A busy warehouse has to contend with increased volumes of shipments and expedited delivery times. Utilising mobile devices in the warehouse can improve productivity and accuracy from picking to shipping. Although when warehouses already have a mobile solution implemented, what can a warehouse manager do to obtain the needed increase in productivity? Zerba recently conducted a study to see if the TC8000 mobile computer addresses the productivity barriers that effect warehouses.
Accurate and timely order picking in a warehouse is critical. It ensures delivery of the right products, at the right time, to the right customer. The volume of orders a warehouse can handle is dependent on the efficiency, accuracy and productivity of the order picker. Most warehouses have transitioned from paper-based to electronic systems. Thus trading paper forms for the instant delivery and collection of information at the point of task via wireless handheld mobile computers. Enterprises have already extracted the maximum available efficiency increases available through today’s handheld mobile computers. New operational challenges require warehouses to seek new ways to further increase productivity and accuracy. Online sales and home delivery are creating a major increase in order volume and SKUs. Expedited service has become the norm, requiring orders to be fulfilled faster.
Zebra’s research concluded that the traditional ‘gun style’ mobile computers required pickers to perform two steps in order to complete a ‘scan and verify.
- The barcode was scanned;
- In order to see the information displayed on the screen for task verification, workers were forced to tilt the gun-style mobile computers up to see the screen.
With an average of three sets of ‘scan and verify’ per item picked, this non-value added wrist motion interrupted the workflow and increased cycle time and motion overhead. The result was reduced worker productivity and efficiency and increased worker fatigue.
Based on this research insight, Zebra designed a mobile device that could eliminate the wasted tile motions – the TC8000. This would need to be a handheld that only had a single plane user interface. The tilt motions were the result of the dual-plane user interface in today’s gun-style mobile computers, which must be held in one plane to scan, and a second plane to enable users to view the screen. The new design replaced the dual plane interface with a single plane that allowed users to scan and view the screen with a single motion. The ‘line of sight’ display configuration does two things:
- Eliminate the ’tilt’ motions completely
- Result in a major increase in worker productivity by reducing the physical motion and effort associated with picking
Once the TC8000 was developed Zebra began testing. These tests show the following productivity benefits that an optimally configured TC8000 with an all-touch terminal emulation interface delivers over gun-style mobile computers:
- Picking scan rate of 8/min or less: 7% to 10%
- Picking scan rate of 11-15/min: 13% to 15%
- Picking scan rate of 20/min or higher: greater than 22%
The majority of the productivity benefits are related to the following picking sub tasks:
- Scanning, verifying and picking through reduced wrist motion and line of sight presentation of information
- Handeling and placing products in totes through the ability to hold the TC8000 and handle items
The result is a projected productivity increase for the TC8000 versus a traditional gun-style mobile computer in the range of 7% to double digits.