How barcode scanning boosts supply chain efficiency
21 Oct 2020
ProGlove’s Axel Schmidt discusses the necessity for accurate and efficient barcode scanning to deliver traceability and efficiencies within the supply chain...
With new legislation coming into effect, along with consumer demands for a wider range of products, manufacturers will be required to handle and process an increasing number of parts and components for assembly.
This can present increasing challenges for businesses, especially those that operate with complex product variants and short product life cycles which can block the possibility of a fully automated facility.
Rapid growth of e-commerce has simplified the retail world for consumers, but increased the volume of work for vendors by as much as five times, according to research. Just-in-Time supply chains place the focus and pressure on logistics operations to deliver efficiency within the supply chain. Moreover, the number of shipping formats available creates an added roadblock to automation and the surge in demand for rapid fulfilment that comes hand in hand with peak periods only adds further complexity.
More than a quarter of data created will be real-time in nature by 2025. This is where barcode scanning plays a fundamental role
There is an increasing need for organisations to seamlessly document what they do and how they do it to meet compliance requirements. But this must not be at the cost of adding any additional time to the already tight schedules organisations need to adhere to in order to remain efficient and competitive.
Augmenting the workforce
Organisations need to be able to access and capitalise on real time data. Research from IDC predicts that more than a quarter of data created will be real-time in nature by 2025. This is where barcode scanning plays a fundamental role.
The concept of barcode scanning within the supply chain has been around for some time yet, the use of a conventional pistol scanner is fraught with challenges, such as the significant time lost for each worker due to the repetitive nature of picking up, using and holstering the scanner for each individual item.
Devices are also liable to breakages as they are easily dropped to the floor and as these are not ruggedised, replacements are regularly required. Another drawback of the pistol scanner is that it can be easily lost.
Wearable technology with in-built scan functionality can deliver a number of benefits to address these challenges. Minimising unnecessary and tiring repetitive actions and improving accuracy significantly increases the volume of work undertaken by each worker. With adjustable feedback options, such as acoustic signals, vibration and LEDs on the back of the hand, a worker receives immediate confirmation of correct product selection. This feedback not only minimises delays and errors, improving productivity, but also avoids worker frustration.
Display screens can also be connected to wearable terminals to provide workers with additional information, such as the location of the next pick. Unnecessary activity is removed as every movement is directly related to the task at hand. Through this augmentation of the workforce, efficiency can be rapidly transformed.
Supply chains will continue to get longer and more complex, and many retailers face the challenge of fulfilling their promises to their customers. In addition, fragmentation of supply chains is also on the rise. Wearable technology can be a critical link to deliver productivity and efficiency and allow organisations to quickly adapt to fluctuations in demand, giving them a much needed competitive edge.
Axel Schmidt is senior communications manager at ProGlove