The Right Hardware for Your Warehouse Operations

June 17, 2013

Authored by Alana Smith, TeamCain

In our past blog posts, we’ve discussed the importance of mobile solutions in your warehouse operations as well as the benefits of automated data collection (ADC). Our partners over at RF-SMART hosted a webinar on the things to remember when selecting the right hardware for your warehouse operations and so we’d like to share some of their insight.

Selecting the right scanning device is a very important piece to your ADC implementation and it’s important to keep in mind that the equipment meets your requirements and unique needs, not the other way around. The example that they use on the webinar is if you have an alphanumeric part number you wouldn’t want a device with only a numeric keypad. Another example is if you have to scan a label that’s at ceiling level, the scanner should have an extended range laser. Every warehouse is different so what might work for Company A might not work for Company B. But across all warehouses, you need to be aware of your environment, where the device is being used and how your users are using the device. 

There are four characteristics that you can use to determine if the scanner will work for you. The first is if it’s easily adoptable. Dedicated function keys are gold and an easy-to-use scanner won’t affect productivity. The second characteristic is the efficiency of the device. Faster transactions, the right scan engine, scanning distance capabilities and again, an easy-to-use scanner will all help your users increase your overall warehouse efficiency. The third characteristic is the ease of device support from IT staff. In some instances, the IT staff is responsible for the warehouse scanning devices should any issue arise, so you’ll want to make sure that the software can translate across all avenues. The final characteristic is the reliability and dependability of the scanner. If it connects to your wireless network quickly and won’t break if dropped accidentally, then you are good to go! 

As mentioned earlier in this post, you need to be aware of your warehouse environment when selecting the right hardware to use. If you work in a rugged or dirty warehouse, with dust and dirt and water flying everywhere, you’ll want equipment that can withstand that. You need to know how your facility is designed – do you have narrow aisles? That might prevent your users from getting a good scan if the barcode is on the 3rd level. Believe it or not, florescent lighting can also dim out or glare on your labels, thus conflicting with the scanner so it’s good to keep in mind your warehouse lighting. Also, the temperature of your warehouse will affect which scanning device you go with, especially if you need to go into cooler areas or outside. Your environment can even impact your scanning labels so if smudging and tearing could be an issue, you’ll need to invest in long lasting labels.

And it’s not just the scanner that you need to keep in mind but the printer as well. You’ll want to make sure that you select a printer that can support the volume of what you’re printing. If you’re printing 5000 labels via a desktop printer, it might be tricky to make it work in your warehouse. If that situation, you’d be better to go with a tabletop or industrial printer that is durable and can handle high volumes.

You’ll also need to determine if you need a fixed or mobile printer and this really depends on your warehouse situation. You could have a central fixed printer located in the middle of the warehouse but a fixed printer might not be best for the workers on the receiving dock across the warehouse. A mobile printer would suit them best as they can print the labels and apply right there where they are.

You can watch the recording of the RF-SMART webinar here or click here for more information on this solution.

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