As we discussed a couple of months ago, mobile warehouse applications (apps) are exploding onto the manufacturing and distribution scene. As manufacturing and distribution companies continue to bring smartphones and tablets into the warehouse environment, these apps are only going to get smarter and allow companies to perform more work with their mobile devices. In anticipation of this, companies need to have a plan for creating a more mobile warehouse. Thankfully, mobility is here to stay and companies need to incorporate these mobile solutions into every aspect of the warehouse environment to see true warehouse automation.
The benefits of implementing mobile technology in the warehouse
The real-time savings of mobile warehouse applications, such as Scanco Counts and Scanco Sales, extends far beyond the warehouse. The benefits of having real-time inventory visibility throughout the company are endless, as it improves efficiency in the warehouse, on the production line, and in the sales and delivery departments. The information gathered via mobile devices can also aid companies in achieving strategic business objectives, such as:[gearlist]
- The reduction in transportation costs through the tighter scheduling and management of product shipments
- Faster invoicing and payment cycles due to real-time visibility in the shipping process
- Reduced inventory stocking levels
- Reduced stock-outs, which can lead to an increase in sales
- The ability to provide customers with real-time information regarding their order status, helping to improve customer satisfaction and retention rates
- The ability to utilize warehouse space more effectively in order to provide greater business value (this could include expanding the production line to add new products or increase capacity)
Mobile applications also deliver a faster return on investment (ROI) than their stationary counterparts. If your company is using mobile apps to manage inventory and/or warehouse processes, the below results can often be measured in a few months instead of years:] [gearlist]
- Customer service improves almost immediately as stock-outs are eliminated and customers have more accessibility to their order status.
- The cost of operating the warehouse is reduced.
- The overall cost of doing business is reduced.
- Picking accuracy is improved.
To compete in today’s warehouse environment, your company must be proactive and responsive. Mobile technology gives you the tools to be both. By incorporating mobile apps and devices into your warehouse, you are setting your company up for success. Mobile devices can increase your visibility throughout the supply chain, no matter how many warehouses or locations you have. If you are serious about creating a more mobile warehouse, you will need to adopt mobile strategies in the following areas: receiving, returns, cross-docking, put-away, replenishment, picking, sorting, packing, and shipping.
Deploying mobility in the warehouse
Your approach to deploying mobility in the warehouse needs to be disciplined and well thought-out. You can take several approaches when it comes to deploying mobility across your organization; however, it is important that you take great care to avoid any disruptions it may cause in your day-to-day activities. Keep the following steps in mind as you prepare to deploy mobile solutions in the warehouse:
- Define your objectives for implementing mobility in the warehouse. What are your goals? How will your company benefit from mobile devices and/or apps? Back these objectives up with quantitative measurements so you can measure the success of your implementation.
- Evaluate your warehouse processes according to the objectives you just created. Reengineer the processes that don’t align with your new objectives.
- Evaluate your warehouse environment to make sure it is suitable for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. If you need to, write down a list of technological requirements you need in the warehouse.
- Determine your solution requirements. What devices will you be using? What software or applications will you need?
- Create a plan for implementation and involve all end-users in this plan.
- Choose a vendor for your mobile solution – don’t just pick a software.
- Test the solution before you go-live to work out any potential errors in the system.
- Deploy your mobile solution and train users to effectively use their devices for optimum efficiency.
- Perform periodic measurements of the business objectives you laid out in step one.
Creating a more mobile warehouse takes time, but the end result is worth all of the effort. If you are looking for a solution provider to guide you through the process, contact us today. We not only offer a variety of Sage 100 (formerly MAS 90 / MAS 200) and Sage 500 (formerly MAS 500) mobile solutions to fit your warehouse management needs, but we also help implement these systems to work out any problems you may be experiencing.
Do you think mobile solutions will transform the warehouse environment as we know it? Give us your opinion below.