Run Your Warehouse on an iPad? Absolutely.
By Jim Laverty
You don’t have to go much further than the local Starbucks or your kids’ school to get a sense of the transformative effect of iPads and similar tablets.
The devices are ubiquitous. In fact, Gartner indicates that this is the year that Steve Jobs’ post-PC vision will be realized: in 2015, tablet sales are expected to eclipse PC sales (desktops, laptops, mobile computers). The implications extend to all enterprise elements—including the warehouse.
Logistics executives and supply chain managers have long considered the idea of swapping out expensive mobile computers for less expensive, easier-to-use tablets that have more robust functionality. But they’ve wondered about the practicality of running a world-class warehouse on the devices. With the emergence of cloud-based systems such as the irms|360 Enterprise® Cloud Warehouse Management System, that wonder is rapidly turning into belief.
With a Cloud WMS, it is not only possible to run warehouses on tablets—it makes running them on older mobile devices a dubious practice for anyone looking to maximize their profitability.
Six Reasons to Switch
The benefits of moving to tablets for warehouse operations are compelling:
1) Attracting new business.
The impression a warehouse makes on a prospective client as he or she walks through it should not be underestimated. This impact is made not only through the physical plant, but also by the technology employed within the facility. A workforce armed with iPads carries the cachet of the devices: modern, sleek, efficient, and empowered. You want the client to think “state of the art,” not yesterday’s tools, as they imagine their business being handled in the warehouse.
2) Acquiring talent.
The shortage of skilled workers has become one of the key issues facing today’s business, and the best and brightest expect to have the latest technology to work with in their jobs. These workers are likely to be Millennials, the first generation born into a world that has only known digital life. This group has never doubted the power and effectiveness of iPads; they know how to use them—and expect to.
3) Improving productivity.
Because of their familiarity with the technology, staff can perform tasks faster, easier, and more accurately with iPads and tablets. The functionality the devices deliver, including advanced analytics and real-time communications, keeps personnel apprised of how they are performing in comparison to goals and metrics; today’s generation of workers wants to know how they are performing on an immediate basis. This drives productivity.
4) Doing more.
For a workforce increasingly conditioned to—and expected to—multitask, these devices are built to facilitate that work. Tablets don’t just perform warehouse management fulfillment operations, but empower employees to execute a host of enterprise tasks, from collaboration to analysis to reporting.
5) Providing visual documentation.
Since iPads have built-in cameras—a feature you can expect the staff to be very familiar with—it’s fast and simple for them to take pictures of inventory received. Proof of damaged shipments is captured in a click and immediately saved to the system.
6) Spending less.
Tablets cost much less and are easier to replace than traditional mobile computers. While they are not as inherently rugged as their predecessors, tablets and iPads are easily fitted with protective covers that make them suitable for the warehouse environment.
Of course, all these benefits accrue to the bottom line.
Better Asset Utilization
Investing in technology only pays if it is used; here, too, tablets are advantageous. The general familiarity with tablet technology leads to an extremely high rate of workforce adoption and utilization. Further, the time and cost associated with training is significantly reduced.
What’s more, the sizeable footprint of the iPad screen makes it easier for workers to get a clear, comprehensive view of tasks to facilitate fast and accurate execution. The brightness of displays delivers clarity regardless of where a worker is in the facility, and touchscreens provide a simple, intuitive means of doing work on the devices. Importantly, administrators can tailor the screens to provide unique views that are designed for the specific role or roles staff perform in the warehouse. This eliminates potential confusion or frustration while also driving utilization.
SEE THE BOLD NEW LOOK OF WAREHOUSE MANAGEMENT