility. The right mobile devices and equipment can help position your operation for optimal productivity; however, acquiring these mobile tools can be costly and complicated. Scanners, mobile printers, and mobile computers are big-ticket items that carry a big-ticket price tag.

With how rapidly technology is changing, it is time for a new, innovative approach to acquiring your necessary equipment and services—and one that decreases the risk of high up-front investments.

1. Move to a Subscription Payment Model

In the current ultra-competitive environment, it’s wise to consider moving to a subscription payment model. This allows you to upgrade your enterprise mobility and achieve greater productivity without high upfront capital costs.

With a subscription payment model, you can pay a predictable monthly subscription price, and receive a complete solution with all equipment and related expenses bundled under a single contract.

Subscription models provide you with the greatest flexibility at the least risk, while decreasing the total-cost-of-ownership to your organization. You can eliminate unnecessary expenses throughout the lifetime of the device, including product disposal. Honeywell even offers Honeywell-as-a-Service (HaaS) to help your operation acquire the assets you need at a cost that you can easily manage.

2. Discover Managed Services

Once you have all of your necessary devices, it’s essential that you can effectively manage and service them. Unfortunately, when it comes to enterprise mobility, managing, supporting, and servicing your assets can be complicated and time consuming. While proper management is critical for keeping your equipment in optimal condition, it’s challenging to do alone.

A managed services provider can take all of this off your plate, helping you ensure your devices and equipment offer maximum performance, security and up-time. Professional services can be bundled into one affordable monthly cost, often along with a hardware-as-a-service contract. This allows for:

  • Technology consulting
  • Solution engineering
  • Product procurement
  • Device configuration, stating, and kitting
  • Software integration
  • Mobile device management
  • Helpdesk support
  • Spare pool management
  • Repair services

3. Explore Trade-in Programs

When your device becomes obsolete or reaches its end-of-life, disposing of it can be a hassle. Other times, your device is still working, but it doesn’t add as much value or work as effectively as newer devices, but you’ve invested in it and don’t want to lose out on a good return.

In instances like these, many warehouse operators turn to manufacturers like Honeywell, which offer trade-in programs. These programs can ensure that your devices are disposed of properly. You can trade-in your old equipment and then get discounts on newer devices. Trade-in values typically range from $100 to $500 per device. While that may not always cover the costs of upgrading your devices, you can benefit from your old devices while increasing productivity with the new devices once you’ve upgraded.

4. Make the Most of Your Accessories

Upgrading your devices can include extra costs that you may not have considered. In some cases, you may have to purchase all new accessories, which can be quite costly.

Luckily, many manufacturers like Honeywell will design their devices to be backward compatible. This means that new models will be compatible with the accessories of older models you may even already own, effectively helping offset the cost of acquiring and upgrading devices. Backward-compatible accessories can include cradles, charging docks, batteries, and more. This can offer significant savings, sometimes up to 20% or more.

Acquiring new devices for enterprise mobility can be costly. However, it’s possible to reduce the acquisition costs when you work with manufacturers like Honeywell and implementation partners like Informs. Together, we help make it easier and more cost-effective for your operation to boost mobility and increase productivity in the warehouse by offering a wide array of services and payment options. For more information on how to reduce your acquisition costs while still achieving a positive ROI, contact the experts at Informs, Inc.

Tips to Maintain Physical Distance and Keep Employees and Customers Healthy and the Supply Chain Moving During and Post-COVID-19

Tips to Maintain Physical Distance and Keep Employees and Customers Healthy and the Supply Chain Moving During and Post-COVID-19

When news of the coronavirus pandemic first emerged, few could have predicted just how much it would impact the supply chain. This viral outbreak brought a new normal and has resulted in many changes that will last far beyond the pandemic itself.

For many warehouses, production has ramped up to meet the demand for essential supplies. As important as it is to keep the supply chain moving, it is imperative that those on the front lines are kept safe and healthy.

Consider these tips to help maintain the health of your employees and your operation:

1. Use Best Practices to Clean Shared Devices

It’s good to start by creating cleaning and sanitizing protocol for all devices, especially any devices that are shared among employees throughout the day or that pass from one worker to the next between shifts. Scanners, mobile computers, tablets, and other data collection devices are among the most commonly used and should be cleaned and disinfected thoroughly, at regular intervals.

Follow the general best practices for each device. Avoid abrasive cleaners that can damage your devices, and make sure you don’t spray any liquid directly onto the device. Instead, moisten a microfiber cloth with the recommended cleaning solution and gently wipe down your device.

If you aren’t sure what to use on your device, consult the manufacturer’s instructions beforehand. The instructions may vary depending on the device and model. Honeywell provides a handy cleaning and disinfecting guide for all devices.

2. Use Signage to Enhance Communication

It’s a good idea to place placards and signs up that communicate social distancing practices and procedures. You can use peel-and-stick vinyl signs to remind employees to wash their hands and use personal protective equipment like masks and gloves.

Within a retail environment, you want to make sure customers stay an appropriate distance from one another, so peel-and-stick vinyl floor stickers placed six feet apart wherever lines would typically form are a good tool for communicated this.

Finally, it’s wise to maintain a single traffic flow pattern to decrease the number of customers that come face-to-face with one another. This helps combat the potential spread of the virus and helps keep order.

3. Mobilize Your Workforce

Your workers need to maintain social distance from one another while still being able to work freely within your space. To ensure this, you need to have the necessary tools at your disposal.

Equip your workers with mobile devices like tablets and mobile computers that can keep them connected and engaged while maintaining a safe distance. These devices have built-in scanners, cameras, Bluetooth, and more, all of which help you achieve more productivity while simultaneously amplifying connectivity among workers.

Be sure to look for devices with fast charging and a long-lasting battery, as these qualities will be extra important now that there is so much pressure to streamline your operation. This will allow your devices to make it through an entire shift without swapping out batteries or sanitizing between shifts.

4. Implement Mobile Workstations

Implementing mobile workstations is a good way to help maintain social distance while still providing employees with the resources they need to complete their jobs.

Mobile workstations come in flexible configurations that allow them to be used indoors and outdoors and include built-in power sources that last the entire shift. That means you never need to worry about a device dying on you during a shift, and you can effectively eliminate any workflows that require a worker to travel between a shared central location.

5. Transition to Healthcare-Grade Plastics

Not all plastics are made the same. Many won’t stand up to the harsh chemicals and abrasion of abrasive cleaners and multiple cleanings. They will crack and wear down over time.

Healthcare-grade plastics contain antimicrobial additives where available, which help reduce the risk of spreading the virus. These are especially helpful for retailers, who have many different customers coming into contact with these surfaces. By limiting the spread of germs and bacteria, they can benefit from the peace of mind.

Informs offers industry-leading technology designed to help your operation keep up with the ever-increasing demand. Our mobile devices, workstations, and healthcare-grade plastics can help you keep your workers and customers safe while ensuring you stay productive. For more information, contact Informs today.