The workplace is on the move. Literally. In fact, the International Data Corporation (IDC) estimates that the population of mobile workers will grow to 1.3 billion, or 37.2% of the total global workforce by 2015. With such a rapid evolution on the horizon, it’s become increasingly important to equip these workers with the right mobility tools so that they are just as productive in the field as they would be at a desk.
Organizations that embrace mobility and other connective technologies will have a competitive edge for the following reasons:
• Cycle times are reduced because warehouse processes are streamlined
• Cost of labor is significantly decreased because productivity is increased
• Accurate order fulfillment, resulting in improved customer satisfaction
• The cost of sales attributed to movement through the warehouse is reduced
Not only will you gain efficiency in each separate process of your warehouse enterprise, you can realize business benefits throughout the scope of your operations as information is more effectively shared. Here’s a breakdown of how empowering a mobile workforce within your warehouse can build the foundation for enterprise-wide efficiency:
The yard: Warehouse mobility enables you to know the location of shipments in the yard through your warehouse management system (WMS). This stretches beyond your four walls; Visibility is greatly enhanced in trailers, containers and other materials in the yard. Even if items are moved, they are then easily tracked.
Not to mention, mobility creates a tight integration between your yard and warehouse workers. The WMS can create a detailed schedule and deliver it to your workers’ mobile devices. Those workers can then be directed to the exact location of the trailer scheduled for conveyance. Workers will also have a greater awareness of shipment scheduling, so they can be ready on the dock at the exact time it will arrive.
Mobile solutions offer a final cross-check to ensure order accuracy, from having the correct address on the package to making sure it makes it on the right delivery truck.
When dispatch can access real-time information via mobile devices, the following can occur:
• Load plans can be made well in advance, accounting for all shipments that will ship in the morning.
• Effective utilization of delivery vehicles and drivers, optimizing load aggregation.
• Trucks will be more fully loaded and delivery routes optimized.
When extensive business data is available in real time to drivers, more benefits incur. Perhaps your drivers just need proof of delivery or more sophisticated route accounting and direct store delivery functions. With mobility functions, electronic signatures can be easily captured and an instant proof of delivery noted in your business systems, which then expedites billing — and payment.
Mobility in your warehouse can even empower your sales force to check inventory, get pricing and place orders, right from a customer’s location. Real-time access to inventory data can mean big wins for sales in three primary ways:
Increased Productivity: Paper forms are replaced by more efficient and data-rich computer-based forms
More sales: Technology lessens the load of paperwork, and sales reps can spend more on the phone and making sales.
Improved Customer service: When a customer calls about order status, that information is available in real-time and at the salesperson’s fingertips. When this information is readily available, customer satisfaction levels increase.
When you adopt mobility, you’ll realize integrated warehouse and field service functions, which in turn raises efficiency and customer service levels. With mobile computers in hand, field personnel can have access to real-time information for everything from warranty information on items, repair history to accurately diagnose problems on the first visit — to field contract expiration dates so they can potentially upsell or cross-sell related services — creating potential revenue opportunities for your business.
The warehouse is a vital part of your company’s operations. If it is poorly managed, every aspect of your business is negatively impacted. Mobility is a trend that can’t be ignored. If you deploy the right mobile technology and related software systems that fit your unique business needs, your operations will realize a new level of visibility into your enterprise. That means better, more informed business decisions and potentially a boost to your bottom line.