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intelligent automation DD8701_Avalon-Blog-11-Image-6_15

We’ve been discussing the rising popularity of intelligent automation in today’s warehouses. However, while a vast majority of operations are enhancing teams with multi-functional hardware, many businesses still struggle to use new technologies since well over half of workforces are outsourced and/or cyclical. Outsourcing crucial workflows, such as picking and shipping, creates a challenge in user adoption since new hires must be constantly re-trained, halting productivity and order throughput.

While Android-based devices have been shown to decrease adoption rates through a familiar interface, workers may still face issues when it comes to other core applications such as inventory management, WMS updates, and communication channels. Studies show that almost half of warehouses experience IT breakdowns at least a few days a week, most stemming from:

  • Dropped connectivity
  • Inefficient scan engines
  • Missed software updates
  • Lack of standardization
  • Missed maintenance schedules

To prevent these issues from diminishing the impact of automation efforts, Zebra’s Mobility DNA applications offer an additional level of adaptable intelligence to modernized devices that’s easy to adopt by your changing labor force.

Competitive intelligence is built from the inside out

Designed with simplicity in mind, Zebra’s Mobility DNA apps tackle the pervasive problems of IT breakdowns by:

  1. Securing WiFi connectivity within the four walls – Connectivity is the backbone of unbroken uptime, which is why Zebra’s WorryFree WiFi delivers no-drop WiFi connectivity to protect productivity with near-instant response times.
  2. Integrating intelligent data capture – Digitization eliminates the failures of manual data entry, but applications like SimulScan and DataWedge go a step farther by enabling multiple barcode scanning and instant data transmission for minimized keystrokes and faster throughput.  
  3. Automatic updates and security patches – With the high prevalence of cyberthreats in today’s digital world, companies can no longer compromise on security. Zebra’s LifeGuard works alongside Android’s automatic OS updates with recurring 90-day security patches, extending device lifecycle up to 10 years.
  4. Converting legacy apps without backend modifications – Although touchscreen apps are more conductive for faster adoption, legacy green-screen apps are more familiar to the older workforce and contain a clear workflow layout. That’s where apps like All-Touch Terminal Emulation come in handy in order to convert TE apps right out of the box for immediate use without app rewriting.
  5. Facilitated remote device management – As the workforce grows, so does the need for more devices, which makes device management indispensable. Apps like PowerPrecision held track battery lifespan, virtually eliminating downtime from battery failure.

These are just a few of the benefits Mobility DNA brings. Download the full guide to see more.

Intelligent modernization takes many forms. Create a system that best adapts to your workforce with Avalon. Contact our automation experts for a close evaluation of your current solution to see how you can get started.

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Zebra’s latest Warehouse Vision Study illustrated a very clear picture: Automation has become the center focus of the modern supply chain. Over three quarters of warehouses across the globe have committed to embracing automation by enhancing the workforce with intelligent modernized technologies like rugged tablets and mobile computers. As newer technologies are released and redefine supply chain efficiency, new benefits and features are introduced to fast-paced operations. However, despite product variety, it is still crucial to expect the following benefits from your modernization solution:

  1. Enterprise-ready durability – Whether in the plummeting temperatures of a cold storage unit or the heat of an outside distribution yard, enterprise devices must be designed to retain high-performance functionality despite external conditions. Newer technologies do this by integrating greater IP ratings, condensation-resistant screens, greater drop specs above 5ft., and even disinfectant-ready casing to withstand constant antibacterial wipe downs.
  2. Future-proof operating systems – Without proper security patches and updates, Microsoft’s outdated operating systems can slow down operations while excluding important applications from your enterprise devices. On the other hand, systems such as Android for Enterprise protect uptime with automatic silent updates. Zebra’s Fortified Android goes a step farther by extending update lifecycles up to 10 years.
  3. Simplistic ease of use – Although new devices are capable of doing more than their legacy versions, they should still retain user-friendliness in order to facilitate onboarding and deployment with minimal downtime.
  4. Quick adaptability to change – Whether it be increased labor turnover rates or sudden product demand, adaptable technologies and software can accommodate change through maximized ease of use and/or open app ecosystem. This minimizes disruptions within workflows, protecting productivity rates.
  5. Trustworthy security parameters – For obvious reasons, cybersecurity has become a vital necessity within the Digital Age. Once again, Zebra’s fortified Android exemplifies aggressive data security with recurring security patches, government-grade encryption, and tiered authorization levels for a variety of mobile devices.
  6. Dependable connectivity – When changes occur, the whole supply chain may be affected, which is why sustainable connectivity is key to keeping all departments updated in real-time.
  7. Increased visibility – Lastly, modernized technology should be committed to optimizing operational visibility in order to prevent surprise downtime, bottlenecks, and extraneous costs. For example, mobile computers contribute to enhanced visibility by eliminating manual data entry from receiving and loading docks, boosting inventory accuracy for minimal out-of-stocks.

Come Take the Closer Look

As a Zebra Premier Solutions Partner, Avalon will take the next few weeks to dive into the expanding benefits Zebra’s latest technologies bring to the modern warehouse in addition to the ones highlighted above. From new printing standards to a whole new tablet interface, discover a new level of modernized efficiency when you contact our modernization experts today to learn more.

Way before the global pandemic, modern order fulfillment had already proven to be both complex and fast-paced. As e-commerce continues to fuel the now-economy, today’s fulfillment centers and supply chains find themselves in a competitive landscape to meet evolving customer demands such as:

  • Faster order delivery falling between 1 to 5 business days
  • Ability to track orders as they move down the supply chain
  • Certified worker safety, disinfection, and contactless transactions
  • Continuous stock availability 
  • Seamless and free returns

Failing to meet any of these requirements can hinder the customer experience, ultimately impacting brand loyalty, satisfaction rates, and profitability. While there are several ways to optimize each requirement, data capture automation stands as a simplistic method to start securing efficiency and greater visibility across the whole supply chain with less workflow modifications. 

What to look for in your automated data capture solution?

Studies indicate that while 72% of businesses are investing in technologies designed to reduce TCO, about a fifth of companies still struggle to implement effective automation. Easy-to-deploy and cost-effective, automated data capture has taken center stage as a bridge to softly allow businesses to modernize without restructuring their operations. To accomplish this, modernized data capture should…

  • Integrate intelligent capabilities – While general-purpose scanners can effectively capture barcodes within a controlled setting, warehouses may be operating in busy and/or extreme conditions. That’s why intelligent scanners must be able to capture small, fading, and even scratched barcodes in a variety of surfaces, sometimes multiple codes at once. Applications like Zebra’s SimulScan and Multi-Code Data Formatting (for mobile computers and handheld scanners respectively) illustrate this by capturing specific barcodes within one larger document. Intelligent PRZM imaging also helps expand scanner performance by accelerating data capture and deciphering inferior barcodes for accurate scans. 
  • Connect with your data processing system – Your digital devices are merely an extension of your team, which means they should strive to connect teams. Solutions combining data capture and computing within one device cut complicated workflows by keeping your data accessible and safe through one platform.  Collected data can be converted to actionable insights and timely updates to prevent future complications before they arise.
  • Be scalable and adaptable – Demands can change in a blink of an eye. Consequently, a modernized scanning solution should be able to readily adapt to fluctuating workforce size, stringent disinfection cycles, longer shifts, and increased order throughput without increasing training times or radically changing crucial applications. This is where intelligent rugged scanner design combined with an intuitive software can help maintain uptime in the midst of change, freeing up your teams to focus on other opportunities for growth. 

See how Zebra’s DataCapture DNA continues to simplify scanning automation in our video:

As a Zebra Premier Solutions Partner, Avalon Integration works with a wide variety of enterprise-ready scanners and mobile computers to seamlessly automate data capture. To see how you can start upgrading your scanning systems without disrupting operations, contact our modernization team for a free assessment.  

In the digital age, efficient innovation can take many forms, which is why Avalon’s modernization experts are constantly watching and experimenting with the latest trends. As solutions like robotics, machine intelligence, and time-efficient automation continue to reshape the post-pandemic world, we’ve invited our team to share valuable insights as to how you can benefit from these new modernization initiatives. Tune into our podcast to learn more:

With over 70% of warehouses planning to enhance the workforce with automated solutions, there has never been a riper time to start modernizing. To see how you can start integrating future-forward technologies into your workflows, reach out to our team for a comprehensive assessment of your opportunities.

Innovative technologies, such as machine learning and real-time locationing, have long served as prime examples of today’s modernization efforts in warehousing, yet these disruptive initiatives have also been seen as “too complex” and “far off” by many operations -largely because of common misconceptions such as:

  • “Modernization requires extensive piloting and time to produce measurable ROI.”
  • “Modernization is only suitable for large-scale operations.” 
  • “Modernization will replace human operators.”
  • “Modernization is too expensive.”

With at least 69% of businesses claiming to have poor visibility into their supply chains, the time for misconceptions such as these is over. Because the digital era demands both speed and accuracy equally, outdated warehouse processes are no longer suitable to keep you competitive. However, modernization doesn’t have to be as complicated as you think, which is why we wanted to bring clarity to the four statements presented above:

  • “Modernization requires extensive piloting and time to produce measurable ROI.”

Design and piloting allow your team to test and tweak your solution for best results; however, extensive testing can drain budgets while causing downtime due to longer training periods. Nevertheless, modern touchscreen interfaces and Android’s user-friendly platform are developed to help minimize training for faster deployment and ROI. As a matter of fact, TE-app converters such as Zebra’s All-Touch Terminal Emulation help convert “green-screen” apps right out of the box without backend modifications for faster integration. 

  • “Modernization is only suitable for large-scale operations.” 

Working with a wide range of clients, from small and growing businesses to Fortune 500 companies, we’ve seen modernization solutions built with enterprise-grade technologies readily adapt in various-sized businesses. By streamlining multiple tasks through one device, technologies like the MC9300 computer can accomplish several specialized tasks through one intuitive interface, adapting to different workloads while accommodating growth.  

  • “Modernization will replace human operators.”

This is a common -and serious- concern regarding warehouse modernization, yet studies show that over 70% of warehouses actually plan to enhance human labor with partial automation. Simply put, while computers can intelligently gather and deliver information, human minds are still crucial to executing final decisions. For example, Zebra’s MotionWorks solution incorporates future-forward RFID locationing to track in-motion inventory and provide actionable insights that allow your workforce to make accurate plans to meet future needs and overcome challenges before they happen. By automating repetitive tasks, a modernized warehouse can also empower the workforce to deal with more high-level tasks.   

  • “Modernization is too expensive.”

Because effective modernization does not require a complete restructuring of your operations, it may actually be more affordable than previously imagined. On the flipside, outdated technologies can lead to high inaccuracies, missed compliance codes, multiple device servicing contracts, and frequent tech support and downtime – all greatly contributing to operational costs.  As a Zebra Premier Solutions Partner, Avalon works hard to make modernization as seamless and cost-effective as possible. Upgrade legacy devices from any manufacturer through the GO Zebra Trade-In Program to get cash back rebates up to $650 per device towards your upgrade. 

Every operation possesses its own unique requirements, which is why we know there may be other concerns and misunderstandings beyond what was covered. Contact us today to see how efficient modernization can help ease your doubts and turn challenges into opportunity. 

As one of the most demanding and customer-centric sectors of business, retail often involves a great deal of direct-contact services, potentially exposing both customers and employees to harmful pathogens in high-density areas. Furthermore, because most shoppers still prefer to touch products before purchase, pathogens may also be spread via high-touch surfaces. Lastly, as businesses begin to regrow, device sharing may also become ever more common, further contributing to germ spread. While there may still be weeks before most retail stores officially welcome shoppers, it’s not too early to start planning and developing a reliably thorough infection control system. 

Generating over one trillion dollars in 2017, the retail sector has become a crucial contributor to the U.S. economy, yet after facing one of the biggest health challenges of our time, it’s only natural that customers will expect more from the retail business. Valuing both the employee and customer experience, Avalon Integration is already working with leading manufacturers and innovators in gathering the best resources to help you get ready for opening day.

Open for Business – Not Germs

Open for Business with Disinfection

Open for Business Not for Germs

When creating an infection control system that adapts into the customer-focused retail landscape, combine the power of human intelligence with automated reliability by:

  • Setting time aside for proper disinfection – Just like grocery stores have separated large amounts of time to clean and restock, retail stores can implement similar procedures. Moreover, cleaning procedures should be implemented within workflows as devices are shared between associates.
  • Dedicating labor efforts to oversight – With multiple touch-points spread throughout retail stores, close oversight may be necessary to prevent missed sanitation and cleaning cycles. Further secure sanitation cycles with automated disinfection technologies such as Proximity’s UV-Clean which kills bacteria and records sanitation cycles for future auditing.
  • Choosing committed flexibility – Adaptable to your workspace, UV-Clean’s different mounting options bring the power of ultraviolet disinfection to even the smallest space, eradicating 99.99% of bacteria in under 5 minutes, restoring devices into your workforce’s hands as quick as possible to maximize uptime.

See how UV light stands against germs when you download our infographic.

Not sure where to start? Contact Avalon Integration for a free assessment of your infection control technology and safeguard your employees and customers with solutions built for maximum productivity and safety. 

While still revolutionary in nature, automation may not strike as new since it’s been discussed at great lengths for the past years. However, automation isn’t the only trend redefining efficient warehousing. Adaptive to change, efficient warehousing is set to be influenced by trends such as:

  • Rise of Machine Learning and A.I.
  • Modernized RFID Solutions
  • Push for Sustainable Practices
  • Blockchain Connectivity
  • Demand for Same-Day Delivery
  • Fluctuating International Tariffs
  • Big Data
  • Wearable Technologies
  • Cloud Computing
  • Real-time Locationing
  • Digital Twins

From the first generation of mobile computing to the latest OS migration wave, Avalon Integration has specialized in maximizing operational efficiency with the best resources available. That’s why we’re facing these trends confidently with brand-new solutions and technologies to be introduced at the Modex 2020 Tradeshow.

Got Plans for March 9th-12th?

Leveraging Industry Changes for Modex

Leveraging Industry Changes for Modex

For four days, Avalon Integration invites you to join over 900 leading technology providers and manufacturers such as Zebra Technologies in leveraging the latest industry changes for maximized operational efficiency that leads to:

  • Increased supply chain visibility – New connectivity options and security measures have paved the way for transparent supply chain operations where every member can participate.
  • Efficient picking and fulfillment strategies – Breakthroughs in labeling technology such as RFID, Bluetooth beacons, and automated data capture have maximized order accuracy by eliminating the errors normally associated with manual data entry. Now, newly digitized processes and wearable technologies such as the WT6000 and ring scanners can further maximize accuracy while expediting order processing.
  • Streamlined returns management operations – Cloud-based software and increased inventory visibility can lead to simplified return management systems. Real-time locationing and productivity applications such as Zebra’s Mobility DNA can expand warehouse visibility, equipping you with better insights into where and how your returned inventory is processed.

 

Modex 2020 Powered by MHI Logo

Modex 2020 Logo

From meaningful networking to in-depth knowledgeable seminars, get a close look into the key industry changes set to reshape the future within the coming years. Meet us at booth #3607 at the Modex 2020 Tradeshow and refine efficiency with the leaders in effective innovation.

However, you don’t need to wait two weeks to experience a new standard in productivity. Speak to our warehousing specialists today to discover new customized solutions designed to maximize your competitive edge, so you can stay ahead of today’s challenges and tomorrow’s trends.

Business in America has always been competitive, as that is simply the nature of capitalism. There are a few things that are new and different now though, which are fundamentally changing how many of our clients competing:

Portrait of Dan McCabe

Portrait of Dan McCabe

Unemployment

Unemployment is now at a 40-year low. It is harder than ever to recruit strong players to your team.

Direct to consumer shipping

For most of our clients, the historical norm was to ship pallet quantities to distributors who would then take it from there.

Because people have become accustomed to “same day shipping, next day delivery”, many of our clients now find themselves shipping in case quantities to tens of distribution centers around the country, or, in some cases drop shipping in batches direct to consumers on behalf of web retailers or their distributors.

This is problematic because our clients’ warehouses, systems, procedures, and people often were not set up to do this case or each picking in an efficient fashion.

These two factors are causing many of our clients to really ramp up their investments in technology.

  • Clients that run on pen and paper are looking to deploy mobile computers.
  • Clients that run on mobile computers are looking to deploy wearable computers, voice-based systems, and even heads up displays to further improve productivity.
  • Clients with the largest workforces are even starting to deploy “co-bots” (robots that work alongside humans) and other forms of automation (self-driving forklift anyone?)

What’s going out outside the warehouse?  In production areas?

Dan Mccabe holding the MC9300 from Zebra Technologies

Dan Mccabe holding the MC9300 from Zebra Technologies

The hot top is “mistake-proofing”.  Low unemployment is resulting in more mistakes than ever before.

Whether that is because the new employees aren’t as capable as they used to be, the turnover is higher than it used to be, or there is less time to train them, the result is the same – more mistakes.

Many of our clients are keenly aware that mistakes are on the rise and that mistakes can be very expensive.  They are looking to us for technologies, products, and solutions that will help them prevent mistakes or at least catch them while they are still in the building when the are comparatively cheap to fix.

The 2 big technologies that are really ramping up are:

RFID

We’ve been hearing about RFID for almost 20 years now, with very few deployments outside of apparel in retail. What’s new is that RFID has grown at >50% nationally in each of the past 3 years and much of that growth is outside of retail. People are using RFID to systemically catch when people, assets, or inventory are not where they are supposed to be, BEFORE something bad happens.

Bluetooth Locationing

With RFID, tags are cheap, and readers are expensive.  With Bluetooth, those are flipped. When people want to track a comparatively small number of reusable things (think totes or gaylords) across a large area, Bluetooth can be a more cost-effective solution and we are starting to see a lot of interest in this area.

Are these things really here?  Are they right for me?

All of the technologies that I’ve mentioned are definitely here today. However, they are at different stages of maturation and require different levels of commitment from your IT staff to deploy.  Our job here at Avalon is to help you figure out how to get the most out of your workforce based on the budget and IT resources you have available.

Interestingly enough, folks at a single plant or warehouse tend to have ready access to budget, but not much access to IT support.

We often find ourselves working across plants and warehouses in the same organization to “drum up” support for a corporate initiative which will enable the individual sites to “skip” a few iterations of technology all at once.  That almost always requires a bit of IT support.

Committed to helping others in any situation, Dan McCabe can assist you in evaluating your current workflow to integrate the appropriate technology. To discover your match, speak to Dan McCabe today and unlock all the possibilities hidden in the modern warehouse and plant.

New dynamic supply chains can increase the probability of errors and inefficient labor as orders have become increasingly more complex and customers more demanding. Although online shopping is set to contribute trillions of dollars into the global economy, it has also contributed to a vast array of operational concerns such as:

  • Data security 
  • Lack of transparency in inventory and asset management
  • Undervalued and/or unskilled workforces 
  • Adaptability for future market shifts
  • Shipping speeds

Coupled with today’s high employee turnover, dynamic supply chains are redefining operational efficiency. As always, Avalon Integration is ready to help you in navigating through this new industrial landscape with enterprise-grade resources built to maximize ROI while addressing operational concerns. 

MC9300 can improve your Dynamic Supply Chains and Maximize ROI

The MC9300 from Zebra can improve your Dynamic Supply Chains and Maximize ROI

Where to Begin?

Since they occupy virtually every aspect of your warehouse operations, your handheld devices are an ideal place to begin enhancing worker productivity. Aware of today’s concerns, leading manufacturers like Zebra Technologies have developed a versatile portfolio of goal-focused technologies that enrich:

  • Supply Chain Connectivity – From manufacturers to distribution centers to delivery drivers, it takes a large team to properly handle inventory. However, the need for secured communication channels remains as vital as ever. Dependable devices such as the TC7X provide reliable connectivity even in the most remote areas thanks to several networking options (WiFi, Bluetooth locationing, GPS, Cellular LTE), so your entire team can stay updated of any changes before they hinder the workflow.
  • Inventory Management – While the two may seem far removed, proper inventory management can boost customer satisfaction since orders are processed and delivered more quickly. Happy customers become loyal customers, adding to your overall profitability. Minimizing surprise out-of-stocks, new RFID locationing technology such as Zebra’s readers, antennas, and rugged tags can verify received/shipped inventory to ensure it reaches the correct destination in time. Moreover, RFID tags further increase investment returns by eliminating the need for several barcodes.
  • Labor Productivity – With the current national unemployment rate and all-time low at 3.6%, warehouses have faced more challenges in hiring and retaining skilled laborers. By automating repetitive tasks such as data capture with user-friendly devices like the MC9300, your workforce can apply their skills into crucial tasks, maximizing productivity, and employee satisfaction.

Efficiency in Action

To see these solutions in action, catch live demonstrations, in-depth assessments, and unprecedented unveilings at the 2020 Modex Tradeshow, or skip the wait and contact us today for a free assessment of your current workflow.

Ten years ago, the modern warehouse looked a lot different than it does today. Manual data-entry predominated most operations, and smart technologies, such as versatile tablets and RFID locationing seemed more like science-fiction than reality. Needless to say, today’s modern warehouse has shattered previous standards with unparalleled mobility, greater visibility, and designed ergonomics. 

However, change does not stop.

According to Zebra’s 2019 Warehousing Vision Study, over three-quarters of surveyed warehouses are increasing their competitiveness by equipping workers with intelligent technology. RFID, blockchain, and virtual reality have been coined as disruptive technologies set to shape field operations, along with 5G technology when it finally arrives with full force in 2023. Other notable modernization drivers include the prevalence of social media shopping –which will account for a fifth of returned shipments in the coming decade–  and drop shipping, which is already the preferred fulfillment method of 33% of online stores. At face value, modernization may seem overwhelming and confusing, yet as experts in innovative efficiency, Avalon Integration is ready to share tips and hints on how to navigate the wonderful world of warehouse modernization. 

Data Entry Modernization to improve your warehouse

Go Where Manual Data-Entry Has Never Been Before

From bottlenecks to missed deliveries, manual data entry can impact workflows throughout your supply chain. On the other hand, modernization elevates productivity with greater accuracy, visibility, and affordability. Before beginning any modernization strategy, we recommend keeping three considerations in mind:

  • Different levels of automation may be required – Although intelligent, automated systems can’t do everything independently, which is why different levels of automation can enhance your current workforce without eliminating necessary labor. As a result, your modernization strategy should include user-friendly devices that collaborate with your workforce.
  • Scalability is crucial – In 2010, e-commerce accounted for 7.2% of total retail sales. Nine years later, it has contributed over $3 trillion worldwide, with several online stores actually opening real brick-and-mortar locations. Therefore, chosen technologies should be able to transition in and out of the warehouse with ease.
  • Enterprise-grade devices make a difference – With more demand for expedited shipping, both your employees and their devices will face new environments, some more rigorous than others. Consequently, new mobile solutions should be durable from the inside out to endure tough conditions with unbroken functionality.

In line with our commitment to innovative productivity, Avalon is proud to introduce Zebra Technologies’ newest generation of enterprise-grade technology, intelligently rugged and adaptable to your growing workforce.

With the right tools, the modernization journey is made simple. Start your optimization process with the leaders in integrated efficiency, and face change confidently with the best resources available.