Cold Storage Warehouses

Advice from true warehouse experts

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35 www.frbuyer.com NOVEMBER 2019 e Latitude WMS and RF scanning streamline processes that would oth- erwise be labor-intensive and time-consuming. One example: Plymouth's "fresh to frozen" program. Products that don't sell by Friday need to be frozen and cataloged as a fro- zen item before Saturday. Plymouth workers can take a fresh item, scan one of its cases, and the WMS will automatically convert the fresh item number to the frozen equivalent, add the correct frozen weight, and print out labels. "What used to be an almost all-day event was narrowed down to a few hours each Friday," Marchand says. "It's also dramatically increased our inventory accuracy." While a WMS sits in the cloud or on a server, it's im - portant to choose picking hardware that can with- stand the rigors of cold storage and that warehouse workers want to use. Seemingly minor inconveniences like frequent battery changes and condensation or fog on displays or scanner optics can drive up costs by reducing productivity and threatening on-time performance. In North America, Honeywell and Zebra are well known for engineering mobile computer terminals and RF tools for cold, damp environments, with fea - tures like internal heaters, heated displays, sealed con- nectors and enclosures, coated internal components, low-impedance lithium-ion batteries, and wireless connectivity. Likewise, barcode printing can be a challenge in the cold, so it's important to choose labels with freezer- grade adhesives and durable materials. And while Bluetooth and WiFi can be used in temperature- controlled environments, warehouse operators find that they need to adjust their wireless LANs to ensure consistent, quality performance. ick walls and insulation can block signals from entering a cold zone, which means adding heated, sealed wireless access points inside temperature-controlled areas. ROI GAINS FOR A/V SYSTEMS ere are, of course, other picking systems that don't rely solely on optical scanning to capture and communicate information to a WMS. e return on investment for audio and visual picking systems, which eliminate the need for workers to read a screen or hold a scanner, is only getting shorter as technology and hardware improve and costs come down. Pick-to-light is typically used in a zone-based, pick- and-pass flow. e picker scans a tote or carton bar code label and the WMS acti - vates lights to show where the items are. He walks the zone, selecting SKUs along the way, and confirms picks by press- ing display buttons. Voice picking — also called voice-directed warehous- ing (VDW), pick-by-voice, or speech-based picking — uses verbal prompts to literally tell pickers where to go and what to pick. Each picker has a headset, mobile device, and voice-dedicated terminal worn on a belt or shoulder holster. As orders come in from the WMS, they are recorded, sequenced, and then released for processing. rough the headset, workers re - ceive instructions about which picking tasks to perform, and where. ey can respond through the microphone on the headset or through some other device, like a scanning tool or terminal. Voice training can take as little as an hour, says HighJump's Jon Kuerschner — a considerable advantage when you're staffing up for seasonal work. While most warehouses use voice for picking tasks like order selection, put-away, replenishment, and cycle counting, they can deploy it across any workflow that's connected to the WMS or ERP. We'll take a closer look at voice picking systems for cold storage operations in the next issue. Q Stephen Petit can be reached at petit@siefkespetit.com Networked scanners are a window into the WMS, which makes it easier to communicate instructions to workers on the warehouse floor. Photo: PathGuide Hardware should be purpose-built for condensation and cold, with heated displays, ruggedized components, sealed enclosures, and long-life batteries. Photo: Honeywell

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