Wearable scanners reduce labor expenses

Hands-free, paperless system improves productivity and cuts product cycle time.
By Josh Bond, Senior Editor
October 02, 2012 - MMH Editorial

A food and beverage company needed to expand its distribution capacity within two existing facilities where rapidly growing retail sales had created a 75% increase in daily order volume. Though order accuracy was already at 99.5%, the manufacturer was seeking opportunities to cut costs and increase order accuracy to more than 99.8%. Using wearable scanners, the customer saved money and achieved accuracy above 99.9%.

One of the facilities—in the Southeast United States—is an 110,000-square-foot distribution center with 110 employees. The other is a 33,000-square-foot DC in Southern California with 30 employees. Combined, they ship approximately 210,000 orders, 1.5 million lines, and 500 SKUs monthly. The facilities use a 3PL-provided proprietary warehouse management system (WMS) designed for multi-client facilities.

The system was modified to allow product pickers to use new wrist-mounted terminals with ring scanners to improve picking efficiency and order accuracy. Wearable scanners are a great addition to the pick line because the staff needed the ability to have full hands-free mobility. These scanners are particularly well suited to small case or each-pick lines in a dense, high-SKU, high-volume pick area.

The new system and equipment changes generated labor cost savings. The changes also improved the processes on the floor—reducing the printing of manual pick sheets, manual checking of order lines, and double QC functions. The improvements allowed an 80% reduction in labor in quality control alone.

The productivity of the line also improved with the automation, and orders can now be completed in significantly reduced time. This time reduction allowed the facility to handle growing order volume without adding labor to the pick lines. And, order accuracy improved to 99.9%.


Read more Casebook 2013.

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.

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