Optimize Mobility: Stage 2 of Zebra’s Warehouse Maturity Model

Today, the right technological solutions can help warehouse operators gain better visibility into inventory, streamline workflows, and reduce costs. They can also improve customer satisfaction and boost efficiency in practically every part of the warehouse. However, that doesn’t mean there’s one solution that’s right for every company. Since every operation is at a different point in the modernization journey, each needs its own technology plan.

In this series of articles, we’re diving into Warehouse Maturity Model by Zebra Technologies. It’s five-stage approach that breaks modernization down into manageable steps. Its aim is to help warehouse leaders improve their processes based on the state of their management systems today.

Below, we tackle Stage 2 of Zebra’s Warehouse Maturity Mode. See the bottom of this page for links to the articles that cover the other phases.

Stage 2: Optimize Mobility

Probably the single biggest key to warehouse productivity is the efficiency of individual team members. This affects employees both when they are operating solo as well as when they are working in a team. In the case of individual workers, the pace they achieve impacts only their own output. Meanwhile, in a team, the improved work rate of each person affects the productive capacity of the entire group.

One of the ways to improve the output of individual workers is to make their jobs easier by optimizing warehouse mobility. This is the focus of Stage 2 of Zebra’s Warehouse Maturity Model.

Reduced Distances Necessary to Execute Tasks

There are multiple ways that mobile technology can improve warehouse processes. Often, it starts with basic productivity: making work more efficient. It can be as simple as taking advantage of different form factors to deploy task-specific mobile devices in key areas of your work processes. This results in reduced distance workers must travel to complete a task.

For example, instead of requiring workers in receiving to walk to a centrally located label printer, you can deploy compact mobile printers. They allow workers to print labels right where they are required. If this saves even a handful of steps each time the worker needs to print labels, it will add up to significant time savings. As a result, they accelerate throughput over time.

Immediate Access to Data

Mobile handheld computers offer similar productivity benefits. They allow workers to access the information they need to accurately receive, sort, and fulfill orders. Thus, mobile computers can boost efficiency in every part of the warehouse from receiving and putaway to staging and shipping.

Choose the Right Devices to Optimize Warehouse Mobility

It’s essential, of course, to ensure that your mobile computers are optimized for warehouse usage. Consumer-grade devices aren’t cut out for heavy use in warehouse environments.

Therefore, it makes sense to focus on devices like Zebra’s rugged handheld and vehicle-mounted mobile computers and tablets. They are specifically engineered for durability under tough conditions.

The right mobile technology will deliver other benefits, including these gains:

  • Improving consistency and accuracy in data capture, tracking, and reporting.
  • Giving you better visibility of assets to improve utilization and minimize downtime.
  • Helping you track workflows to identify potential choke points and address problem areas before they impact output.
  • Enabling easier communication between warehouse team members. This can greatly impact warehouse operations and other areas of your business.

The Impact of New Tools on Your IT Team

As you work towards optimizing warehouse mobility, you’re bound to introduce new tools, devices, and applications into your systems. IT support will almost certainly be required to deploy and manage those devices. That’s a significant commitment for any organization, especially small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) that try to run lean IT departments.

But it doesn’t have to be overwhelming if you look at mobile optimization as a two-fold opportunity.

The first benefit, like the example outlined above, is an improvement in warehouse operations. Meanwhile, you can achieve the second benefit through an intentional focus on reducing the workload of your IT team. The way you do that is by ensuring your optimization strategy includes a plan for simplifying remote device management.

Optimizing mobility will usually involve the use of Mobile Device Management (MDM) tools that allow your IT team to manage devices remotely. This starts with choosing enterprise-level devices that have built-in remote management tools.

Then, with the right MDM tools, your IT team will be able to configure and deploy devices more quickly. It will also be able to control app, security, and OS updates and remotely monitor device health to minimize downtime. In a truly optimized mobile strategy, the net impact will be less of a burden on IT, not more.

Remember, the Warehouse Maturity Model is an incremental approach to modernization. The goal of Stage 2 is to optimize warehouse mobility to eliminate the complexities and inefficiencies—not contribute to them.

You don’t necessarily have to engage in a wholesale effort to rip and replace all your mobile tools at once. Instead, evaluate where you are in your modernization journey and proceed from there.

Learn more about Zebra’s Warehouse Maturity Model

Read more about the different stages of Zebra’s Warehouse Maturity