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  May 4, 2016
Warehouses Move to Tablet Technology (#DitchtheRF)
by Thomas R. Cutler

Warehouse Mobile Solutions, makers of WarehouseOS, recently exhibited at MODEX in Atlanta, GA, the largest materials handling show in North America. Coining the Twitter hashtag #ditchtheRF, there is a strong movement to tablets as the preferred mechanism in materials handling.

When it comes to productivity in the warehouse, too often plant managers and distribution center managers confuse how software and scanners impact the time it takes to fulfill customer orders. Having employees tethered to cumbersome hand-held terminals while trying to key in information on a small, hard-to-read screen prevents maximized picking rates and optimal order accuracy.

These are the data of the new Tablet solution versus the older RF Gun technology
  • Productivity is improved by 100% using the tablet vs. the RF Gun
  • Picks per hour are clocked at 600+ better than the RF Gun

New solutions are moving away from the RF guns and are demonstrating double picking rates after only 10 minutes of training with enclosures mounted to mobile picking carts. The company recently completed the installation of its Tablet Directed, Barcode/Order Fulfillment Solution, at Hot Shots Distributing located in Charlotte, North Carolina. For nearly two decades the company has been supplying the fiery food industry with over 1,400 fiery products. Utilizing the latest version of WarehouseOS, Version 2.0, fully integrated with Hot Shots ERP system, order fulfillment, and inventory management are now a paperless process.

After an extensive search to find a software solution capable of providing full inventory control and the ability to fulfill customer orders utilizing visualization without the need of cumbersome hand-held scanners, Hot Shots Distributing "Hot Shots" selected this warehouse management solution After an extensive search to find a software solution capable of providing full inventory control and the ability to fulfill customer orders utilizing visualization without the need of cumbersome hand-held scanners, Hot Shots Distributing "Hot Shots" selected this warehouse management solution.

The software was integrated with Hot Shots ERP system to distribute customer orders directly to warehouse personnel for highly efficient order fulfillment and extremely accurate inventory management. This fully integrated solution Hot Shots can rapidly fulfill orders by picking with full product visualization. The integration to Hot Shots ERP software was done utilizing the powerful API's of the WarehouseOS software, seamlessly integrated into a facility within a few weeks.

A new feature added to the product is the Metrics Leader Board. This leader board is displayed on a larger screen LCD mounted in the warehouse (or on a laptop monitor in a supervisor's office) provides full visibility of the progress of orders on an hourly basis. The metrics leader board was customized for Hot Shots to show the overall progress of orders to be fulfilled for both the current day in addition to all orders in queue. As units are picked by operators the total quantity is displayed in real-time on an hour per hour basis throughout the day. If the number of orders to be shipped for the entire day will not be achieved based on the current hourly rate, the hourly progress bar turns red indicating to the pickers they are falling behind. An image of each operator is displayed on a scrolling bar indicating their overall units picked for the day and average units picked per hour. The operator with the highest hourly rate is highlighted in red, indicating to the other operators who is the fastest picker for the day. This feature can be utilized to reward high achieving employees and incentivize others to improve their picking rates.

The Warehouse Mobile Solutions system implemented for Hot Shots incorporates 10 iPads mounted in New Lite injection molded enclosures utilizing a quick disconnect system and 16 mobile picking carts, each equipped with a swivel bracket designed to accept the iPad Lite enclosures. This unique design allows operators to store and pick products without the use of paper or cumbersome hand-held mobile terminals. Operators simply scan items and locations as directed by the mounted tablet devices. The tablets are controlled wirelessly by a system manager, Tablet Director, which releases orders, schedules operators' activities, and tracks in-process orders throughout the entire order fulfillment process.

Whether through the cloud or integrated in plant facility LAN, this new technology creates a highly effective and efficient warehouse management system created by warehouse professionals to cut the order processing time in half. Composed of several applications that work in concert with one another, directs work between all tablets on the warehouse floor. The system operates in conjunction with a SQL Database that can get work done faster and better than any RF Gun solution. The data flow to and from the iPads ensures clean data flow back to host and management. Knowing what is on the floor, identifying errors, and celebrating newfound accuracy and speed is a bottom-line impact that portends the demise of the RF Gun.

Thomas R. Cutler is the President & CEO of Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based, TR Cutler, Inc., (www.trcutlerinc.com) Cutler is the founder of the Manufacturing Media Consortium including more than 6000 journalists, editors, and economists writing about trends in manufacturing, industry, material handling, and process improvement. Cutler authors more than 500 feature articles annually regarding the manufacturing sector. Cutler is the most published freelance industrial journalist worldwide and is now the host of Kanbanversation, a weekly episodic video discussion. Cutler can be contacted at trcutler@trcutlerinc.com and can be followed on Twitter @ThomasRCutler. See More Details.

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