– Written by Rob Street (DCSC Guest Blogger)
These days I see mobile computers everywhere – in supermarkets where workers are restocking shelves, during entry at sporting events, and in hospitals. These devices also have an important place in warehouses where barcoding is a key part of an efficient warehouse management system. Along with mobile computers, a wireless network and thermal printers enable effective use of barcodes in a warehouse. Here are some tips for choosing and implementing the right equipment.
- A well designed wireless network with full coverage of the warehouse forms the backbone of the entire system. Choose a network provider who uses a survey tool designed to optimally locate the wireless access points. For an existing wireless network a site verification will confirm coverage. I follow a rule of thumb that one access point can cover about 20,000 sq.ft. However, this number can be higher or lower depending on what type of materials are in the warehouse, how close to the ceiling the racks go, whether there are internal walls, etc. Many companies use standalone access points. However, controller-based networks are commonly used in warehouses over 100,000 sq. ft.
- In most warehouses the activities cannot be done next to a stationary computer. Mobile handheld computers allow the workers to move around the warehouse and capture the results of the work at the spot it’s performed.
- Select a rugged handheld computer with a 6’drop-to-concrete spec. Generally the most appropriate devices for warehouses have pistol grips. Often location labels will be placed on high racks or hung from the ceiling, requiring long range scanners in the handhelds.
- Some warehouses who move a lot of pallets will mount terminals on their forklifts instead of using handheld computers.
- Ask the hardware provider to pre-configure the devices for wireless settings, battery life, Telnet connection, etc. Make sure the settings are saved on a PC so they can be restored on a handheld when it comes back from repair.
- Consider a remote device management software. It allows you to lock down the handhelds so that operators can’t change the settings. It also enables you to remotely investigate and resolve device problems that occur.
- To be able to scan a bar-code, you have to print a label. Two types of thermal printing technology exist – thermal transfer (with a ribbon) and direct thermal (without a ribbon). Warehouses use thermal transfer when the label might be subjected to harsh conditions or when it needs to last longer than a couple of months.
- Stationary thermal printers are workhorses for labeling products, packages, and shipments. Some warehouses also use mobile printers that allow the worker to take the labeling to the products and reduce the amount of walking.
Benefits of using this wireless technology in a warehouse include eliminating manual data entry with the errors that it causes, receiving products more quickly into the inventory database, and scanning shipments to verify that the correct products are included. Mobile computing and bar-code scanning are the true companions to the DCWarehouse Automation Software for these benefits.
If you have any questions or would like to work with the hardware provider who is experienced with DCWarehouse Automation software, please contact Rob Street, AbeTech Account Executive at 513-309-0520 or firstname.lastname@example.org