Four Big Benefits Gained from Mobile Powered Carts – Part 1

Mobile Powered Carts

 

Companies today have access to a plethora of technologies for automating and streamlining warehouse operations. So much so, that it is sometimes easy to overlook how a lean simple technology can be combined with other technologies to impact daily labor savings while returning a huge efficiency boost in manufacturing and warehouse operations. That device? The mobile battery powered cart!

Mobile batteries have come a long way in the last 18 months. As the power density of Lithium-ion batteries goes up, the price and recharge cycle time have gone down.  A mobile powered cart, with an operator workstation equipped with a scale, presentation barcode scanner, Zebra label printer and laser printer can last 10 or more hours without recharging. This frees up employees from wasted travel time by bringing the technology to the warehouse area where the work is performed.

A mobile powered workstation or a mobile powered batch order picking cart can eliminate pre-printing batches of order and shipping labels, and picking and packing sheets, while also providing the weight check scales, and dimensioners so that order fulfillment and other work activities are performed faster, more efficiently, and accurately.

Powered carts are tools used to eliminate wasted walking time and save the operator from having to sort batches of pre-printed pick sheets or work instruction documents by changing the process to on-demand printing. Productivity is improved, needless operator steps are eliminated, errors are reduced, and orders are processed faster through an inexpensive investment.  

This two-part blog will explore four very effective uses for the mobile powered cart in optimizing warehouse operations, where mobile powered carts are driving a fast ROI by increasing operational efficiency; a Mobile Receiving Workstation, a Mobile Batch Cart for High-Volume Small Item Piece Picking, a Mobile Shipping and Manifesting Work Station, and a Mobile Pallet Labeling and Wrapper Station.

1. Faster, More Accurate Receiving

Mobile Powered Cart Infographic

Replace fixed receiving workstations with a battery-powered mobile workstation, loaded with Numina’s warehouse execution and control software (WES/WCS), a bar code scanner, Zebra label printer and a mobile dimensioning scale and vision capture system.

If your facility is like most, your team needs to walk to a stationary printer to retrieve the labels needed for an incoming shipment. This not only creates waste from unnecessary steps, but often results in less accuracy in Receiving. Mobile cart is moved to the receiving dock door or pallet to validate the entire receiving process by:

  • Scanning or entering the incoming order to verify the product and quantity.
  • Capturing case and each product weight, dimensional measurements, and sending the image to the ERP/WMS.
  • Capturing and recording errors or damaged goods with a time-stamped image of the errors to reduce costs for processing claims
  • Generating a barcoded label for the received pallet to direct put away to the storage location 

Benefits of a Mobile Receiving Work Station:

  • Increases accuracy by eliminating manual processes such as item look up and keying of data.
  • Reduces costly walking to and from static printers by 50%.
  • Increases labeling accuracy to 90+% by printing and applying directly at pallet.
  • Reduces lost staff time due to walking inbound shipments to a fixed receiving station.
  • Immediately validates that product received from suppliers is correct (even if packaging has changed).
  • Enables you to safely move expensive equipment – such as a dimensioning system – to where it is needed, increasing utilization across multiple doors.
  • Provides flexibility to move receiving operations as space utilization needs change.

2. Higher Speed and Accuracy for Small-Item Piece Picking

Mobile Powered Batch Carts combined with Numina Group’s Pick by Voice accelerates and improve speed and accuracy in piece part counting.  The Cart is equipped with a scale and printer managed by Numina’s WES/WCS RDS™ Voice Picking Suite. For example, at a leading automotive parts and assembly kit supplier, the combined technologies on the powered batch pick cart direct the manufacturing kitting and order pick applications, driving a 30% productivity boost compared to the former processes.

Voice picking has several advantages, including directing the operators in an optimized travel path with voice commands and hands-free barcode scanning, replacing reading work instructions from paper or a mobile RF terminal. Barcode scanning, using a mobile scanner, verifies the location and item and quantity picked.  This results in an efficient, hands-free, eyes focused on the picking and pack operations process, improving overall performance by 30% with accuracy rate of 99.99%.

Adding a powered batch cart that can be used to pick 12 or more orders simultaneously that includes a high-precision counting scale and Zebra label printer on the cart, speeds-up the entire operation; especially when orders contain multi-piece loose parts of 30 to 200 or more counts of:

  • washers
  • screws
  • bolts
  • other connector components

Voice directs the pick validation, and the piece weight scale performs the count validation.

Combined Small Item Piece Picking Technology Process:

  • The scale transmits the weight/piece count message to RDS™ Software
  • RDS tells the printer to print a product order identifier label
  • Voice commands direct the operator to apply the label and seal the bagged components
  • Voice commands direct the operator to place the bag into the right order carton or tote

Integrating the scale and labeling on the powered cart with the latest power source technology allows picking to operate over the two shift order fulfillment operation with only a few charges performed during work breaks.

Benefits of Voice + Mobile Powered Batch Cart Picking Benefits

  • Combines pick and pack into a single process, eliminating secondary touches in packing and QC.
    • Loose piece items are weighed, counted, bagged and an order specific label is printed at piece count validation.
    • Increases throughput by eliminating operators moving products to a central scale station and performing piece counting and then returning the product back to the primary storage location.
  • Operations happen in real-time with product and quantity picked data updated to the ERP/WMS to adjust location inventory records.
  • Reduces staff walk time by up to 50%.
  • Eliminates the possible error of returning product to the wrong location.
  • Provides 99.99% accuracy by validating that the correct items and quantities are picked for every order.

Combining Voice Directed Picking and Mobile Powered Carts allows for fulfillment of products that require additional labeling, such as small medical devices that require additional compliance labels on every piece. In many cases, staff can manage the labeling with wearable printers, but a mobile picking cart offers additional versatility. It is a matter of simply adding another printer to the cart and re-purposing it for other types of picking.

Part 2 of this blog which will be released September 15th will continue the discussion regarding mobile pick carts, specifically discussing their use as a Mobile Shipping and Manifesting Work Station and as a Mobile Pallet Labeling & Wrapper Station for Mixed Case Order Shipments. 

Summary 

These examples illustrate just a few of the ways mobility delivers measurable improvements in efficiency and accuracy for manufacturing and warehouse operations. Mobile powered carts are highly effective in helping companies make better use of their existing warehouse space. Mobile power carts make it possible for workers to use technology where and when it is needed – resulting in a more efficient work force and operation. Make sure to check out our next blog for more tips about how incorporating mobile powered carts in your DC can help streamline pallet labeling and exception manifesting processes. Coming in Part II: Faster Shipping and Manifesting and Outgoing Pallet Handling and Prep.