The need for increased visibility, accuracy and efficiency within warehouse environments is stronger than ever.
The role of today's warehouse is changing; gone are the days where a warehouse is simply a space to store inventory and exchange goods. Warehouse operators are working in fast-paced and often decentralized environments and under time-sensitive schedules, to keep up with consumers' 'need it now' culture and meet their service expectations.
Consumers' expectations are shifting; they expect to be able to place an order with a retailer and receive overnight delivery, or collect the order at their local store the next day. This growing demand for overnight order fulfilment requires faster order picking to meet delivery expectations, resulting in increased pressure for businesses to maintain both accuracy and consumer satisfaction standards.
According to a study by Roy Morgan, Australians spent $41.3 billion on e-commerce last year, and 79% of Australians prefer purchasing goods online (in comparison to traditional in-person shopping). This growth of e-commerce brings increased complexity for warehouse operations, shifting from shipping cases of items to a store, to delivering individual items to consumers' homes. This is estimated to result in a 60% increase in warehouse SKUs by 2020.
Warehouse process complexity is going to amplify with a predicted 74% increase in the volume of items shipped over the next five years, and a 64% inventory turnover annually, resulting in an increased need for inventory visibility, accuracy and efficiency.
To compete in today's hyper-competitive market, accuracy is more critical than ever, as anything less than perfection in order fulfilment can result in a lost customer. As a result, businesses are constantly on the lookout for productivity and accuracy enhancing solutions for their warehouse and distribution centres to achieve competitive differentiation within the market.
Visualize a warehouse where operators are able to freely move around and perform their duties more efficiently, without the constraints of a desktop computer or tethered scanner. A warehouse that is able to process and ship more orders per day- without adding staff. Where the correct items are delivered on time, satisfying consumers' expectations and as a result, increasing consumer satisfaction and loyalty. This is all possible with wearable technologies. While warehouse operators have been using wearable computers for years, we are now seeing a new generation of wearable technology. These devices offer a new standard in enterprise wearable technology that not only delivers superior hands-free mobility, but also provides in-depth information to direct users to a pick item or show them how to lift an item safely. In addition, the advancement in the device ergonomics, superior manageability and intuitive interface empowers users to work smarter and faster by receiving real-time updates and instructions with the aid of hands-free devices.
Wearable devices can enable businesses to achieve increased productivity in daily operations. In fact, a recent survey by VDC Research found that 85% of users are motivated to invest in warehouse wearable initiatives in order to increase employee productivity. Benefits also include improved operational efficiencies, increased order accuracy and delivery times, simplified processes for employees and improved workplace health and safety - resulting in increased employee and consumer satisfaction.
1. Increased Productivity
Wearable devices increase employee productivity by 15% when used as part of a total wearable solution, by eliminating the need for operators to hold a tablet, radio or scanner while completing tasks. Leaving both hands free to complete operational activities means daily tasks such as replenishing inventory, moving packages or picking orders can be completed quickly and more efficiently.
2. Faster Delivery Times
The productivity-enhancing benefits that wearable devices provide assists warehouse operators in managing the growing demand for faster order turnaround. Staff can pick orders faster and more accurately, meeting delivery expectations and protecting customer satisfaction levels.
3. Increased Order Accuracy
When wearable devices are used for order picking, customers can count on receiving the correct items in every delivery. With wearable computers, order pickers view the pick location and a map displaying the most efficient route to pick the order. When used in conjunction with a Bluetooth 1D/2D ring scanner you have a 39% reduction in picking errors and the perfect enterprise-class wearable solution.
4. Intuitive Devices Simplifying Processes
These intuitive and easy to use devices are on par with smartphone usability. Requiring minimal operator training, new staff are up and running within a day. Work processes are made simpler and the devices superior ergonomics improve user comfort and as a result increase employee satisfaction. Using these devices is only going to become simpler for warehouse operators, as Windows operating systems reach their end of life support and shift to Android. This will allow users to take advantage of a familiar interface, reducing the time taken to train staff and implement new devices.