Skip to main content

Logistics and warehousing companies are facing unprecedented business challenges in 2018. E-commerce and globalization are increasing the level of competition for distribution centers every day. Elevated shipping costs at major carriers like FedEx and USPS are squeezing margins thinner than ever before, and product diversification demands from the consumer have never been greater. With profits threatened from so many angles, smart warehouse managers understand the need to continuously improve their infrastructure and procedures to promote organizational efficiency and minimize sources of wasted time and money. Mobile computing carts are a key investment opportunity for warehouse managers today. These versatile systems can be used to facilitate business process improvement, leading to fewer errors, reduced labor costs and increased efficiency for many daily activities. Here are some of the most important ways that mobile cart technology can impact the bottom line of your warehousing business.

Mobile Cart Technology Facilitates Increased Receiving, Packing and Put-Away Efficiency

Receiving is the most important process in any warehousing facility. Poor accuracy and efficiency in receiving, packing, and storing new inventory can have disastrous effects on downstream processes, leading to lost inventory and order picking errors that waste time and crush your profit margins.

Mobile cart technology increases efficiency by enabling employees to conduct all of the critical tasks associated with receiving in a single, centralized location. Mobile cart technology supports diverse equipment configurations that can include large label printers, barcode scanners, and even point-of-sale.

A mobile workstation with a computer and bar-code scanner allows employees to instantaneously scan bar-coded inventory and verify correct entries into your firm’s inventory management system. A printer can be added which allows the employee to quickly create labels for products and pallets without walking to and from a stationary printing station. This type of optimization minimizes distractions and interruptions for the worker, allowing them to pack and put away new inventory more quickly and efficiently while minimizing errors.

Optimize Your Workflows with Mobile Computing Carts

A business is a system of repeatable processes that generates a profit. Workflows are the action steps that make up those processes, and effective warehouse managers understand that an optimal workflow is one that costs less, takes less time, and produces fewer errors while still achieving the intended result.

Let’s imagine a workflow for picking a small order at a warehouse that uses stationary workstations:

  1. Read the order on the computer screen.
  2. Take note of the first item and its location.
  3. Walk to the correct location and retrieve the item.
  4. Walk the item back to the workstation.
  5. Scan the item out of inventory and sort it into an outgoing container.
  6. Take note of the second item and its location.
  7. Walk to the correct location and retrieve the item.
  8. Walk the item back to the workstation.
  9. Scan the item out of inventory and sort it into an outgoing container.
  10. Attach a shipping label to the container.
  11. Walk the container to the shipping bay where it can be sent out of the warehouse.

The steps to complete the process are logical, but this workflow actually presents a number of issues that can lead to errors and waste. Stationary workstations necessitate twice as many walking steps for your employees as mobile workstations, time and effort that is essentially wasted. Further, employees walking around the warehouse can become distracted or forgetful, which invariably leads to mistakes in outgoing orders.

By taking a workstation with them when picking orders, employees never have to remember the contents of an order or where to find an item, and they can scan and label items as soon as they’re retrieved. Most importantly, your employees can pick orders significantly faster, and that increase in productivity means more profits for your organization.

Mobile Cart Technology Reduces Errors, Adding to Your Bottom Line

It’s difficult to add to your business revenue without increasing your workload. For a warehouse that operates at a 10% profit margin, it’s often much easier to find $10,000 worth of efficiency than to do an extra $100,000 worth of business.

Imagine a warehouse that makes errors in outgoing orders just 3% of the time. Factoring in the time wasted picking, packing and shipping the order, the cost of shipping a new order with the correct items, the time spent on customer service, the need to reverse or modify a transaction, etc., the cost of individual order picking errors often balloons to $250 or more. If you’re picking 100 orders per day, that’s $750 you’re throwing away every single day.

When workers walk between your storage areas and a stationary workstation, they can get distracted by other workers or activities, wasting time and invariably leading to shipping errors. Mobile workstations used for receiving also help ensure accurate put-away of inventory, ensuring that your employees can easily track down items in your facility.

Putting it all Together

Mobile workstations are an investment in a more functional and profitable warehouse. By streamlining your key processes and empowering your workers to accomplish more in less time, you’ll be able to increase efficiency and task accuracy while driving down labor costs and reducing costly errors.

Excellent inventory management allows you to reduce safety stock (your counts and projections are more accurate), and your warehouse will become a more attractive destination for shipping companies that want organized and proactive partners to grow with.

Warehouses that invest in mobile workstations and elevate their efficiency in 2018 have the best chance of staying ahead of their competitors in the years to come.