Maintaining a businesses’ competitiveness is essential in the current economic slowdown. Therefore as demands for increased efficiency and accuracy throughout the supply chain intensify, especially in manufacturing and warehousing operations, it is imperative logistics managers have access to timely and accurate data. Charlie Trumpess, Marketing Manager, Datalogic Scanning, explains how the latest generation of hardwearing industrial scanners is increasing the speed and efficiency of data capture within the industry.
Many companies are coming under pressure from customers to improve responsiveness and lead times, whilst at the same time needing to improve financial performance through better working practices. Warehousing operations are a natural area for companies to increase the efficiently of data capture, keep track of inventory and enhance the visibility of information.
As such, the next generation of scanning products not only need to be tough to withstand the most demanding industrial environments but must also have advanced data capture capabilities. New technologies such as those integrated into scanners are facilitating this advanced data capture, enabling users to not only view bar codes, but transmit real time information and receive data from a central system database and actively interact with the computer host.
Greater customer demands
Customer requirements are changing as hardware products become increasingly integrated into mobile scanning solutions. End user adoption of wireless technologies such as Bluetooth are driving the demand for increased ruggedness, longer battery life and compatibility with multiple wireless protocols. Mobile scanners provide increased productivity and flexibility within the working area, allowing scalable solutions to solve anything from simple point-to-point applications to complex networking problems.
Many bar code data capture applications require mobility of the operator – not just to cover big distances but also simply to guarantee freedom of movement throughout the warehouse without the constraint of an interface cable. Cordless bar code readers therefore enable higher productivity in safer conditions and are suited to the various demands of small and medium sized distribution centres to very complex high volume environments. The Datalogic STAR cordless system for the PowerScan 8000 series offers a unique solution in the market, providing flexibility, versatility and the sharing of real time data.
Flexible solutions to improve efficiency
Flexible and modular radio systems based on proprietary technology and protocols (narrow band 433 & 910 MHz) and standard solutions (Bluetooth® wireless technology) give operators essential mobility, whether it be in the manufacturing plant, warehouse or distribution centre. The Star cordless system allows over 100,000m2 (more than 1,000,000 sq ft) to be covered with up to 16 networked base stations, whilst automatic seamless roaming allows the user to move freely from one base to another. Up to 255 operators can be linked into the base stations, allowing information from a broad area of the warehouse to be collated. Data can also be gathered on specific processes and cycle times, providing managers with vital real time information, a great benefit as planning capacity, avoiding bottlenecks and generating high levels of shop-floor productivity to ensure return on investment are all part of the challenge faced in today’s fast moving environment.
However, in industrial environments bar codes are often ‘ugly’, with poorly printed, damaged, scratched or smudged codes, making them difficult to accurately read. As speed of reading is vital to ensure cost efficiency, users need to be able to accurately scan such codes in one reading (whether it be the omni-directional reading of one-dimensional (1D) and reading of two-dimensional (2D) codes or multiple code readings in a single scan). New technologies, such as Datalogic’s Puzzle Solver Technology, ensure this decoding is possible by pulling together different parts of the code captured in consecutive scans. Integrated into the PowerScan 8300 model, different optics allow superior reading of bar codes at low resolution, even from greater distances.
To ensure this superior performance is maintained in the most challenging industrial environments, the next generation of scanning products utilises the latest innovations in handheld reader technology. Advances in technology, such as the innovative application of Datalogic 3GL™ Technology (Three Green Lights), offer an alternative to the traditional audio response to ensure users receive accurate and timely feedback in noisy environments. The durability of industrial scanners has also increased greatly over the last few years, with the cables on the PowerScan D8500 developed and tested to withstand thousands of bends and working to temperatures of -30ºC.
The next generation of scanners in practice
Recently chosen by Delphi Automotive Systems to meet the challenge of supplying in assembly line sequence, the correct suspension module for each corner of more than 5,200 vehicles per week, the advanced performance and durability of the PowerScan 8300 provided a greatly improved operational efficiency for the manufacturer.
The operator scans the barcode to positively identify that the right unit has been picked and placed in the correct compartment. The PowerScan 8300 ensures reliable and secure data transfer, without Wi-Fi interference, or the constraints and hazards of a tethered device, guaranteeing the right components are supplied to the assembly line, in the right sequence, as they are needed. This successful supply-in-line sequence process means greatly reduced storage, simpler, more efficient manufacturing logistics, increased production flexibility and lower costs.
Looking to the future
As customer demands for higher return on investment intensify, the tools used for data capture in the supply chain will become increasingly under scrutiny. Today’s integrated systems offer more intelligent and efficient methods that can help organisations better manage their resources, control processes and inform decision making. By increasing the efficiency and accuracy of their data capture methods, logistics managers can improve speed within the supply chain, therefore helping to strengthen their competitiveness in the current economic climate.