With high competition and increased demands for speed and efficiency, warehouse operators must always be on the lookout for ways to improve productivity. Mobile cart workstations are built for just that. The ability to take your work process mobile has many time-saving and cost-saving benefits, especially for those in warehouses and factory settings, where efficiency depends on mobility.
Here are five reasons your warehouse may want to look into mobile cart workstations:
Accelerate Data Capture and Inventory Handling
While it may not seem like it, the ability to keep employees closer to the point of activity saves significant time. True, you may shave only a few seconds off the time it takes for an employee to walk back and forth to a fixed station, but that adds up over time.
By scanning and printing right at the source, you can increase quality, accuracy, and speed of data capture. When processes are more efficient, your workers can have more time to do their jobs thoroughly and double-check the quality of their work, as well. Having a mobile computer, printer, and scanner station allows employees to take their work with them, saving on both time and labor costs by equipping workers to work more productively.
Empower Your Employees Without Limiting Capabilities or Compromising Accuracy
A mobile cart workstation allows you to improve efficiency in many ways. In addition to computers, printers, and scanners, a mobile cart offers workers access to critical business systems. They can have instant access to their WMS system, ERP, and other network applications, no matter where they are in the facility.
Mobile carts empower workers to perform daily transactions and tasks without limiting their capabilities or compromising accuracy. They’ll no longer have to spend cumulative hours walking back and forth between the receiving and storage areas just to input data and print labels. They can also eliminate bottlenecks in the inventory process, helping to streamline employee workflow and free up more space in the warehouse by doing away with fixed workstations.
Improve the Return Process
Returns are often a necessary evil. The different ways each returned product must be processed tends to place a burden on warehouse operations and slow down productivity. With a mobile workstation, the workers responsible for processing returns will have the necessary information they need right at their fingertips. Mobile carts offer access to inventory, accounting, data capture, and order system information so they can quickly determine the ultimate disposition of the returned merchandise.
With the ability to have updates to data reflected in the inventory system in real time, workers can fulfill new orders, while customers can be credited faster. This not only improves productivity within your workflow, but it increases customer satisfaction.
Eliminate Extension Cords and Power Strips
Large industrial extension cords are not just merely an eyesore—they’re hazardous to the health and safety of your workers and equipment. A mess of extension cords makes your warehouse floor look messy and unprofessional, and it poses a risk to busy employees that can easily trip and fall. Any assets they are carrying may be damaged, but more importantly, your employees themselves may be injured.
A mobile computer station solves this problem by utilizing a rechargeable power pack, which eliminates the need for a wired connection to the mains. The batteries on mobile cart workstations are built last a full shift. Some even last up to 15 hours. Essential components like monitors and keyboards are built into the mobile computer station, so there are no wires needed to connect them together.
A Happy Employee is an Efficient Employee
Employees can quickly become demoralized if they realize they are working in an inefficient environment. Workers want to know you value their time, and don’t want to waste their hard labor walking back and forth unnecessarily from the point of data capture to the stationary computer.
Mobile workstations eliminate the need for trips across the warehouse, and enable workers to carry less equipment with them back and forth. By providing your employees with a mobile cart, you are making their jobs more comfortable and untethering them to stationary workstations, allowing them to increase productivity and output.
The times are changing, and warehouses now must embrace new ways to improve mobility and streamline workflow. Over the course of the week, mobile carts can eliminate hours of time spent on unnecessary trips, greatly improving speed and efficiency all around.
Informs, Inc. offers these ergonomically-designed mobile computer stations for enterprises looking to increase productivity and improve quality of life for workers on the job. By investing in mobile carts, you can equip your employees to speed up processes, and set yourself up to stay competitive and profitable in your industry. For more information on our mobile cart workstations, contact Informs today.
Barcode printing hardware is a major investment into your operation, with major consequences should you get it wrong. The right barcode printing hardware will streamline processes, help you work quickly and effectively, and print lasting, accurate labels that will scan correctly every time. The wrong hardware could disrupt operations, cause unreadable labels, and result in some significant sunk costs.
If you are looking to invest in new barcode printing hardware, here is what to consider:
Your environment has a lot to do with what type of printer hardware you will choose. If you operate in a warehouse or distribution center with hazards that can cause damage to hardware like dust, spills, splashes, etc., you will need hardware that is designed to withstand those environmental factors.
Some operations take place in extreme temperatures, like freezer storage or hot metal warehouses in warm climates. These temperatures can also damage hardware that wasn’t built specifically to operate under extreme temperature conditions, so it’s important that you factor environmental hazards, as well as temperatures of your warehouse into consideration.
2. Type of Printer
Barcode printing hardware comes in many different forms and types, so it is good to evaluate all of them and choose the one with qualities that will best suit your operation:
These devices print on heat-sensitive media. When this media is passed under heated sections of the printhead, it darkens, forming the proper markings. They don’t need an ink ribbon, and the printed labels usually last long, but can’t withstand extreme temperatures or conditions.
These printers use ink ribbons to mark labels. These ink ribbons are heated and melted onto the label by the printhead, which makes them last longer, but the media is more expensive.
Smaller in size, these printers print fewer labels than industrial printers, but are more ergonomically-designed and provide a smaller footprint. Desktop printers are useful for lower-volume printing applications.
These printers are small enough to carry around and can print without cables, making them ideal for printing barcode labels on-the-go and streamlining workflows. Look for mobile printers that withstand rugged environments, Honeywell’s RPe mobile receipt printer withstands drops and exposure to dust and water, and is designed for all-day printing with full-shift battery life.
The optimal size for your printer will depend on how many labels you need to print, and where you need them to be printed. If you need a smaller printer and don’t have much space, a desktop printer will be ideal. If you need to print labels on-the-go, mobile printers may be your best bet. If you’re more concerned with high output than you are with saving space, you will want to consider an industrial printer.
Also consider what add-ons you may need, like an integrated barcode verifier to double-check labels as they are being printed and ensure accuracy. These are ideal for operations subject to fines levied against them for unreadable barcodes.
Making the Right Choice
Choosing the right printer can improve the speed of your workers, optimize the labeling process, and boost productivity as well as accuracy. Make sure you choose your label printer based on your individual needs, and what will help you address them.
It also helps to have a provider that is familiar with the issues facing the industry, as well as the various types of printers and their specific uses. A reputable provider, like the experts at Informs, can see details you may have missed, or diagnosed needs that you may not have thought your printer could address.
For more information on how to select the right barcode printing hardware, or available products, contact Informs today!
As companies look for ways to create more customized and branded packaging, color label printing has grown in importance. Use of color has also extended to barcode printing – designers want their packaging to make a visual impact, without having to accommodate a strictly black and white barcode on the box.
However, color barcodes come with caveats – if you use the wrong color combination, the code will be difficult (or impossible) to scan. When choosing colors for your barcode labels, you have to take the barcode scanner into consideration, along with barcode spacing and contrast. Some scanners, like Honeywell’s Xenon 1900 Color area-imaging scanner, utilize ColorFusion Technology which allows color images to be captured, even at high contrast, without sacrificing performance. However, many general purpose scanners lack the technology required to get a good read, so you’ll need to ensure that you are designing color barcode labels to overcome the challenges of contrast and color combination.
Contrast is critical. If there isn’t enough contrast between the bar code and background, most scanners will have a difficult time reading the barcode. Those failed scans can cause costly problems down the road.
Laser barcode scanners use a light source that operates in the red portion of the color spectrum. Because of this, these scanners have difficulty with the colors red and yellow (red essentially shows as “white” to these scanners). Laser scanners will have an easier time reading barcodes that are printed in dark colors with a high contrast compared to the background color. The lower the contrast, the harder it is to scan the code.
This is why most barcodes are printed in black and white; that combination provides the highest level of contrast. For companies that want to add more color to their packaging, there are a few simple rules to follow when selecting a color combination for barcode labeling.
Selecting a Readable Color Barcode Combination
Make sure you select colors that are compatible with the barcode scanners you are using, and always keep contrast in mind.
Examples of Good Color Combinations: The best combinations for barcodes include bars that are dark blue, dark green, dark brown, or black, and backgrounds that are white, or in the yellow or red spectrum. Remember, laser scanners identify red as white, providing a colorful background option that won’t affect contrast.
Examples of Bad Color Combinations: Poorly designed color barcodes include bars that are white or in the red or yellow spectrum, or backgrounds that are too dark, or in the blue or black part of the spectrum.
There are other factors to consider as well. When designing your barcode, do so with CMYK and reference a color management system (CMS) to assure a quality reproduction of the desired color for the labels. In addition, avoid labeling materials that are reflective. Even a slight reflection on the label can affect contrast, so make sure you select labels and overlays that won’t cause scanning issues.
And make sure there are a few millimeters of space around the entire code (sometimes referred to as a light zone or quiet zone) to help ensure reliable scanning. This area should be free of text, marks, or other printed items. The quite zone should be a minimum of 10 times the width of the narrowest bar of a linear barcode, or one cell width on each of the symbols for 2D barcodes. The quite zone allows the scanner to see the entire code.
Make sure you test the barcode label with different scanners to make sure it will be readable both in your own facility and for downstream supply chain partners. As long as you follow the basic contrast rules (dark colors for the bars, light colors or red for the background) you should be able to produce an attractive and readable color barcode.
Make working smarter, not harder, your New Year’s resolution! Informs and Honeywell can help you achieve this goal with the newest innovation in printing solutions – Honeywell Smart Printers. By integrating the functionality of a personal computer into a Smart Printer, businesses are able to boost productivity, reduce operating costs and improve accuracy.
Informs brings you Honeywell Smart Printing technology, where the “intelligence” of a computer is actually inside the printer, completely eliminating the need for a connected PC. Smart Printing utilizes the memory and processing capabilities of advanced printers to connect to and control devices, run printing operations and integrate with enterprise systems. This is all accomplished independently, without requiring a network connection to a separate host computer.
This truly sets Smart Printers apart from standard models. Smart Printers run software applications and function as a programmable logic controller to other devices, such as scales, scanners and label applicators. Many Smart Printers provide software connectivity options to enterprise systems, essentially removing the need for middleware or custom interface development. Plus, Smart Printers are easier to install and quite simply, smarter by design.
Self-management is another invaluable attribute of Smart Printers. This enables the printer to: 1) monitor print quality, 2) automatically adjust bar code position to accommodate a failing printhead and 3) provide troubleshooting instructions to the operator when self-correction is not available. In high-volume, automated environments where downtime is not an option, Smart Printers that are compatible with enterprise device management systems are not only a bonus, but a must.
By eradicating the need for additional PCs and cables that require installation and maintenance, the simplified system architecture of Honeywell Smart Printers significantly lowers your total cost of ownership. And with more onboard memory than computer-dependent printers, Smart Printers speed up common maintenance tasks and maximize workflows. The bottom line – your New Year’s resolution to implement Smart Printing into your daily operations will help you lower IT, networking and support costs, simplify routine tasks and streamline overall printing processes. Now that’s the way to ring in a new year!
Let’s recap the numerous advantages of Honeywell Smart Printers.
Operates independently from a host computer.
Acts as a programmable logic controller for peripheral devices, such as scanners, scales and keyboards.
Drives databases that automatically include product codes, unit prices, customer ID numbers and the like in the printed output.
Processes multiple transactions, executes payment and runs standalone apps.
Connects instantly to scales, bar code scanners and other peripherals.
Formats variable data input into information on printed labels, receipts or documents.
Functions in mobile environments where wireless networks and host devices are not available.
Offers self-diagnostic, troubleshooting and remote management capabilities.
With a variety of Honeywell Smart Printer models available, Informs can help guide you to the perfect Smart Printing solution.
High Performance Printers
Mobile Label Printers
Mobile Receipt Printers
At Informs, we have the knowledge, training and expertise to guide you through the process of implementing Smart Printing technology into your organization. Contact us today for a FREE hands-on demo of one of the smartest decisions you’ll make this year!
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.