Warehouse automation technologies are improving the efficiency of the workforce and warehouse activities. Technology solutions such as scanners hold a strong place in maintaining agility and quality in warehouse management.
Scanning technologies are now considered a must-have rather than just a nice-to-have solution. Using scanners, various processes in a warehouse – receiving, picking, inventorying, and shipping - becomes easier with increased efficiency and reduced error rates.
Scanning technologies help in the smooth tracking of warehouse products from receipt to product delivery. The most commonly used tools include:
RF-based barcode scanners: RF-based scanners can simultaneously scan a number of items in a short amount of time. Microchips or tags need to be placed in the inventory for this type of scanner to work. RFID scanners pick up data quickly when the scanner is within the precinct of the tagged inventory. There are various types of RF-based scanners. Some first-generation RF-based scanners were USB handheld scanners, laser scanners, and pen scanners. Second-generation scanners, also known as barcode scanners, include wireless industrial scanners, smartphones and other apps. There are also stationary scanners, wearable warehouse scanners and more. However, unlike RFID tagged items, barcode tagged items must be scanned manually one item at a time.
Non-RF-based scanners or advanced scanners: Pick-to-light and pick-to-voice systems are types of scanners that are technologically advanced and the latest tools in the market. The pick-to-light systems work through the use of specific light displays and guide warehouse operators to the specific product location. It thus becomes easier for the operators to know exactly how many of each product to pick. This is a highly flexible technology that offers the capability to accurately plan and analyze the volume of picked orders. Pick-to-voice systems, on the other hand, utilize speech recognition technology and help in voice-directed operations in the warehouse. Through the interpretation of voice commands of the warehouse operator, the entire product picking operation is guided and controlled smoothly.
Scanning technologies have revolutionized warehouse operations to a large extent. If integrated properly with warehouse management systems, the use of scanning technologies provides numerous benefits:
Deciding which type of scanner best suits your warehouse requirements depends on a number of factors. Answer the following to help guide your decision:
After you have defined these requirements, it becomes easier to evaluate the types of scanners available and finally decide on the one that best suits your business requirements. You’ll also want o consider factors such as software requirements, added functionalities, and connectivity as well as charging requirements in the decision-making process.
If you have not made the switch to scanning technologies for warehouse management, now is the time. The market has plenty of safe, affordable options to choose from. Implementing the right technology or the right kind of scanner is the key to improving the efficiency of warehouse operations and reducing costly errors.
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