There was 3.3 million square feet of speculative cold storage development underway in the U.S. alone in Q2 2022, up from only 300,000 sq. ft. in 2019. To me, that signals a forthcoming spike in the demand for – and movement of – cold chain goods. And I believe it will be even greater than what we’ve seen these past few years as organizations have gone to extremes to distribute pharmaceuticals and keep grocery shelves stocked.
That’s why my team and I have been working diligently to develop and bring to market the new Zebra RS6100, which is the only Bluetooth wearable scanner on the market that is rated for continuous use in cold chain operations. (It can operate in temperatures ranging from -22˚ F to 122˚ F/-30˚ C to 50˚ C when the extended battery is used.)
Why is This Such a Big Deal?
It’s a new world in order fulfillment across the pharma, grocery, beauty, electronics and floriculture industries. Goods that were once reserved for on-site distribution at pharmacies, hospitals, and retail stores are now being shipped direct to consumers via e-commerce fulfillment channels. And whether consumers are picking up cold chain goods in person or online, they expect fully stocked shelves. Companies can no longer justify out-of-stocks, at least not in consumers’ eyes.
In Zebra’s 15th Annual Global Shopper Study, retail associates said out-of-stock complaints are their number one frustration, which is not surprising considering that 49% of shoppers who leave without the items they intended to purchase say it’s due to items they want not being available. And the number one problem patients reported in Zebra’s latest Pharmaceutical Vision Study was needing medication that was unavailable or out of stock. Moreover, they won’t wait for you to restock. If you don’t have what they need, when they need it, they will go elsewhere. This is true of groceries, medication, and even electronics that have temperature sensitive batteries and other components.
That leaves front-line workers under immense pressure to pick, sort, pack, load, unload and put away goods at record speed, without making a mistake. So, if you are a team or company leader, you have an obligation to give workers the technology tools they need to move more cold chain goods – and move them faster. They must be able to safely and quickly build or breakdown pallets, unbox, sort and put away goods, or pick, pack and load orders. And they must be able to simultaneously record their actions via barcode scanning mechanisms.
Fielding the new Zebra RS6100 rugged Bluetooth ring scanner as part of a handsfree replacement to whatever handheld scanning solution you have in place right now is the fastest and easiest way to fulfill that obligation, especially if workers’ hands (or entire bodies) are constantly in cold storage units picking, sorting, or putting away items.
How the RS6100 Stacks Up Against Other Wearables – and Why It Stands Out on the Front Lines
If you’ve been considering a Bluetooth ring scanner for your workers, or they currently use a Bluetooth ring scanner but may need additional capabilities, let’s talk about what the new Zebra RS6100 wearable scanner offers you and your workers.
1. If you produce, ship, store or stock cold chain SKUs, someone in your organization will be going in and out of a freezer and/or cooler at some point in time. As I mentioned before, the RS6100 is the only Bluetooth wearable scanner on the market rated for use in freezers.
Ice cream freezers are typically -25˚C or colder, and the RS6100 can be used in temperatures as low as -30˚C/-22˚F. So, that gives you an idea of their durability both inside and out. Even better, the exterior plastics, internal battery and everything in between have been built to tolerate both freezing cold environments and searing heat exposure. So, if you want to equip loading dock teams, lift truck operators and sortation workers with the same hands-free wearable scanner, you can. This would allow them to easily traverse your entire operation – from cold storage areas to the dock or yard – without having to think twice. They can just keep on moving, scanning barcodes as they go, and data will keep flowing bidirectionally between the front lines and back-office systems.
2. If your front-line workers are scanning approximately 16-20 barcodes per minute for eight, 10 or even 12+ hours, they’re going to need a scanner that is extremely comfortable to “carry” around and use.
That’s why the RS6100 is such a great option.
It’s small (only two cubic inches), lightweight (only two ounces) and can be worn on a single finger, on the back of the hand or even on a lanyard around their neck. Technically, there are five different “mount” configurations – and even more if you consider that the back of hand mount and single finger mount allow for ambidextrous use. What’s really nice is that these mounts are technically accessories that could be changed out as easily as you change your personal smartphone case. If they want to use the lanyard for the first half of the day when they are primarily assisting customers and the single finger mount the second half when they switch to picking and packing orders, they could.
So, if you’re looking for that “one device for all” for scan intensive applications, you may want to have a group of employees across different functional areas try out the RS6100. It can wirelessly pair with different Zebra enterprise mobile computers, including the WT6300 wearables, TC21/TC26 and TC53/TC58 handhelds, and ET4x tablets as well as any Bluetooth smartphone, tablet, or PC you may use within your operation.
The RS6100 can also be connected to the host device as a corded* or cordless setup depending on your battery/power management preferences. Either way, data is transmitted wirelessly via Bluetooth, and Zebra’s Wi-Fi Friendly Mode prevents the Bluetooth signals from interfering with your Wi-Fi connections.