3 Steps for Success: Selecting New Hardware for your Operation
Chances are you know more about your business than anyone outside your organization. But when it comes to the technology that helps drive operations, it can get a little tricky; particularly due to the fast pace at which technology is changing and requirements placed on you by suppliers and customers. Partnering with a solution provider helps you navigate changing terrain and guides you toward smart solutions.
How do you arm yourself against recommendations that may not be right for your business?
Here are 3 steps to help ensure you’re engaging with the right provider and making informed decisions that will carry you into the future.
The Planning Stage
The author Napoleon Hill said, “Plan your work, and work your plan”, and he was right. Planning is critical to a positive outcome. The effort it takes to make changes in your warehouse, distribution center or manufacturing facility is well worth developing a plan and seeing it through. With the objective of finding a solution to maximize worker productivity and streamline workflows in your operations, our goal is to work with customers to develop a plan that solves application challenges and then carry out their plan, so they can realize immediate benefits.
The first step is to take the time to think about situations that cause bottlenecks in your workflow. For example, if you’re getting hit with non-compliance fees on a regular basis, what are the reasons for non-compliance? If lead times are getting longer because of recurring stockouts, maybe you need greater visibility in order to stay ahead of it. If workers are struggling to locate product to fill orders, what can be done to make inventory easier to find? Prepare a list of the issues and challenge areas, along with quantifiable measurements for success (i.e., reducing lead times from one week to 3 days, or increasing throughput by 15%, etc.), and sit down with a solution provider and begin drafting a plan of action.
When meeting with solution providers, look for a team who has experience solving challenges similar to yours, such as maintaining adequate inventory levels, fulfilling orders in a timely manner, and shipping accuracy. For us, when we’re working with clients, we like to ask a series of questions to narrow down requirements and help choose the right equipment. For a customer who is looking to implement barcode automation, for example, we might ask questions like:
- How often will the device(s) be used and by how many employees?
- In what type of environment will the devices be operating?
- How will you connect to the company or cellular network?
- What distance will the worker be from the item they need to scan?
- What type of barcode(s) will be scanned?
On occasion we run into customers who ask for a specific device or system, but after asking them a few discovery questions, we find that what they think they need and what they really need are two different things.
In certain situations, we like to conduct a site visit to see the environment for ourselves:
- Are there fluctuations in temperature?
- Are we dealing with low ceilings and high shelves?
- What type of ERP system is being used?
- What are the days/hours of operation?
A site visit allows us to see the operation in action, and these questions help to identify challenge areas that may impact worker performance and process flow.
When it comes to barcode technology, the most expensive device is not necessarily the best choice for your unique application. That’s why it’s important to understand every aspect and detail of the flow of operations and the role each worker plays in the overall process.
Consider a customer who generates labels for finished goods coming off the line. The labels are briefly inspected, but not every label can be checked without slowing down production. If print quality is poor, the customer could potentially have the shipment returned to them and incur a non-compliance fee. For these situations, we might recommend a printer like the Honeywell PX940. This high-performance industrial printer is great for this particular application because it offers integrated label verification technology for error-free printing. This feature enables defect-free print quality, so you get 100% accuracy every time. If a poorly printed barcode exists, the printer will immediately void and reprint a new label, saving time and money.
Give us a try
Are you working on a plan for the New Year that involves upgrading or implementing new technology? There’s no cost or obligation to speak to us about your application. Share your challenges with us and we can share with you the successes we’ve had with companies just like yours.