Transforming Distribution in a Fast-Paced World
In today's fast-paced distribution environment, the margin for error has considerably reduced while demand for personalized, high volume orders continues to increase. Warehouse and distribution center managers must leverage state-of-the-art tools to minimize errors, boost productivity, and guarantee customer satisfaction.
The receiving area, a critical component of these operations, is prone to errors that can ripple across the entire warehouse. An inefficient receiving process not only reduces a material handler’s efficiency, but also impacts labor, productivity, and profitability.
Mobilizing the Receiving Process: The Case for Mobile Workstations
“All of these activities must be supported and optimized,” says Kevin Ledversis, Newcastle Systems’ sales director. “By focusing on reducing receiving errors and inefficiencies, companies can significantly improve the flow of their entire warehouses while also ensuring higher levels of accuracy.”
A compelling example can be seen in California’s largest supplier of fresh berries. By employing mobile receiving stations that run on their own battery power, the company reduced the processing time for each truck from 45 minutes to 30 minutes—translating into an annual savings of about $22,000.
Addressing Receiving Challenges with Mobile Power
Many companies face challenges with inventory sitting for days on their docks. This situation, coupled with the high cost of human labor in logistics, necessitates a more efficient approach. Mobile-powered workstations offer an effective solution by minimizing unnecessary "touches" and the number of steps workers take on the warehouse floor. “If you cut your motion in half, you can double productivity,” says Ledversis. “I’ve seen people walking four hours a day without any production. When they convert to mobile power, they find they have freed up almost half a shift of productivity they never knew existed.”
The Power of Mobile Carts in Streamlining Operations
By eliminating paperwork and relying on mobile carts that are equipped with an integrated power system used to power laptops, barcode printers or scanners, companies can effectively boost dock-to-stock cycle time, reduce labor by as much as $10,000 per worker, reduce the number of improperly labeled products, and minimize inaccurate inventories.
“When you take paper out of the equation, and then factor in the many other advantages of using mobile carts for receiving,” says Ledversis, “the benefits are remarkable.”
The Challenges of Traditional Receiving Operations
While all activity starts at the point of receiving, achieving optimal productivity, cost control, efficiency, and high performance can be challenging. Warehouses and DCs often grapple with high labor costs, redundant processes, inaccurate inventory data, poor facility layout, and seasonal business fluctuations.
Leveraging Mobile-Powered Workstations
Designed to provide true mobility in a facility, mobile-powered workstations are helping warehouse and DC managers solve their pressing challenges while also enhancing worker productivity, operational efficiency, and organizational profitability. These mobile workstations not only reduce the time spent by workers on unproductive tasks but also give workers access to a full PC or laptop on the DC floor.
Operations with high volumes of receiving have achieved up to 65% higher velocity and over $10,000 of savings per position per year by using mobile workstations.
Conclusion: The Way Forward with Mobile Workstations
So, instead of workers having to walk over to a static workstation to print labels or use a computer 100 or more times during a shift, they can wheel all of that equipment along with them on an independently-powered cart. This shift not only saves significant labor costs but also increases the overall efficiency of the operation.
“You can literally bring our station right up to the pallet that needs to be received, break it down into a manageable project, and cut down on double-handling of those orders,” says John O’Kelly, president, Newcastle Systems.
With these clear benefits and significant savings, the case for mobile workstations in receiving operations is undeniable. As logistics operations continue to seek affordable ways to streamline their operations, mobile workstations are fast becoming the tool of choice for forward-thinking managers.