When Will We See the Shift to More Mobile Warehouses?

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Mobile-Warehouse-Management-ApplicationsUncovering the Revolution of Mobile Warehouse Management

Warehouses have been transitioning to a more mobile environment for many years now. In fact, when Scanco first started over 25 years ago, warehouses were already beginning to make the shift. The invention of mobile computers and barcode scanners ushered in a new era for warehouses and distribution centers across the world, allowing companies to become slightly more mobile with their technology and more efficient in their processes. None of these technologies, however, have been as transformative as smartphones and tablets.

The invention of the smartphone – and later the tablet – has changed the way people interact with each other and get things done. Twenty years ago, it was unheard of to access your email on your phone. For most people, “checking your email” required having access to a desktop computer and a dial-up Internet connection. Nowadays, email (and much more) can be accessed immediately via your smartphone or tablet, meaning – in essence – you can be reached at anytime, anywhere.

Businesses have already begun to take advantage of the mobile revolution, using smartphones and tablets to streamline processes, increase efficiency, decrease errors, and improve productivity. However, despite the benefits of using mobile devices in the workplace, those in the manufacturing and distribution industries have been much slower in mobile adoption than other industries.

What’s the Hold up for Going Mobile?

Manufacturers and distributors are slow to adopt mobile technology into the warehouse for several reasons. For one, many companies already see themselves as mobile and do not expect smartphones and tablets to really change the warehouse environment too drastically. Because many manufacturers and distributors already use barcode scanners and handheld computers, they aren’t in a rush to adopt the “newest” form of mobile technology. Additionally, many companies view mobile technology as a more costly investment than traditional warehouse management technology, leading them to view mobile as an incentive for only the largest and most profitable warehouses.

The truth is, going mobile does not have to be expensive nor difficult. Even if you are already using mobile technology in the form of handheld computers and barcode scanners, smartphones and tablets can revolutionize the way you manage your warehouse – if you let them. Understanding how these technologies can impact your company before making the decision to invest in them, however, is crucial if you want the technology to meet your expectations.

How is the Technology Really Being Used in Warehouse Environments?

Sure, we can spout off the benefits of using mobile technology in the office, but can we really justify the use of mobile technology in the warehouse? In a word, yes. As we discussed last week, we have had quite a few clients make the transition to a mobile warehouse environment successfully. They have not only seen gains in efficiency and productivity, but they have also seen financial gains as a result of their mobile implementation.

Manufacturers and distributors use smartphones and tablets in a number of different ways for a variety of different reasons, including:

  • Inventory counting (physical counts and cycle counts)
  • Monitoring inventory levels
  • Barcoding (scanning and printing)
  • Shipping
  • Receiving
  • Tracking shipments
  • Inputting data into the company’s ERP system

Realistically, mobile devices can be incorporated into every area of the warehouse – from the receiving deck to the delivery truck and everything in between. As more and more companies begin to understand the true benefits of going mobile and set aside their preconceived notions of what “mobile” really means, we will begin to see a lot more companies using the technology they already have in their hands.

While the adoption rates have been slow, experts predict mobile adoption rates to rise over the next 5 years. Will you be one of those companies who makes the switch? Why or why not? Share your thoughts on creating a mobile warehouse in the comments section underneath this post. We’d love to hear your thoughts!

Interested in seeing one of our Sage 100 mobile applications for yourself? Contact us today for a demonstration!