Subscribe to our free, weekly email newsletter!

Data collection: How small data points inform the big picture

From RFID tags to mobile computers, visibility into operational details can lead to significant productivity improvements. Here’s a look at how three companies moved forward from paper-based systems and never looked back.
By Josh Bond, Senior Editor
February 01, 2013

Big data might be the next frontier in the optimization of materials handling systems, but many companies would settle for some smaller data about their operations. Substantial improvements could be found in the answers to simple questions: Where is it? When was it put there? How long did that take?

The examples here include how one of the largest 3PLs in the world replaced pens and clipboards with radio frequency identification (RFID) tracking technology to cut administrative costs and provide unprecedented visibility into yard operations. Another company used intuitive mobile computers and a new warehouse management system to transition away from a reliance on the “tribal knowledge” of a workforce with an average of 20 years of experience. The third company set out to solve a replenishment accuracy problem, and ended up optimizing its fleet and boosting productivity.

These companies optimized processes around data, improving efficiency, flexibility and visibility. Between the three success stories, the longest implementation time was six months, by which time each company had already begun to realize the benefits of data collection.

RFID streamlines yard management, enhances visibility
Global 3PL replaces paper-based system with removable RFID tags and cloud-based software to double gate throughput.

Rugged mobile computers help weather the economic storm
Following a transition from a paper-based system, one distributor held sales steady at the height of the economic downturn.

Bar code system improves visibility into product and equipment
Distributor trims fleet, moves from 90% replenishment accuracy to 100%.

About the Author

Josh Bond
Senior Editor

Josh Bond is Senior Editor for Modern, and was formerly Modern’s lift truck columnist and associate editor. He has a degree in Journalism from Keene State College and has studied business management at Franklin Pierce University.

Subscribe to Modern Materials Handling magazine

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Find out what the world’s most innovative companies are doing to improve productivity in their plants and distribution centers.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Recent Entries

When DCs, plants, or any industrial facility needs more space, there are two basic options: going "out" by acquiring or building additional facilities, or "going up" by maximizing the cubic volume of existing facilities

PMMI connects end users and suppliers as they adapt to changing consumer demands.

Deployment of automated storage & retrieval (AS/RS) solutions has been delivering impressive improvements in labor or space savings within facilities for decades.

The total number of October shipments at 913,543 was flat compared to September, which was consistent with growth patterns in recent years, with 2014 up 2 percent, 2013 up 3 percent, and 2012 down 1 percent.

The secret to successful distribution center design is planning to make material handling equipment and software flexible and scalable.

© Copyright 2015 Peerless Media LLC, a division of EH Publishing, Inc • 111 Speen Street, Ste 200, Framingham, MA 01701 USA