Let’s put Automatic Data Capture (ADC) Technology to Work

As more Automatic Data Capture (ADC) technology is being put to work, we see more innovation unfold.

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All of the pressure brought on by e-commerce and the subsequent omni-channel fulfillment challenge continues to be a terrific motivator for investment, equipment adoption and process transformation—and if you’re not feeling the heat then maybe it’s time to change careers.

According to our “2017 Warehouse and Distribution Center (DC) Operations Survey” (page 50), that trend is going to continue, as the level of e-commerce involvement is on a steady growth path. We found that 19% of respondents now say they do omni-channel fulfillment, up 3% from last year, while 37% say they do e-commerce, up by 2% from last year.

“Overall, what we see in the field is consistent with the study results in that there’s more of a requirement for speed and accuracy, and that’s all being driven by increasing customer expectations,” says Don Derewecki, senior consultant with St. Onge Co. and a partner on our survey.

One area that’s gaining more attention is automatic data capture (ADC) solutions, the handheld and stationary bar code scanning and imaging devices, bar code printers and ruggedized mobile computing solutions that play a key role in boosting that speed and accuracy in inventory management and shipping.

In fact, this month in Modern we offer a few features that not only put the ADC market into perspective, but also touch on the evolving role of related mobile technologies that help support faster work flows and automated tasks.

“When you consider new operational demands, it’s a surprise when you realize the ADC market had two sluggish sales years heading into 2017,” says editor at large Bridget McCrea, who summarizes the market numbers starting on page 32. “However, top analysts say that bar code scanning and printing got off to a fast start in 2017, with a lot of new product announcements working to accelerate investment, so users are coming around to their benefits.”

And as more ADC technology is being put to work, we see more innovation unfold. Starting on page 44, editor at large Sara Pearson Specter offers readers an overview of this growing, yet often overlooked segment that’s playing such a vital role in accuracy improvement.

“We’re finding that labeling and marking suppliers are continuously adding new features to ensure the information contained within each printed bar code, regardless of its form or purpose, is read with 100% accuracy every time,” says Specter. “And this innovation is helping operations keep better track of inventory as well as deliver clear destination information on outbound shipments.”

Adding a twist to our coverage, executive editor Bob Trebilcock takes us inside the operations of a century-old, iconic American brand that’s making the leap into e-commerce with a WMS and data collection. However, it’s a Cloud-based WMS built on Apple’s iOS operating system and enabled with iPhones.

“We write a lot about automation today, and it’s truly exciting,” says Trebilcock. “But there are still hundreds, if not thousands, of companies whose products and processes may not lend themselves to mechanical automation, but who can benefit tremendously from automating processes with software and automatic data collection—even if they take a more non-conventional route.”

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