Companies aim for achieving supply chain efficiencies by reducing lead times and optimizing warehouse operations. One-way companies are ensuring supply chain efficiency is with mobile solutions. Panasonic recently released a report on improving supply chain efficiencies using mobile solutions. In its survey, 185 managers involved in the purchase and usage of mobile and wireless solutions have mentioned the challenges they regularly face in managing supply chain activities, and how mobile devices and applications can improve process proficiencies and accuracies. The report states the Supply chain areas that are in need of improvement – Warehouse/DC operations Shipping, receiving, dock Fulfillment center operations Manufacturing plant, facility operations Logistics and freight Field sales and support Yard operations and management Transportation and fleet personnel/drivers Field service or service bay technicians, specialists
As per its research, consumer grade and rugged mobile devices are used in companies equally used. However, Rugged Mobile devices will become more widespread in the coming years as they can withstand bumps and drops in these harsh environments.
66% of the surveyed Companies are planning to invest in mobile solutions over next 18 months.
Primary Applications for which companies are planning to implement and refresh/ expand mobile devices are
- Barcode scanning for inventory management and
- tracking Inventory tracking and management Picking,
- packing and sorting Shipping and
- receiving Restocking and put-away Item etc.
One of the characteristics considered most important when evaluating mobile devices is wireless connectivity. Wireless connectivity is important for employees/mobile users to stay updated in this connected world. However, users may not have access to internet due to network issues causing delays for performing tasks. So, mobile solution providers have come up with offline mobility features to perform tasks on the go. Under this, smart devices store performed tasks in cache and uploads the data once the device is connected to internet. Other characteristics considered important when evaluating mobile devices for supply chain efficiencies are-
- Minimal downtime Connectivity
- Communication capabilities within the warehouse/DC Display/Screen visibility Scanning capabilities/Scanning accuracy Battery life Compatibility with ERP platform and applications Durability (shock/dust/water resistant, operation in extreme hot or cold temperatures) User acceptance Security
Mobile Solutions Benefits
Companies are planning to upgrade/refresh existing mobile devices to maximize their supply chain benefits. Some of the benefits Warehouse and Logistics Managers can get by updating mobile solutions are
- Increasing process efficiencies,
- Meeting customer expectations of service levels/Improving customer satisfaction,
- Providing workers with suitable/ appropriate devices Fulfilling service orders more quickly, aligning labor capacity with estimated workload
- Decreasing cost to serve levels and
- Accurately capturing billable time and related information.
Warehouse areas where managers are planning to upgrade mobile solutions are Warehouse/DC ops, Shipping, receiving, DC ops etc. Overall, companies are finding mobile solutions useful for improving employee’s productivity and helpful for shippers gain seamless integration of workflows. As markets continue to grow and need for more real time information increases, mobility will gain an even stronger footing across the end-to-end supply chain.