Effective material handling is an essential component of modern warehouse management, which helps to ensure smooth operations in today’s dynamic and demanding supply chain environment. However, all too often, constraints like warehouse footprint, inventory management, equipment wear, and worker safety create inefficiencies that can hamper the smooth and safe movement of materials throughout a facility.
When time equals money, implementing digital capabilities is one of the best ways to mitigate these challenges. By adding digital capabilities to material handling equipment, warehouse managers can put critical data within easy reach of warehouse operatives. This data can optimise the movement of goods and materials through the warehouse, offering a cutting-edge solution to age-old problems.
Wireless data collection for challenging environments
With the rise of Industry 5.0, a new model of data collection, processing, and analysis has emerged. This latest industrial revolution builds upon the connectivity and automation of Industry 4.0, introducing more human-centric technologies and personalised solutions. The focus on collaboration between humans and machines is now at the forefront, transforming how material handling can be streamlined for smoother operations. However, the question remains: what devices can be used in the rigorous warehouse environment?
Warehouses are known for being challenging workplaces filled with vehicles, personnel, and other potential hazards. Any device must withstand accidental knocks, drops, exposure to dust, vibrations, spillages, and more. In addition, many warehouses feature cold storage and outdoor areas, so devices must be operational in a wide range of temperatures and weather conditions without the risk of damage or failure. For this reason, many warehouse operators are prioritising the use of rugged, purpose-built devices designed for such conditions.
However, devices need to tick more than just one box. For example, warehouse operators will use rugged devices constantly, which means they must have extensive battery life and easy charging capabilities. They also need inbuilt security features to ensure sensitive information is protected from unauthorised persons.
Two similar but discreet digital solutions that warehouse management teams might consider are fixed-mount computers and demountable mobile computers. Such technologies deliver greater flexibility, mobility, and reliability in accessing and inputting relevant data, tailoring to specific needs and environments, and enhancing overall operational efficiency.
A fixed-mount computer is installed directly onto warehouse vehicles, such as forklifts, giving personnel direct access to relevant systems. These computers are mostly used on-site and are rarely detached from their vehicles. Although they may include a bridge battery for removal in emergencies, such as a vehicle breaking down, their low capacity limits their mobility in other warehouse applications.
Demountable mobile computers
Unlike their fixed counterparts, demountable mobile computers provide a versatile solution. Designed with flexibility in mind, these devices can be attached via flexible mounting solutions, like secure docks and cradles, that double up as charging stations and let warehouse operators quickly and easily detach them as required. Warehouse staff frequently use demountable mobile computers for several tasks, including inventory management, product scanning, and communication. Their increased flexibility lets them cater to diverse applications, including forklift monitoring and heavy-duty tasks in hazardous operations.
The right solution for each customer
Warehouse workers need the flexibility, mobility, and reliability that vehicle-mounted computers provide, especially in accessing and inputting relevant data. While fixed-mount computers continue to play a vital role in many warehouses, an increasing number of businesses now recognise the advantages of demountable mobile computers. The choice between fixed or demountable options depends on specific needs and environments. By leveraging both fixed and demountable solutions, warehouse managers can ensure smooth material handling, enhance operational efficiency, and respond with agility to the ever-evolving demands of the modern supply chain.
Challenges with vehicle mounting, such as the diverse range of vehicles requiring distinct mounting solutions, add complexity to the decision-making process. Experienced digital warehousing solution providers offer critical insights. Drawing from their extensive expertise, they provide design and implementation assistance tailored to individual needs. Emphasising efficiency gains and personalised solutions, industry experts collaborate with warehouse managers to determine the most effective technologies, ensuring chosen solutions align with the unique demands and opportunities of each individual operation.