The past five years have dramatically altered the warehouse management landscape. Looking for improved efficiency and increased profitability, companies have adopted new technologies that have transformed the way various warehouse operations are conducted. In order to stay in the competition and keep up with the growing complexity of the business world, warehouses must implement advanced technologies and warehouse management hardware.
Warehouse management hardware – like warehouse management in general – has undergone a serious transformation. The introduction of wireless technology and mobility has launched a variety of new hardware products guaranteed to improve an organization’s productivity and – ultimately – profitability. Take a look at some of the newest warehouse management hardware solutions:
Warehouse Management System (WMS)
This is the most obvious – and commonly used- warehouse management hardware. Warehouse management systems are used to help companies control the movement and storage of materials within a warehouse. These systems are also used to process inventory transactions, such as shipping, receiving, picking and packing. Companies can gain real-time visibility into their stock and monitor the progression of products through their warehouses. Warehouse management systems often utilize a variety of warehouse management hardware (such as barcode scanners and mobile computers) to effectively monitor the placement and flow of their products in the warehouse.
Barcode Scanners (also known as Barcode Readers)
Barcode scanners emerged shortly after the introduction of wireless technology and have become a staple in many warehouses today. A barcode scanner is a hardware device used by many companies to read barcodes in the warehouse, print out product information or labels, and log products into the warehouse management system’s database. Barcode scanners can come in many sizes, shapes and forms depending on the company’s intended use for the hardware.
Barcode Label Printers
Barcode label printers work directly with a company’s warehouse management system to print product labels, bin labels and shipping labels. Generally cost-effective and easy to implement, barcode label printers help companies improve data management, data accessibility, and productivity.
Voice technology is new to the warehouse management hardware scene. Many companies are now using voice-directed picking hardware to determine the amount of goods to be picked up. These devices are fastened to a wireless computer, and data is transmitted to the device at the time of picking so the picker knows what to pick and the amount of items to be picked. Due to its time-saving advantages, many companies are considering adopting voice hardware into their warehouse management strategies despite its high cost.
A mobile computer is basically a barcode scanner with a display screen and its own operating system. The hardware was designed to act like a portable PC with barcode scanning capabilities. As mobility became more desirable, companies began to adopt more mobile warehouse management hardware solutions such as these. Mobile computers are highly beneficial to companies wishing to have more accessibility to real-time data and improved employee productivity rates.
While not the most common piece of warehouse management hardware, smartphones are beginning to emerge onto the hardware scene. Many companies have started using smartphones as data collection devices. Smartphones are able to operate in the physical world via barcode scanning and voice and image capture, as well as connect to other software solutions via the “cloud”. This gives companies the ability to securely create, update, and manage business information at anytime from anywhere. As the business world becomes more mobile, companies should expect smartphones to become a commonality among warehouse management hardware devices.
Today’s warehouse management hardware options are transforming warehouse processes as we know them. In order to remain successful, companies need to invest in emerging technologies solutions.
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