Warehouse Management System (WMS) Tech Stack: Ditch the RF Guns
The modern DC or warehouse tech stack is changing. RF guns are being time studied against newer tablet-based systems and losing badly (half as fast and 2x more costly). Smaller warehouses that use paper are jumping straight to tablet, or upgrading from RF guns. And while paper can’t be called part of anyone’s tech stack, it’s still in use, but no clipboard (with time-consuming, inaccurate inventory counts), is going to make it in today’s fast-paced world of eCommerce fulfillment. Businesses have to make a big shift, not only on the marketing side but on the fulfillment side. As a result, the RF gun with its constant verifications, small keypads, and hard to read screens, have become yesterday’s technology. Tablets are replacing the RF gun with a bigger display, intuitive graphics, and an easy to learn touch interface.
Many companies are still using the RF gun to conduct inventory management, scan in new items, and pick orders. Yet cost and time studies show RF gun solutions typically cost double and are half as fast as modern solutions. WarehouseOS is a tablet-based solution from HOJ Innovation that uses apps to receive products, manage inventory, perform cycle counting, conduct single picks or batch picking, verify items picked and pack them into boxes.
An easy to navigate user interface means warehouse personnel need almost no training before performing warehouse tasks. Receiving, put-away, picking, and packaging quickly become the easiest jobs on the floor.
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.
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 RF guns and are demonstrating double picking rates after only 10 minutes of training with enclosures mounted to mobile picking carts. With the help of materials handling experts these tablet-based solutions are often integrated with a company’s ERP system to distribute customer orders directly to warehouse personnel for highly efficient order fulfillment and accurate inventory management. These fully integrated solutions can rapidly fulfill orders by picking with full product visualization. The integration to ERP software is accomplished by utilizing the powerful API’s of the WarehouseOS® software, seamlessly integrated into a facility within a few weeks.
“These fully integrated solutions can rapidly fulfill orders by picking with full product visualization.”
Metrics Leader Board
A new feature added to the WarehouseOS 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). The Leader Board provides full visibility of the progress of orders on an hourly basis. The Leader Board shows 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.
“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.”
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 the plant’s LAN, this new technology can cut the order processing time in half. The software is composed of several applications that work in concert with one another and directs work between all tablets on the warehouse floor. The system is built on a database that manages the data flow to and from the iPads and the server. Knowing what is on the floor, identifying errors, and achieving newfound accuracy and speed is a bottom-line impact that portends the demise of the RF gun.