Mobile devices have become ubiquitous in the workplace and everywhere else. Their usage has grown considerably in 2014, with comScore reporting that in June, 60 percent of all devices accessing the Internet were smartphones and tablets, compared to 40 percent from desktop computers. As a consequence, integrating them into business operations isn't that difficult, since most employees on the shop floor likely have a mobile device of some kind on them. There are multiple aspects of running a company that can greatly benefit from using mobile. In the case of manufacturing, warehouse management can utilize mobile and be an incredibly effective and inexpensive tool in maintaining inventory.
No more scanners
In many ways, mobile device use in the warehouse is an evolution from using hand scanners to perform barcode data collection, according to Inbound Logistics. The first step has been the development of ruggedized mobile computers specifically designed for checking inventory, including scanning 1-D and 2-D barcodes for use in multiple inventories, small printers that can make barcodes for new parts off the assembly line and radio frequency identification functions for tracking the location of certain materials.
However, that situation has changed drastically with the rise of commercial-grade smartphones and tablets. These devices may not have the specialization that the computers mentioned above have, but what they lack in specific applications, they make up through ubiquity and ease of use. While an employee will have to be trained to use a new piece of hardware, he or she will more than likely have a personal smartphone, thus minimizing actual training.
There are other considerable benefits for mobile warehouse management that have come from smartphones and tablets. The first is cost. Smartphones, even those that have been ruggedized for use on the shop floor, tend to be far less expensive than a special-made handheld computer made especially in the work environment. More importantly, there are a lot more functions that a smartphone can perform without needing special add-ons and equipment. For example, cameras have gotten powerful enough that barcode scanning can be done without a reader. The software capabilities of mobile devices are much stronger as well, according to logistics firm Cognizant. Along with inventory management, the software in mobile devices can be used to oversee material processing. It can also work at the managerial level through functions such as business intelligence and label printing for custom orders.
For more information on improving efficiency with barcode technology, download the free white paper entitled "Keeping the Physical World and the Virtual World in Sync" from DMS today.