- Roughly 50% of warehousing and logistics organizations will upgrade handheld devices of choice to keep pace with increased customer service demands coupled with rising labor costs, DC Velocity reported.
- IT departments supporting warehouse operations are making the call as a result of a perception of immature deployment, or a lack of the most recent industry updates.
- Further, the decision by Microsoft to cease support for Microsoft Windows Mobile, Windows CE and Windows Embedded Handheld — some of the most popular applications in the field — has alienated many customers. An awareness of new offerings by other providers — including data collection and processing plus inventory management, package delivery verification and digital exchange — have grown more appealing as a result.
Device upgrades are driven by a variety of needs, especially as warehouses and distribution centers spread and expand.
Accordingly, the appeal of new technology is expanding rapidly. "With the end of extended support for Windows Mobile and Windows CE coming fast, it’s critical that new warehouse technology is built on a sustainable supported platform," Mark Wheeler, Director of Supply Chain Solutions at Zebra Technologies, told Supply Chain Dive. Wheeler said the industry has largely settled on Android-based devices as the best platform for this technology.
New technology also benefits the supply chain. "Most warehouses are being challenged to turn orders faster than ever, and meeting this challenge means leveraging real-time mobile technology throughout the warehouse," Wheeler continued.
"Warehouse mobile technology is different from most other mobile applications. It’s typically used in a more intense manner for the worker’s entire shift. The standard warehouse worker is interacting with the technology hundreds to thousands of times per shift, making it critical that the form factor and other design aspects are optimized for the role and task at hand. Getting this right will pay off in terms of better usability, higher task accuracy and productivity."
The newest features are well integrated into serving supply chain needs. "Passive UHF RFID is growing in supply chain applications. It is well suited to track both assets and inventory as the tag costs have come down significantly," Wheeler noted. "Active Real-Time Location Solutions (RTLS) are growing in many use cases including in the warehouse. This technology can track people, assets and materials in real time at nearly any precision required. This technology can drive greater efficiency in task assignment and it can enable continuous improvement through greater visibility, as well as improve operational safety."
The combination of new technologies are most effective when deployed collectively. "Increasingly, however, it is the combination of these technologies (sensor-fusion) plus analytics that can be very powerful when applied to specific business processes," Wheeler concluded.