Warehousing Solutions Series Motorola Solutions

25th April 2014

Within the warehousing industry there appears to be a growing trend in reverse logistics, this is a result of the rise of online shopping. Due to the fact people are able to now purchase clothes online this has meant that online returns are increasing and this is what has begun to cause problems in terms of warehouse storage (15%-40% of clothing bought online is now returned) being sent back and so much still in stock, over-crowding of products is becoming a real problem and as we all know problems can lead to mistakes and mistakes damage productivity.

In fact statistics show that 66% of supply chain managers cite transport or storage infrastructure constrains as one of their biggest challenges over the next 5 years, not only that but 33% of manufacturing companies are now considering re-shoring their production operations. This is because manufacturing companies are choosing to move manufacturing facilities closer to home in order to cut down on shipping costs but in doing so this requires more warehouse space, which again costs money. If this is to work their entire distribution network needs to evolve.

So what can be done to keep everything working smoothly and reduce the chance for error?

First and foremost is the technology and the processes, to maximise workforce efficiency the correct hardware must be in place.

Secondly the flexibility to manage and respond to your customers must be improved, increasing customer service levels and the speed and accuracy of fulfilment will result in a much more organised and streamlined environment. In order to achieve this though you must negate the product, technology and process based risks of managing a lean warehouse.

One hardware trend that is starting to gain traction is scanners capable of long range scanning, with this technology in place the time taken by the workforce scanning items is reduced as they don’t have to walk up to every single product and scan them slowly one at a time. Another useful technology is imagers in scanners, these allow the user to scan barcodes more easily through materials such as plastic or shrink wrap and another handy benefit is that when scanning 1D barcodes with an imager you no longer have to line them up like you would with a laser. So it seems scanners with imagers that can scan from long range may soon take off massively in my opinion and units such as the LS3408 (with an extended range of 0.6m to 13m scanning on 1D barcodes) and the DS3508 (with an extended range of up to 12m on 1D and 2D barcodes) are an example of hardware designed to increase productivity.

So overall it seems no industry is free from the effects of the internet and services such as online shopping and in order to not only maintain business but improve upon existing processes we must change and evolve with technology. Warehouses must be streamlined, the workforce must be well equipped and the returns and storage processes must become more integrated with wireless technology.