A highly respected white goods manufacturer has implemented a new mobile computing solution from DataScan using Datalogic Jets to improve the speed, accuracy and visibility of products within its distribution centre.
The manufacturer has a large distribution centre where it handles 2500 – 3000 washing machines and dryers each day. The units arrive at the dock doors and are offloaded directly onto a warehouse sortation unit that uses 2 fixed barcode readers to scan the product code and sort the units into different locations for storage.
Data is then transmitted back to the host system using a wireless RF network.
Until recently, batch hand-held terminals were employed to scan the product codes on units that failed to be read by the 2 fixed barcode readers due to damaged or missing barcode labels. Unfortunately, the process of docking the terminals to upload the data was prone to failure and data loss.
Barcode specialists DataScan Systems Ltd who supplied the original fixed barcode readers running on the sortation system, were consulted once more to provide a reliable solution. DataScan recommended Datalogic Jet mobile computers to run on the existing wireless network providing real time data communications.
A number of Datalogic Jets were deployed with charging stations at strategic points around the warehouse. A further unit was mounted on a forklift. Now, products that cannot be scanned by the sortation system, are scanned manually using the new mobile computing system.
Prior to shipping, three 16-digit barcode labels are applied to each machine, one to the inside of the door, one on the rear plate and a finally, a transit label is applied to the outer carton. The barcode encodes the product code and a unique serial number.
Should the transit label be missing or damaged and fails to scan, warehouse operatives remove the outer packaging and scan one of the additional 16-digit barcodes for the model and serial number. Once scanned the units are repackaged and allocated to stock via a real time upload from the Datalogic Jet.
The washing machines and tumble dryers are stacked in rows that are 10 units high and 400 units long. Often, pickers are required to go behind the “walls” of washing machines to scan barcodes, which can cause problems with the wireless network coverage. To overcome this, DataScan developed application software for the Datalogic Jets enabling data to be stored when operating within a blind spot and automatically uploaded when the picker is back in range.
Although not part of the original requirements, the Datalogic Jets are also used for processing Graded Stock – which have been subsequently returned by a retailer or customer, or units that have failed to be delivered. Graded stock is given a unique code, which is read by the unattended scanners at sortation. The sortation system diverts these units to a separate channel for manual processing and eventual storage and re-despatch.
This previously ran using a paper-based system where the operators would make a note of the model number. At the end of the shift the operator would tally up the model numbers processed and would pass the sheet to a colleague in stock control, who would manually “key in” the stock onto the mainframe system. This resulted in a large number of errors due to poor handwriting or keyboard errors, and customers were receiving the wrong goods, which then had to be returned and reprocessed.
The Datalogic Jets have also been configured with a user name and password so that an audit trail of all activities and errors can be traced and operators re-trained if necessary.
A further development since installing the Datalogic Jets is the improvement in speed of processing and the traceability of units randomly removed from the line for quality checks. Previously units were checked using paper-based systems resulting in limited traceability on these machines. Now the units are scanned by the Datalogic Jets as they are taken off the line for random checking and are automatically allocated to the quality control. This information is uploaded to their business system. This means that the business now has full visibility of exactly which units are undergoing quality checks at any time. The units are also scanned back into stock after being checked and reallocated for sale.
The company are planning to continue to develop applications for the Datalogic Jets, the first of which is to configure the units to run specific applications for different users.
DataScan Systems Limited was established in 1997, with a focus on developing solutions utilising Auto ID Technology. DataScan has relationships with many world class Auto-ID equipment manufacturers including Datalogic, renowned for their range of fixed position bar code readers and mobile computers, Escort Memory Systems, a leading manufacturer of LF/HF Radio Frequency Identification equipment and JLT (CMC) manufactures of rugged tablet PC's. DataScan remains at the forefront of Auto-ID and Data Capture. DataScan is one of only two UK based Datalogic Authorised Repair Centres and is authorised to repair the full range of Datalogic product.