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Next-Generation Mobility Solutions Offer the Best in Form and Function

By Jeff Schmitz | 10/11/2018 | 10:34 AM

Intelligent enterprises are increasingly investing in platforms that can maximize workforce productivity and their return on investment (ROI) in the ever-evolving, on-demand economy. Mobility solutions are crucial for businesses to stay competitive and better support a workforce that relies on mobile technology to produce higher levels of visibility, reliability and accuracy. These devices must be functional, secure and compact for ease-of-use for today’s workers in multiple industries including retail, manufacturing, and transportation and logistics.

Designed to improve operations on the front-line of the workforce, mobile devices are ideal for a variety of uses both inside and outside of the warehouse. These devices are crucial to help in-store staff, direct store delivery (DSD) drivers, field service workers and first responders stay connected to their teams and make smart decisions in real time. Mobility solution devices also have an extensive range of benefits that can improve key day-to-day activities like inventory management, price/audit changes, click and collect, last mile delivery, DSD and route optimization.  

Zebra Technologies recently launched its TC5x and TC7x mobile touch computers, our most advanced enterprise-grade mobile computer platform along with enhanced mobility software tools. These new devices feature the latest advancements in positioning, connectivity and security to deliver superior workforce performance and customer service. With a new front-facing camera, the latest Wi-Fi and Bluetooth enhancements, and an ultra-powerful processor, this newest generation of devices enables front-line workers to communicate efficiently and maximize their productivity.

For today’s workforce, what’s on the outside of a device is as important as what’s on the inside. Warehouse employees are best served by devices that can pack a punch in terms of capabilities but are as contemporary and easy to use as their personal smartphones. Zebra’s new handheld mobile touch computers run on the Android™ operating system, which is user-friendly and can be shared freely across other product families and future generations of Android™.

Thanks to easy system integration, these devices are future-proofed and can help organizations lower their total cost of ownership in the long run. Best of all, these mobile touch computers have an ultra-rugged construction and drop-resistant features which means they are perfect for warehouse and fleet management applications. From product picking/put-away to driver logging, these devices can hold up to the most rigorous activities in and around the warehouse.

Mobility solutions have the potential to maximize workforce productivity and help enterprises rise above the competition and differentiate themselves within their markets. As businesses look for reliable, durable, and modern mobile solutions to support their front-line workers, the ever-evolving enterprise touch computing industry can provide support and create a seamless, enjoyable experience that delivers a performance edge. By investing in advanced technology like Zebra’s new mobile devices, businesses can empower their workers to do their jobs with more efficiency now and in the future.

Addressing What’s Next in the On-Demand Economy with Intelligence at the Edge

By Jeff Schmitz | 08/28/2018 | 9:26 AM

We live in a world where the line is blurring between the digital and the physical, and instantaneous service delivery is becoming ubiquitous. In an age of hyper personalization, convenience and information, customers expect what they want exactly when, where, and how they want it. Immediate gratification is the new norm. This on-demand economy continues to push what it means for enterprises to be “customer-driven,” and they must digitize operations to remain relevant and compete. Early attempts to address these needs sparked innovation at the core of the enterprise, but today innovation is exploding at “the edge” of business.

The edge is where we create seamless and frictionless customer experiences. From sales associates who delight shoppers with the items they want without leaving their side, warehouse workers who pick inventory so that the right things get to the right customers at the right time, and truck drivers who take the most direct and efficient route to get packages to recipients sooner.

Where we used to centralize operations, forward-thinking companies are now pushing resources and intelligence to the edge. For example, instead of sending all information to the cloud, now some of it can be transmitted nearby where it’s created. Think about how traditionally, inventory has been stored in warehouses, but as retailers gain better visibility into stock, ecommerce inventory can now be pulled from the local retail stores. Rather than waiting for a package to arrive, shoppers now have the option to pick up a purchase at a local brick-and-mortar location when and where it’s convenient.

In these demonstrations of smart environments at the edge, the employees making real-time decisions and interacting with the products and people they serve become even more critical to enhancing the customer experience. In today’s customer-centric business environment, front-line workers must be armed with the tools and data-driven insights to drive successful outcomes.

Within the supply chain, empowering employees with the latest technology and real-time insights helps companies gain a critical performance edge. Nearly all supply chain professionals we recently surveyed said that by 2020, they will use handheld mobile computers with barcode scanners to attain omnichannel logistics capabilities to meet customer expectations for speed, quality and performance.

In an era in which 78 percent of logistics companies expect to provide same-day delivery, finding ways to digitally transform operations and empower employees with intelligence at the edge has never been more important.

Innovation is happening in front of our eyes, but forward-thinking companies are looking ahead to what’s next in the on-demand economy and creating flawless customer experiences at the edge. Those who don’t will be left behind.

Real-Time Location Intelligence Drives the Smart Factory

By Jeff Schmitz | 08/07/2018 | 6:39 AM

The on-demand economy and unprecedented customer expectations are fueling a shift toward the smart factory. In fact, our Manufacturing Vision Study found the number of fully-connected factories is expected to double by 2022, showing industry leaders are poised for significant progress over the next few years. While shifting to the smart factory model may be daunting to some, when you look at some of the technologies involved that can provide near-term ROI, it’s easy to see the path to growth. One example is location solutions.

When you don't know the location or condition of your most critical assets, it’s nearly impossible to maintain control over your operations. The only way to ensure quality, speed, efficiency and performance levels that meet today’s customer demands is to achieve 100 percent visibility within your factory and connect previously siloed operations. As the Internet of Things (IoT) impacts the evolution of the enterprise and fuels the connected factory, many manufacturers are looking to real-time location tracking for increased visibility into their business operations.

Location information drives operational intelligence in accelerating digital transformation. With a solid understanding of the exact location of assets, goods and people, manufacturers can determine if their operations are working as expected and make decisions based on real-time data to course-correct when things go wrong. By linking asset location, status and motion/flows, companies can increase control, minimize downtime and maximize performance.

Location solutions such as Zebra MotionWorks™ can automatically sense the location of assets and inventory, streamlining production lines and delivering actionable insights to increase productivity and efficiency. This facilitates the continuous flow of goods between transportation systems, distribution centers and manufacturing plants, ensuring the right tools arrive at the right work station at the right time. For an automotive manufacturer, location visibility translates into less on-hand inventory from local suppliers due to improved accuracy along with significantly reduced inventory-carrying costs and improved labor productivity.

In addition to streamlining workflows and boosting performance and efficiency, location solutions help ensure the safety of employees. On plant floors where workers are constantly surrounded by hazards, adopting solutions to reduce human error and keep the workforce safe is critical. With the added visibility that location solutions provide, plant floor managers can increase connectivity, enhance compliance processes and ensure work is handled according to safety requirements.

While helping protect the workforce, location solutions can also equip factory employees with accurate, real-time edge data. According to Zebra’s Intelligent Enterprise Index, 70 percent of companies already share information from their IoT solutions with their employees more than once a day. Interestingly, two-thirds of these companies share this data in real or near-real time.

Ultimately, location solutions and the intelligence provided by them empower front-line workers with a performance edge as they have the real-time guidance to execute tasks and make strategic business decisions to advance operations.

What Happens When Enterprises Take a Page from the NFL’s Playbook?

By Jeff Schmitz | 06/01/2018 | 10:31 AM

The NFL may be in the offseason, but it’s primetime for warehouses and distribution centers

Over the past few years, the NFL has adopted its own strategy to generate and analyze data and insights. By planting coin-sized RFID chips in players’ shoulder pads—and the footballs—the NFL has access to unprecedented data about speed, distance traveled, acceleration and more. This technology turns a football field into a series of data points. For example, NFL coaches can quantify and analyze quarterback accuracy or running back durability over the course of a game.

This collective information creates what we call a ‘digital diary’ of what’s happening at every moment of the game. The data is used to enhance the fan experience with never-before-seen, real-time player statistics. It also offers important insights about athlete performance to inform coaches’ strategies and enhance player safety. In addition to fan-friendly stats—for example, Jacksonville Jaguars rookie running back Leonard Fournette recorded the fastest ball carries of the season—coaches can analyze wide receiver route efficiency, and team trainers can monitor fatigue patterns to preempt injuries.

By now you’re probably wondering why I’m talking about football strategy in a publication read by logistics and supply chain managers and executives. Worlds apart at first glance, both those on the front line of a football field, and on the front line of a warehouse or retail store, look to RFID technology and sensors to gain a performance edge. In fact, enterprises can learn a lot from the NFL.

Much like how a football field becomes a grid of data points and connections for fans, a plant floor can do the same for administrators, providing actionable insights to dictate the next best action. The same technology that captures “Next Gen Stats” about football games and player performance, also generates next-gen stats in manufacturing—from inventory stock to field route optimization to load monitoring and management—and everything in between.

While coaches and fans track a football’s journey to the end zone, logistics executives track a parcel’s path from fulfillment through delivery to a shopper’s door. Even more, with the visibility and insights generated from tracking technology, a fleet manager has the power to adjust and optimize a truck driver’s route based on real-time information. A trailer operator can load the vehicle safely and efficiently without excess space. Even in the healthcare environment, a hospital can guarantee it’s connecting the right patient to the right care and medicine at the right time.

From football players to hospital patients to key assets in a warehouse, data-powered environments offer real-time insights and visibility needed to capture performance edge and reach higher levels of productivity, growth and service.

Navigating the New Fulfillment Model Starts with Collaboration

By Jeff Schmitz | 04/17/2018 | 4:03 PM

The ‘always-connected’ consumer has higher expectations than ever before. These include the latest in buying and shipping options, faster delivery and a seamless online experience. The same digital transformations that continue to fuel this on-demand economy are now challenging manufacturers, retailers and logistics firms to navigate a new fulfillment landscape. With ecommerce expected to generate $4.479 trillion in retail sales by 2021, investing in new technologies and implementing digital, automated processes is no longer enough to keep pace. That’s why retailers and manufacturers alike are redefining their roles, exploring new business strategies and increasing collaboration as they transition to a more robust omnichannel strategy.

Retailers, for example, are focusing on the new “ship from store” strategy, leveraging their store locations to double as online fulfillment centers for shipments and ecommerce returns. Zebra’s Future of Fulfillment Vision Study - a global body of research analyzing how manufacturerstransportation and logistics (T&L) firms, and retailers are preparing to meet the growing needs of the on-demand economy - found 76 percent of retailers currently use store inventory to fill online orders. Further, six out of 10 expect that number to continue to grow and it’s anticipated that 96 percent of retailers will have dedicated fulfillment centers for online orders by 2028. With rising customer expectations for same-day and even two-hour delivery, fulfilling digital orders from brick-and-mortar store locations is one strategy key players are beginning to use, and it will soon become a requirement to succeed.

While both speed and accuracy are essential for developing a successful omnichannel strategy, only 39 percent of the survey respondents across manufacturing, retail and T&L believe they’re currently operating at the level necessary to meet today’s expectations. So how can these key players speed up the process to achieving improved visibility and accuracy while surpassing consumer expectations? The answer is simple: collaboration.

A growing number of retailers currently rely on dropshipping, in which manufacturers themselves are responsible for delivering products directly to the consumers, bypassing the retailer’s inventory altogether. Expanding beyond these capabilities, retailers have also started to leverage strategies including curbside and warehouse pickup as well as third-party locations like parcel shops and lockers. As for logistics companies, 78 percent of those surveyed expect to provide same-day delivery by 2023, and 40 percent anticipate delivery within a two-hour window by 2028.

Through the collaboration of these key players to meet consumer delivery expectations, the future of fulfillment will also be characterized by new shipping options. New technologies such as autonomous ground vehicles, drones and droids will see significant growth between now and 2028, according to our study. The new landscape will also give rise to unconventional shipping methods such as bicycle couriers and crowdsourced delivery, a method in which a network of drivers can choose to complete a specific delivery order.

So what’s next for adopting the new fulfillment model? As this model continues to evolve, it will be essential for industry leaders to come together and empower their frontline employees to drive their performance edge, ultimately improving the customer experience. This means embracing the digital transformation permeating the supply chain, proactively adopting new solutions to support the next generation omnichannel strategy, empowering employees and fostering collaboration amongst all key players.

Why Supply Chains and Manufacturers Can’t Ignore the Retail Revolution

By Jeff Schmitz | 02/20/2018 | 8:13 AM

Over the past year, the news cycle has been saturated with stories of struggling brick-and-mortar retailers fighting to keep up in an increasingly digital world. But the reality is that we saw more retail store openings than closures in 2017.  

The outlook is strong and retail technology spending is expected to rise three percent over the next three years among retailers with greater than 50 stores. It’s undeniable that we’re in the midst of a retail revolution. Here are four of the resulting trends most likely to impact supply chain managers and manufacturers:  

1.       Retail Stores Blur with Distribution Centers

The rise in alternative fulfillment options, like buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS), is driving a holistic integration of e-commerce and in-store operations. This end-to-end visibility model means retail stores should now be equipped to double as distribution centers.

New ways to place orders continue to emerge. For example, shoppers are growing increasingly comfortable with digital voice assistants. A recent study from SAP Hybris found 38 percent of voice assistant owners would consider using their assistants for holiday shopping in 2017. Furthermore, consumers may soon order coffee from their car’s infotainment system, or groceries from their flights. As these trends continue to proliferate, so will the corresponding fulfillment models. 

 

2.       As Shopper Expectations Continue to Climb, Supply Chains Must Rise to the Occasion

Our recent Global Shopper Study found 66 percent of shoppers prefer next- or same-day delivery. Meanwhile, more than half of online shoppers are not satisfied with the returns/exchange process.

Heightened fulfillment expectations are shifting retailers’ focus to providing online customers the immediacy of what you historically get in store. Adjusting to today’s demands will require major shifts to streamline operations, rethinking supply chains and improving transportation efficiency.

3.       Mobile Devices Give Life to a ‘New’ Store Associate

Store associates are typically available near the front of the store to best serve customers and answer any questions. At this year’s NRF: Retail’s Big Show, one trend that could not be ignored is the explosion of mobile devices – from the backend to the retail floor.

Associates armed with advanced, user-friendly mobile devices are suddenly able to take on backend or warehouse tasks without ever leaving the customer’s side, giving life to a new type of associate.

A popular demonstration at Zebra’s NRF booth highlighted the real-time visibility into stock and inventory that the right enterprise mobile device can provide. In fact, associates can identify an item’s exact location, see if an item is out of stock, and even help a customer place an online order – all right there in the moment.

4.       Renewed Focus on Quality Creates Opportunity

It was clear at NRF that quality is top of mind for retailers, even those who aren’t in the luxury business. Whether it’s recycled and environmentally-friendly materials, or custom-made, today’s consumers increasingly ask for a new standard in quality.

Achieving better quality is now more attainable and affordable than ever thanks to advancements in technology and automation. In a connected supply chain, every physical asset has a digital profile, giving manufacturers greater visibility into what is happening every step of the way. Manufacturers use these profiles to track real-time location, material allocation and condition of assets. The data can also be used to improve the overall manufacturing process, eliminate bottlenecks and communicate with suppliers.

Multiple checkpoints and real-time monitoring along the production line allow them to easily identify a point-of-failure or reconcile the bill of material, ensuring the best quality from conception to the store shelves.

The retail industry’s revolution continues to accelerate. And as the industry transforms, the integration of ecommerce and store operations, rising shopper expectations, mobile device explosion and increased focus on quality will offer tangible business opportunities for manufacturers and supply chain managers.

Three Supply Chain Trends to Watch in 2018

By Jeff Schmitz | 01/02/2018 | 7:49 AM

As 2017 has come to a close, we reflect on what we learned last year and what to look forward to in the year to come. As supply chains continue their digital transformations and become more intelligent, they are expected to adopt these three trends:  

1.       Embrace the “on-demand” economy by leveraging the ‘3As’ – Analytics, Automation and Artificial Intelligence

Against the backdrop of the on-demand economy, supply chains are struggling to adapt to changing fulfillment models – which enables customers to get more of what they want, when they want it and how they want it delivered. As a result, supply chains are being challenged to better manage inventory levels and anticipate operational needs in near real-time processing capabilities.

This is why accelerating technology deployments to gain visibility of assets, people and products to understand specific demands is key. Because of this, there is a strong need to modernize the operational and operating procedures of current supply chains by leveraging the ‘3As’ - analytics, automation and artificial Intelligence.

 

The ‘3As’ will be critical in helping supply chains provide more granular and detailed tracking and tracing of people, process and assets, as well as more compelling and personalized customer experiences.

2.       Rely on critical, real-time data and analytics software to gain visibility for the best next action

The world has become more and more data driven – businesses rely on real-time data to run their operations efficiently and beat the competition. With data becoming more of a requirement, supply chains have shown a willingness to invest in their own systems to take advantage of better and faster data.

An example of a smart supply chain solution that takes data capture to the next level and integrates it with analytics is Zebra’s SmartPack, which uses cutting-edge 3D vision sensors with powerful software to track trailer loading efficiency in real-time, allowing maximum levels of efficiency in transport applications.

3.       Optimize locationing technology for better visibility into smart decision-making

Real-time locationing systems (RTLS) are key to providing effective tracking data with higher accuracy to perform advanced/predictive analytics. According to Zebra’s recent Manufacturing Vision Study, manufacturers are recognizing the value of real-time location tracking technologies and will expand their level of usage from 38 percent to 61 percent by 2022.

Over 55 percent of companies will implement RTLS by 2022, providing the much-needed transparency across their supply chain operations. RTLS allow supply chains to collect critical data about assets, including location, stage, and condition. Today, only 8 percent of manufacturers have real-time monitoring in place throughout the entire manufacturing floor, but this number will soar to 35 percent by 2022.

Supply chains have started leveraging ties between the physical and digital worlds to enhance visibility and mobilize actionable insights that create better customer experiences, drive operational efficiencies and enable new business models. Some are still in the middle of the transformation, but 2018 will be the year they begin aggressively deploying solutions.

A Smart Supply Chain Starts with a Smart Enterprise

By Jeff Schmitz | 12/05/2017 | 8:47 AM

Manufacturers and supply chains have slowly started to adopt Industry 4.0. However, if they want to make the transition successful, most enterprise processes will need to become smarter and more digitized. This is easier said than done. In fact, a new survey by Zebra Technologies found that only five percent of enterprises are truly intelligent, and 48 percent are on their way to becoming intelligent.

Being an “intelligent enterprise” means leveraging ties between the physical and digital worlds for better visibility and actionable insights. But how do you measure a company’s intelligence? Human intelligence is measured through standardized tests, but assessing company intelligence is not as clear-cut.

Last year, Zebra, in partnership with the Technology and Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard (TECH), hosted the 2016 Strategic Innovation Symposium: The Intelligent Enterprise, during which executives from organizations including Google, GE Healthcare and IBM developed criteria that define today’s “Intelligent Enterprise”. Based on these criteria, Zebra then conducted a survey to measure companies’ intelligence as well as provide a path for them to become intelligent.

The framework of an intelligent enterprise is based on technology solutions that integrate cloud computing, mobility, and the Internet of Things (IoT) to automatically “sense” information from enterprise assets. Operational data from these assets, including status, location, utilization, or preferences, is then “analyzed” to provide actionable insights, which can then be mobilized to the right person at the right time so they can be “acted” upon to drive better, more-timely decisions by users anywhere, at any time.

Within the supply chain, an intelligent enterprise could help manufacturers better anticipate disruptions and react to them in real-time. However, most currently lack the operational data needed for this kind of transparency.

According to Zebra’s recent Manufacturing Vision Study, only 27 percent of manufacturers are collecting data from production, supply chain and workers. Additionally, much of the data that is collected remains in silos where it cannot increase the intelligence of the organization.

The on-demand economy is impacting the way supply chains must operate. Now that almost everything – from car services to groceries – is available with the touch of a button, both consumers and customers expect quicker, more customized responses. As consumer expectations continue to grow at a rapid pace, access to operational data is crucial in improving productivity and streamlining operations.

If supply chains hope to become smarter and better cater to consumer needs, they must start investing more in IoT. Zebra’s Intelligent Enterprise Index found 42 percent of companies spend an average of $3.1 million on IoT annually, and 75 percent expect that number to increase in the next one to two years.

Manufacturers need to accelerate the pace of Industry 4.0 adoption if they want to stay ahead. Having a more intelligent and digitized supply chain offers a new level of resiliency and awareness that will give them a competitive edge.

How IoT Gives Supply Chains an Intelligent Edge

By Jeff Schmitz | 10/30/2017 | 7:19 AM

In today’s connected world, organizations have access to millions of data points, and soon it will be even more. It’s estimated by 2020 there will be as many pieces of data available as there are stars in the universe. Every two years, the amount of data we create is doubling in size – in just a few years we will hit 44 zettabytes, or 44 trillion gigabytes.

With all the data available, it’s challenging for businesses to make intelligent decisions. Supply chain managers and manufacturers are especially overwhelmed, trying to wrap their heads around the volume and velocity of data. The big issue is many don’t have the right set of resources or technologies available to help make sense of the data. According to a recent study by Zebra Technologies, manufacturers rated complexity of technology (46%) and availability of IT resources (45%) among the top reasons they aren’t yet realizing a fully connected factory.

Another study by Accenture found nearly 100 percent of supply chain executives report having an understanding of how big data analytics can benefit their supply chain, but only 43 percent of companies have an enterprise-wide big data analytics capability that includes sophisticated tools to capture, process, and produce insights for key supply chain practices. Zebra recently introduced a new platform to help enterprises – including supply chain managers and manufacturers –  take a leap forward and harness their mounds of data to create smart, connected environments.

Zebra’s new platform, Savanna™ unlocks data from connected devices, environments and things to enable digital transformation. The platform gives organizations the power to gain insights at the edge of their operations, ensuring the right data is available to the right people at the right time.

For example, a warehouse worker is informed of the next most efficient, logical product pickup sequence based on real-time information. Additionally, supply chains can better respond to volatile demand or risk and minimize any future disruptions.

When companies have a better sense of what’s going on across the supply chain, they can act on situations in real time and in turn, unleash the full potential of the connected mobile edge to drive new levels of operational efficiency. End-to-end visibility is the competitive edge supply chains need to get ahead of the pack. The amount of accessible data will continue to grow, so the time to act on it is now.

The Smart Manufacturing Revolution is Upon Us

By Jeff Schmitz | 08/14/2017 | 7:18 AM

In today’s on-demand retail landscape, manufacturers are undergoing massive changes to meet customers' ever-increasing expectations. It’s the new reality manufacturers face and those that don’t integrate automation and smart technologies over the next few years risk becoming irrelevant.

According to Zebra’s recently released Manufacturing Vision Study, nearly two-thirds of manufacturers are embracing smart technologies to achieve a fully connected factory by 2022. Despite this shift, only 43 percent of manufacturers embrace smart technologies today. For example, 62 percent use pen and paper to track vital manufacturing steps, putting companies at risk for error. Ultimately, this number is expected to drop to one in five by 2022.

The move toward smart technologies, sometimes referred to as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), enables real-time visibility and decision making across the supply chain.  

At the heart of IIoT is the way companies capture and share data. The ability to have data immediately available in the cloud offers unheard-of visibility that heightens operational performance. However, few manufacturers are harnessing the power of their data. Zebra’s study found only 27 percent are currently collecting data from production, supply chain and workers.

Having instant access to data is essential to making real-time adjustments that ensure that the production process operates smoothly. It gives suppliers the ability to react to the changing needs of their customers while also keeping less inventory on hand and eliminating points of failure. In fact, 50 percent of manufacturers stated that improving their ability to adjust to fluctuating market demands is one of their top business growth strategies.

In addition to data, the shift toward a more automated environment is also putting technologies like voice solutions and RFID at the forefront. According to Zebra’s study, 51 percent of manufacturers are planning to expand the use of voice technology in the next five years, while 60 percent will expand the use of real-time location tracking to drive greater visibility and growth across their operations.

The smart factory of the future will be here before we know it. Now is the time for manufacturers to start integrating visibility solutions into the plant floor to increase quality, expedite production and reduce costs.

Why Warehouse Managers Need Android on Their Radars

By Jeff Schmitz | 06/20/2017 | 6:56 AM

Android is one of the most talked-about consumer technology brands in consumer electronics. And for good reason – it can be found on four out of every five consumer handhelds, as well as Chromebooks, TVs, wearables, and even in cars. In fact, Android is now officially the world's leading mobile operating system (OS) with approximately 87 percent of the global market share, according to IDC.

But it’s not just consumers latching onto this trend. Enterprises have also found a way to leverage the popular OS. As enterprise customer expectations have shifted, they now require technology that can keep pace with their ever-changing environments. This is especially true for those working in the warehouse. Enterprises also need to consider migration from Windows Mobile and Windows CE that are reaching their end of life. These OS are run with most warehouse applications today.

As e-commerce, omnichannel and click-and-collect quickly become the norm, warehouse managers can no longer rely on soon-to-be outdated OS, clunky systems and green screens to accommodate consumers’ growing online shopping habits. It goes without saying that these trends are causing a massive increase in shipments, creating the need for more accurate, real-time inventory insight, speed and quality of order fulfillment.

To compete, warehouses must have a contemporary OS that offers the best of both worlds—enterprise and consumer-grade features—and more overall efficiency. Android-based devices do just that as they help simplify operations and automate processes across the entire supply chain, from goods-in to ship-out. Android also offers the visibility needed to enhance productivity, while providing reduced operating costs.

With more intuitive technology, warehouse managers can quickly gain access to real-time data including the location of inventory, staff and equipment, to improve efficiency and ensure successful and timely order fulfillment.

Picture this scenario: A warehouse employee receives a handful of product and delivery documents. Each document contains what looks like a laundry list of items—multiple barcodes, images, check boxes and lines of text. Manually logging all these documents would take at least a couple of hours. With an Android-based device, employees can instead take all the documents in at once, populate whole digital forms, and have everything done within a matter of seconds.

In addition to reducing the number of steps and time taken when scanning products, Android devices also have a strong appeal to millennials. With e-commerce picking up speed and more baby boomers leaving the workforce, millennials have a growing presence in the warehouse and supply chain space.

As more millennials enter the workforce, it’s crucial they have user-friendly technology to which they’re accustomed. Android devices offer a touch-screen display that looks like what one would see on a smartphone with all the apps easily and clearly accessible. Ultimately, workers will feel familiar with the technology and overall more engaged.  

According to a report by VDC Research, Android devices made up almost 37 percent of rugged device shipments in 2016, compared to 24 percent the previous year—and that number is expected to grow. The combination of increased visibility, reduced operating costs and strong millennial appeal put Android at the forefront, so why not start investing now?

The opinions expressed herein are those solely of the participants, and do not necessarily represent the views of Agile Business Media, LLC., its properties or its employees.

About Jeff Schmitz

Jeff Schmitz

Jeff Schmitz is senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Zebra. Mr. Schmitz most recently served as executive vice president for multiple business units and sales at Spirent Communications where he had previously also held several senior leadership roles including chief marketing officer and vice president of networks & applications. Prior to joining Spirent, Mr. Schmitz held senior marketing positions at Rivulet Communications, Visual Networks and Tellabs Inc. Mr. Schmitz holds a B.S. degree in electrical engineering from Marquette University and a Master of Science degree in computer science from the Illinois Institute of Technology.



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