*This blog post was contributed by Wendy Stanley, Marketing Director, EDI, Manufacturing & Warehousing Software Solutions at the Radley Corporation. Radley is a registered Zebra Independent Software Vendor (ISV) and reseller.
Mobile computing has greatly transformed the way companies conduct business. From wireless connectivity to powerful processing capabilities, small, handheld computing devices have improved daily workﬂows across a wide range of industries.
There’s no better example of mobile computers’ signiﬁcant impact than in the manufacturing industry, where they empower workers from the shop ﬂoor to the back oﬃce. Handheld devices make it easier than ever before to identify, track, and analyze equipment, products, and business workﬂows. And the trend to replace bulky laptops, wired scanners, and paper-based workﬂows with rugged mobile technologies able to withstand high use and harsh environments is gaining significant traction. By giving employees the tools they need to work with greater speed and accuracy, manufacturers can enjoy improved supply chain eﬃciencies that deliver a strong competitive edge.
Here are four ways that mobile computers are commonly used to improve the manufacturing process:
1. Work-in-progress tracking
Accurately tracking the status of work in progress (WIP) is essential for any manufacturing operation. Without a clear inventory of where products and components stand throughout the production process, manufacturers aren’t able to thoroughly assess their manufacturing needs.
Mobile computers make it possible for manufacturers to integrate smart manufacturing capacities that boost WIP tracking. They also enable manufacturers to ensure every piece of the production process has full visibility and traceability. For example, mobile devices featuring barcode scanners or wireless radio frequency identification (RFID) tag readers can accurately account for the status of materials, items, and products found across the wide array of part bins and assembly lines.
2. Finished goods inventory
An up-to-date ﬁnished goods inventory count is essential to fulﬁlling customer orders. A lack of visibility into which products are ready to be placed on store shelves or sent into customers’ hands can saddle any manufacturing operation with costly delays.
A recent Zebra study shows that manufacturers will face a rise in omnichannel logistics demand by 2023. However, inventory accuracy lags behind where manufacturers need to be in order to handle what’s on the horizon.