Customer demands are influencing warehouse operations. As expectations rise for fast, efficient delivery of goods, the warehouse is seeking accurate, resilient, fast technology that can cope with whatever is thrown at it, quite literally.
Warehouses are utilising every conceivable shelf space to increase inventory capacity and reduce the overall cost of storage. Using vacant vertical space means boxes are stacked higher, putting barcodes out of reach or in awkward nooks and crannies for a short-range scanner. It’s no surprise that research has revealed that a priority investment area for warehouse managers is sophisticated technology such as mobile devices, barcode scanning devices and interconnected solutions to reach these elusive barcodes and keep up with rising supply chain demands.
As the pressure created by consumer demand continues, the onus is on warehouse operations to be innovative and efficient in use of space and identification of stock. Efficiency, accuracy and resilience are the name of the game.
Standard short-range barcode scanners simply are not going to acquire the data with the ease, precision and convenience required in modern warehouses. As a result, extended range barcode scanning solutions are becoming essential. They give warehouse operators the ability to acquire product information at any point with minimal effort, which saves time and, in turn, reduces the overall cost of operations.
Specifically, investing in extended range scanner technology brings the following five advantages:
Speedy scanning means increased productivity and overall efficiency. Seeing as most operations need to be done ‘ASAP, extended range barcode scanners are vital time savers. A forklift driver, for example, can scan quickly and safely from the cab. If he or she can shave 12 seconds off every scan by staying seated, that’s an hour saved per 300 scans. In addition, extended range scanners scan sequentially, meaning that the operator can hold down the trigger to identify multiple items.
2. Intuitive operation
Extended-range scanners generally utilise omnidirectional scanning technology, meaning that aligning the scanner and barcode is unnecessary. This is essential for a vertically stacked warehouse and reduces time taken to acquire information. Combining the omnidirectional support with long-range capability means the operator no longer wastes time pacing the warehouse floor continuously to scan goods. See a long-range scanner in action here, where the operator is able to scan various distances from the same spot.
Watch the video.
3. Unwavering performance
In an operating environment that’s typically dimly lit, dusty and dirty, long-range barcode scanning technology will continually provide ‘first time capture’ from afar. Whether scanning 1D / 2D barcodes, OCR, photos or documents with the grubbiest barcode stuck under numerous layers of shrink-wrap, the accuracy and precision of the best ones will not falter.
Any scanner used in a warehouse environment should be able to withstand the most punishing conditions, including extreme temperatures, liquid and chemical spills, being dropped at ladder height or dropped in water. They should also boast an extreme level of shock tolerance and continue to function superbly even after repeated drops onto concrete – or being driven over. (It happens.) Fortunately, ultra-rugged extended-range scanners will meet these minimum requirements – and more, as evidenced in these videos.
5. Short-range capability
A common misconception is that extended-range scanning technology is only applicable for barcodes that are out of reach. On the contrary, extended-range scanners offer excellent capability at short range as well. A barcode a few centimetres away is just as attainable as one that is 21m away – straight up, across or diagonally. This eliminates the need to purchase multiple devices, improving return on investment (ROI) whilst securing rugged, accurate scanning equipment for all your warehouse needs.
A word of caution, though: consistent accuracy can still be a ‘long shot’ with some long-range (and even extended-range) scanners. Before you make a scanner selection, put it to the (extreme) test. See if it can capture a target barcode 21 metres away. Confirm that it can handle the volume of scans that demanded during a typical ‘peak season’ day. The scanner should be accurate every time, whether it’s the first or 1000th scan of the day. The performance of your fulfilment operations depends on this accuracy, as you will see by the results of our latest Future of Fulfilment Vision Study.
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Side note: You may have noticed that I used the term ‘extended-range scanner’ versus long-range scanner. That was intentional. They are not the same. While both are intended to support scanning from further distances than short-range scanners, a long-range scanner typically reaches about 12-15 metres (40-50 feet). An extended-range scanner, on the other hand, will capture data from over 21 metres away as noted above.