Achieving flawless fulfilment is top of the priority list for retailers as customer expectations continue to rise. As a result, warehouses are under increasing pressure to improve performance, with 76% planning to ship more items across additional locations by 2020. As retailers sharpen their focus on cost reduction, they must find new ways to maximise efficiency throughout their entire supply chain operations or risk failing behind competitors. Many warehouses have already created extremely sophisticated workflows that appear to offer little room for any substantial improvements in performance. However, advances in technology are enabling retailers to improve the efficiency of their processes and make significant productivity gains.
Minimising the time spent labelling materials is the most effective way to improve efficiency and reduce labour costs. Centralised labelling solutions can be inefficient and result in inaccuracies that can be avoided by deploying compact printers.
Compact printers allow users to print closer to the point of use, which saves time and improves accuracy in common warehouse processes in the following areas:
- Receiving – Warehouses often print batches of labels for incoming goods, which must then be retrieved by an employee and taken back to another location. Not only does this waste the time of the workers but it increases the likelihood of incorrect labelling. Compact printers can be attached to desktops, shelves and mounted on walls for ease of access; whilst the smallest model is ideal for use in space-constrained areas. Eliminating the repeated round trips workers typically make to the office to collect batches of labels results in significant productivity gains.
- Quality Assurance – Ineligible labels often lead to mistakes such as misidentifying products. By using the right compact printer, retailers can limit mistakes and improve quality assurance. Both Zebra’s ZD410 and ZD420 models can print up to 300 dots per inch, ensuring that even the smallest labels are fully legible. This high quality printing capability minimises the risk of misidentified items.
- Putaway – Using centralised printing systems for this process can cause delays, as valuable time is spent collecting labels from the printer and returning to the point of use. Designed with a multitude of wireless connectivity options, compact printers allow warehouse staff to print at convenient locations. Should workers need to re-print a label, wireless connectivity allows them to do so without wasting time travelling back to a printer in a fixed location.
- Picking – Traditional warehouse processes require workers to make multiple trips to an office to retrieve a pick list. Staff can print labels remotely using compact printers and as a result, workers are able to pick up multiple orders simultaneously within close proximity, reducing empty travel time and increasing productivity.
- Packaging & Shipping – When using a centralised printing system, workers often gather several labels at a time, increasing the risk of mislabelling a product. Printing at the point of use enables workers to label products as soon as packaging is complete, increasing time-efficiency and minimising labelling mistakes.
Ensuring a compact printer is available at the point of use for an employee eliminates wasteful travel time. When measured over time and multiple shifts, the minutes saved result in significant improvements in warehouse productivity and cost reductions.
Introducing compact printers to the entire supply chain has two key benefits: improving productivity and reducing costs. The result is a streamlined retail supply chain process and thereby enabling retailers to raise customer satisfaction levels and gain a competitive advantage.