Posts

DD8701_Avalon-Blog 9 Image (6_1)

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.

Imagine one day being able to offer same-day delivery across the country, from California to New York. For many transportation and logistics teams, this imagination has become a nightmarish reality. While fast delivery timeframes can bolster customer loyalty, last mile delivery is still considered the most inefficient step of the whole supply chain for over half of T&L companies. Inefficiency often stems from:

  • Lack of status visibility
  • Fluctuating labor and fuel costs
  • Inadequate delivery routing
  • Sudden changes such as vehicle breakdowns, product shortages, etc.

Studies show that 49% of global T&L companies cite outdated technology as a common factor hindering last mile efficiency, resulting in delays, missed sales, and lost customers. As a result. Over 58% of field operations see mobility investment as a top priority, yet when it comes to field services, durability must extend beyond design.

Assessing functional durability in your field-ready devices

Field teams have little time or money for additional repair expenses and slowed processing power, which is why suitable enterprise-grade technologies should incorporate the following strengths.

  1. Secured data storage – Filed teams must be able to access data remotely which means durable cybersecurity is crucial to maintain accessibility without risking breaches. Unlike Windows Mobile, Android for Enterprise equips mobile devices with government-grade protection and recurring security patches to prevent leaks.
  2. Long-range connectivity – High speed connectivity and flexible network options allow teams to remain connected to the rest of the supply chain while on the road. Zebra’s Workforce Connect bypasses the need for additional telecom services, enabling two-way communication and messaging via your enterprise device.
  3. Real-time status insight – Because more customers expect to track orders in near real-time, tracking technologies such as RFID locationing have become popular to pinpoint location of in-transit orders.
  4. Ultra-rugged design – Lastly, mobile devices must continue to be rugged, handling drops, dust, exposure to heat and cold, humidity and scratches without affecting performance. Devices such as Zebra’s Rugged Tablets exemplify superior durability by adapting to various different environments without compromising productivity.

As a Zebra Premier Solutions Partner, Avalon empowers field teams with purpose-built field-ready technologies through the GO Zebra Trade-In Program. Upgrade your mobile device from any manufacturer before December 31st and get cash rebates up to $250 per handheld device towards your upgrade. Simply…

  1. Buy your new mobile device
  2. Turn in your reclaim form
  3. Trade in outdated devices for cash rebates

Download the program details for the full list of eligible devices.

Empower your field teams with mobility solutions built to thrive in the last mile and beyond. Contact Avalon today for a free assessment of your mobile devices to get started.

 

 

From retail to field services, frontline workers are crucial to business success as they best represent brand competency and commitment to quality customer service. However, research suggests that this important segment is often overlooked during optimization opportunities, an issue that directly contributes to high labor turnover and expensive rehiring costs exceeding $5,000 per lost employee. In addition to high rehiring costs, disconnected frontline workers can lead to:

  • Impacted brand representation
  • Wasted resources such as fuel, packaging, and labor hours
  • Employee dissatisfaction
  • Slower customer support, deliveries, and maintenance reports
  • Overlooked worker safety concerns

To minimize these effects without completely restructuring your digital framework, Avalon partners with Zebra Technologies to introduce a seamless way to empower frontline teams in the most demanding environments. 

Rise up to any challenge with Workforce Connect. Watch our video to see how:

From the production floor to the front of the store, your whole supply chain operates as a team to ensure business continuity. That’s why Workforce Connect breaks through barriers in order to unify teams with greater operational visibility, real-time communication, and clear task organization. Deploy Zebra’s push-to-talk software on your enterprise-grade mobile device to create a scalable communication solution that connects the whole team on one platform. 

By simply strengthening communication channels within the workspace, you can foster new optimization opportunities such as:

  • Hardware reduction – Save on operational costs by streamlining data capture, computing, and communication into one device, eliminating two-way radios and extra maintenance services. 
  • Real-time task assignments – Notify teams of immediate changes in the workflow without disrupting operations and manage task completion to certify action was taken properly.
  • Ensured worker security – Amplify workflow visibility to pinpoint safety issues and disperse your workforce, mitigating accidents and risks in the warehouse and on the road.
  • Customer-centered order tracking – Provide your customers with real-time updates on their order’s status to meet new consumer expectations.
  • Appropriate hand-free communication for drivers – Integrate voice commands for calls and text messages in your fleet, so drivers can remain connected without taking their eyes off the road.
  • Actionable insights delivered on your handheld – Track delivery reporting, location history, dispatch interferences, and more through one interface set on your mobile device to facilitate data sharing and analytics. 

See how Workforce Connect enhances more than the warehouse when you download our brochure. 

Flexible and adaptable to your needs, Workforce Connect can be implemented on any of Zebra’s dependable enterprise devices. Reach out to our automation experts today to learn how you can deploy Workforce Connect in your current technologies and connect your frontline workers with a communication solution crafted to empower the workforce. 

Rapid advances in technology have left little room for errors to be tolerated by today’s customers. RFID technologies, faster data processing, and high-speed connectivity have helped shape new customer expectations, yet fulfilling these expectations without complete operational visibility may be difficult. As more brands move towards partial and full automation, warehouses must track and manage several crucial performance indicators to:

  • Spot bottlenecks before they cause downtime
  • Reduce inventory misplacements to prevent out-of-stocks
  • Adjust to surprise changes in product demand
  • Streamline workflows for faster processing and reduced labor costs
  • Lower overall operational costs without reducing efficiency
KPI Warehouse Tracking

KPIs warehouses have cited as top priority indicators to track in order to remain competitive

Next-generation visibility solutions can help expand control over your operations, yet in addition to implementation, one must consider which indicators to emphasize. Below are several KPIs warehouses have cited as top priority indicators to track in order to remain competitive in today’s highly digitized age.

  1. Cost of Order Processing Per Order – By measuring labor costs per order, you also gain insight into worker productivity and average estimated cycle time.
  2. Resource Utilization – From your mobile devices to your docks and storage, every part contributes to overall expenses, which is why it’s crucial to make sure every resource is properly used and maintained to prevent downtime.  
  3. Picking Accuracy – With so many businesses offering similar products, order accuracy, and positive customer service have become differentiating factors that can make or break a purchase. As a result, tracking order accuracy provides insight into possible customer retention.
  4. Carrying Costs – Stored inventory can lead to either possible revenue or financial loss over time. By tracking carrying costs, you are able to manage low and high-risk inventory, ultimately regulating stock levels.
  5. Inventory Turnover – What was cited as one of the most important KPIs, inventory turnover is directly linked to customer demand as you can track how often inventory comes and leaves the warehouse to travel down the supply chain. 
  6. Rate of ReturnAbout 51% of customers report abandoning a business after one bad experience. Tracking return and backorder rates can give better insight into how your customers are interacting with your products after purchases are complete.

RFID tracking has become a popular visibility solution gaining traction across several industries; however, despite its high accuracy rates and promising future, it may not be suitable for everyone. Consequently, Avalon’s experts have teamed up with Zebra Technologies in the latest Avalon podcast to shed greater light on the versatility of RFID.

In the event RFID does not sound suitable to your operations, Avalon specializes in many other visibility and identification systems such as:

  • Bluetooth Low-Energy  Locationing – More adaptable to smaller budgets, BLE can help locate assets for greater worker productivity, managed device utilization, and less downtime and misplacements. 
  • Enterprise-grade Data Capture – As a Zebra Premier Solutions Partner, Avalon provides pretested labels and consumables that retain product information from production to checkout. 
  • Versatile Mobile Computers – Modernized mobile computers and enterprise-grade operating systems such as Android OS can help streamline workflows while connecting your workforce in real-time either through high-speed connectivity or push-to-talk capabilities. Access our portfolio to explore all of Zebra’s enterprise-grade mobile computers.
RFID KPI Warehouse Visibility

Expand your RFID Visibility with Avalon Integration

To see how you can expand operational visibility, reach out to our RFID and automation specialists for a free assessment of your workflow, and integrate a future-forward solution tailored to your goals.

For quite some time, sustainability has been a goal in countless businesses, yet rising demands and new technologies often pose recurrent challenges in developing eco-friendly operations. More often than not, businesses channel most of their efforts in minimizing fuel waste in transportation and logistics services. However, researchers at the World Green Business Council actually cite warehouses and buildings as the prime energy consumers in the supply chain, releasing as much as 40% of energy-related carbon dioxide global emissions. While the effects of wasteful energy clearly impact the planet, they also affect your workforce and brand.

Warehouse Sustainability Improvements

69% of surveyed respondents prefer environmentally-conscious brands over their competitors

Studies conducted by the National Retail Federation and IBM found that 69% of surveyed respondents prefer environmentally-conscious brands over their competitors, suggesting sustainability has the capability of swaying customer loyalty. Not only does it affect customer experience, but sustainability efforts can also drive down costs as eco-friendly buildings are shows to spend a quarter less energy and 11% less water. While there are several small sustainability efforts to deploy in the warehouse, device versatility stands as one of the key ways to reduce energy consumption and eliminate e-waste.

The power of many streamlined into the flexibility of one

Streamline Warehouse Flexibility

Zebra’s portfolio of mobile computers and rugged tablets can streamline your warehouse

Higher demands put more pressure on your devices, wearing them down faster. Moreover, as more orders come in, workers may be required to perform several tasks (such as picking, printing, scanning, and put-away), sometimes all at once. Consequently, to lower energy consumption and extend device longevity without purchasing more handhelds, Avalon recommends streamlining crucial functions into one durable mobile device. For example, Zebra’s portfolio of mobile computers and rugged tablets channel the power of versatility by:

  • Eliminating paper-based data entry by connecting captured barcodes to your WMS
  • Securing continuous OS updates to keep devices running and secure for at least 5 years to 10 years
  • Equipping mobile devices with long-lasting batteries and battery management tools to monitor battery life
  • Integrating push-to-talk capabilities to erase the need for a secondary communication device

Furthermore, in our commitment to affordable sustainability, we have partnered with Zebra Technologies in driving down upgrade costs with the GO Zebra Trade-In Program.  Upgrade your mobile devices before December 31st, 2020 to switch your legacy devices for up to $650 in cash rebates per device towards your next purchase.

To see how you can streamline efficiency with a modernized versatile device, contact our automation specialists today for a free assessment of your operational needs.

Facing an increase of demands for seamless real-time tracking, many businesses are being forced to revisit their tracking systems in search of improvements. As a result, Avalon Integration has made it a priority to make sure our clients understand the differences between the top tracking technologies within today’s markets: RFID and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). 

Download the Warehouse Vision Study

Click here to download the Warehouse Vision Study

Last year’s Zebra’s Warehousing Vision Study estimated over a third of surveyed warehouses will invest in RFID and locationing technologies by 2024. From optimized picking to verified packing, to real-time inventory management, RFID and BLE serve as more than mere tracking systems as they both give you contextual intelligence to restructure operations based on trends and available resources. While they are both similar and useful, several key differences must be understood before choosing your next locationing system.

What will you need?

Zebra RFID Devices

Avalon and Zebra can help you deploy a complete RFID locationing system

Although both solutions can be customized to fit specialized needs, they both have set requirements when it comes to hardware. To deploy a complete RFID locationing system, you’ll need:

  • An Antennae – Your RFID antennae will connect the reader’s signal to the tags. Needless to say, damaged or subpar antennas can damage the whole operation as they can “lose” signals.
  • A Reader – Capturing up to 1000 codes with one trigger pull, your reader can be customized to match frequency type, delivering 99.99% accurate scans in less time than conventional barcoding.
  • Your choice of an active or passive tag – While RFID is significantly more expensive than other locationing systems, it provides greater flexibility in tagging options. Passive tags are more cost-effective since they don’t have any integrated power sources and can reach up to 82ft in the reading range. Active tags can track high-value assets more accurately with embedded power within the tag, covering a range of up to 328ft.

On the flip side, a BLE solution requires:

  • A BLE tag – These tags contain their own power source, which requires less energy from your operations. Tags generally communicate within ranges as high as 20ft.
  • A Reader – Because Bluetooth technology was developed within the same era as most smart devices, many consumer phones and technologies have Bluetooth capabilities and can serve as readers, reducing hardware costs. However, when it comes to securing reliable device performance in harsher environments, Avalon recommends pairing your BLE tags with enterprise-grade hardware instead.

How will your system communicate?

Complete RFID Tracking System

RFID tags communicate via radio-frequency waves with the antennae

RFID tags communicate via radio-frequency waves with the antennae, pinpointing tag location for real-time tracking. Your reader is then able to digest scanned information and transpose it onto your inventory management interface. This communication pattern empowers workers to:

  • Eliminate manual data entry 
  • Accelerate scanning without requiring line of sight
  • Integrate long-distance data capture

Bluetooth locationing differs from RFID in allowing tags to communicate with each other, eliminating complicated networks and wasteful energy. Readers can sense nearby Bluetooth beacons, providing real-time tracking without constant scanning along with:

  • Easiest implementation
  • Trackable users and assets 
  • Smaller power drain

BLE provides a simplified way to integrate real-time visibility into your operations, while RFID serves as a scalable and adaptable tracking system. Nevertheless, there are many other tracking choices you may want to consider.

Final Considerations

Warehouse Employee Scanning with RFID

Whether you choose an RFID or BLE tracking system, both methods will require an interface to collect and display your data. Once again, this is where consumer-grade devices are unsuitable since they would add extra weight to workers who already carry other enterprise-grade devices. To maximize worker comfort and device performance, modernized tracking solutions are tailored to fit into your mobile computer. As a Zebra Premier Solutions Partner, Avalon provides intelligent Zebra mobile computers that accommodate both BLE and RFID tracking systems onto a user-friendly Android system. To see how your mobile device can fit into an optimized tracking solution, contact us here.

Whether in the storefront or on the warehouse floor, mobility and visibility have proven to be essential assets in securing dependable productivity. However, facing increasingly complex supply chains – brought about either from the rise of e-com and/or new BOPIS purchase patterns – companies must learn to maximize both mobility and visibility in order to meet demands without compromise.

As a Zebra Premier Solutions Partner, Avalon Integration is able to explore multiple ways to leverage both mobility and visibility within today’s operations. From enterprise-ready rugged tablets to on-demand RFID mobile printers, modern warehouses can take a variety of pathways to building a mobility solution that enhances visibility. That’s why we’re exploring three mobility solutions that directly maximize visibility. 

Warehouse Handheld Enterprise Mobility Solutions from Zebra

Mobility Solutions for any warehouse

  • Enterprise Mobile Computing – According to surveys conducted by Zebra Technologies’ specialists, over 70% of warehouses are currently investing or seeking new ways to invest in mobility solutions. Failure to do so may damage your competitiveness. Operating with high-speed connectivity and flexible networking options, Zebra’s line of handheld computers secure viable communication channels inside and outside your warehouse, enhancing:
    • Inventory management
    • Order processing times
    • Efficient reverse logistics
  • Migration to Android – While migration may seem like an overwhelming task, it also opens doors to new opportunities such as secured data protecting and facilitated onboarding. Moreover, Android houses Zebra’s exclusive line of productivity applications, Mobility DNA, that allow you to:
    • Deploy push-to-talk features
    • Scan multiple barcodes simultaneously
    • Remotely manage battery performance and life cycles
    • Convert green-screen apps to touchscreen right out of the box
    • Track missing Zebra devices
  • Real-Time On-Demand Tracking – To meet new demands for faster delivery and fulfillment transparency, real-time locationing systems help track your inventory and/or assets. However, Zebra has taken tracking efficiency a step further with the all-new ZQ511/521 mobile printer, which can print 3 to 4 inches of RFID labels on-demand, virtually eliminating wait times and mislabeling errors since labels are readily available when and where needed, so you get:
    • Rugged mobile printing and RFID power fit for field service
    • Efficient workflows in and out of the warehouse
    • High battery performance that survives your longest shift
    • Adaptable printing speeds and darkness to accommodate temperature conditions

Have more questions about RFID? Ask Roi.

Avalon ROI Robot and Zebra

Needless to say, none of these solutions are mutually exclusive, which is why our modernization specialists work diligently to create custom solutions that adapt to your business.  Contact us to see how modernization can maximize mobility and visibility in your operations.

Back in 2019, buy-online pick-up instore (BOPIS) transactions were estimated to comprise less than 4% of grocery purchases. While studies suggested BOPIS would rise steadily within the coming years, nothing could have predicted the 62% spike in online orders resulting from extensive stay-home orders issued nationwide. While many companies were slowly in the process of enhancing their mobile ordering systems, less than a fifth of retailers admitted having necessary metrics to properly manage BOPIS transactions. The result has been strained operations and increasing turnover rates as businesses scramble to create safe frictionless fulfillment operations.

Although there are several technologies available to enhance BOPIS operations, Avalon investigates the most seamless and intuitive solutions to protect continuous productivity as well as employee safety and customer satisfaction. Working alongside leading manufacturers like Zebra Technologies, we analyze the core aspects to consider when creating a frictionless BOPIS system.

Staying ahead of Change

Staying Ahead of Change with BOPIS

Staying Ahead of Change with BOPIS

To design a frictionless BOPIS operation, there are several factors to consider. While numerous technologies may play a part in streamlining order fulfillment, your solution should prioritize the following:

  • Communication – Accurate picking heavily depends on reliable communication amongst the entire supply chain, from stocking teams to the end-client. While out-of-stocks can direct your customers to shop elsewhere, poor inventory team communication slows down associates assembling the order, leading to increased worker stress and picking errors. To streamline communication and data capture, Zebra’s TC7X and TC5X mobile computers utilize long-range connectivity and WiFi to keep teams connected through one easy-to-use Android device.
  • Processing Speed – Because of high demand, even the best click-and-collect services can’t offer immediate order fulfillment, yet newer intelligent scanning technologies such as the MC9300 and Zebra’s SimulScan can help drive down wait times by capturing barcodes in virtually any condition, erasing the need for secondary scans.
  • Inventory Visibility –  Needless to say, proper inventory management continues to be a crucial necessity in delivering optimal customer experience. One way to retain optimal identification throughout the supply chain is through quality identification labels. Zebra’s Certified Consumables are designed to meet FDA standards as well as any other specific compliance requirements all while performing in a wide variety of environments. See how Zebra labels are already enhancing BOPIS order identification in our brochure.

For over two decades, our experts have been committed to strengthening operations by providing efficient solutions that empower you to stay ahead of change. Contact us today for a free remote assessment of your current workflow to see how you can maximize any of these factors and more within your BOPIS operations.

ZT610Zebra is proving that 2017 will be one of its most profitable years to date by kicking off quarter three with the launch of its new industrial printer series, ZT600. The launch of this new series comes with the promise to expand integration with other business platforms, increase durability, scaling production numbers and controlling expenses, that was originally released with the Xi series.

The ZT600 series is composed of two high-performance devices, the ZT610 printer, and the ZT620 label printer. Both partners of the new launch feature an easy to navigate interface, a sleek, clean design, and quick turnaround time that keeps the consumer in full control. The ZT610 is the printer with the faster print time, 356 m per second to be exact, as well as 600 dpi print resolution and a 4-inch visibility screen. No doubt, the ZT610 will soon see popping up in home offices, startup businesses, and high-performance operations departments.

Right in line with the ZT610, the ZT620 is the label printer for high demand office environments that also utilize mailing in multiple components of their business. This metal-based printer generates labels at a maximum speed of 12 inches per second, and six inches wide. The ZT620 will most likely be spotted in post offices, retail brick and mortar stores, and C2C businesses.

An exciting end to the 2017 fiscal year is sure to be in store for Zebra technologies and its’ consumers!

Contact us today for information.

Avalon Homepage Logos13

How the Internet of Things (IoT) is Changing the Way We Work

Internet Of Things iOTOf the many new technologies that have emerged in the past decade, the Internet of Things (IoT) and mobile computing are leading the way in allowing companies of all sizes to become more efficient and effective. As more and more companies embrace the idea of a mobile workforce, the IoT allows their workers to manage multiple tasks, access data in real-time, and embrace empowerment at the touch of a button.

Most industry observers say we are still at the very beginning stages of leveraging this incredible new age of automation. In manufacturing, distribution, and warehousing, the IoT can come alive on virtually every mobile computing device deployed. The Honeywell CT50 handheld mobile computer, for example, fits in your pocket but is designed for the rigors of a warehouse environment, giving users the ability to talk, text, access the company network, and much more. It can be as simple as developing a targeted mobile application and placing it into the hands of your mobile workforce.

Realizing a boost in productivity is the biggest advantage – which helps to control or even reduce costs, eliminates errors, and even improves worker safety. When your workers have virtually everything they need in the palm of their hands, they can move freely, save time and improve the quality of workflow processes.

What is the Most Prominent Emerging Technologies?

Further technologies are shaping the future of automation as organizations leverage the Internet of Things (IoT):

  • BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) – There is hesitation within the organization to allow employees to use their own devices, there are several devices on the market that can offer the features and functionality of a warehouse device, but with the sleek, modern design of a personal device.
  • Big Data – The technology further enables us to manage big data easily – giving companies greater visibility on many fronts. Flexibility in accessing data helps users become more informed, provide better customer service, and increase quality assurance.
  • Artificial Intelligence and Smart Homes – SIRI, OK Google, and Amazon’s Alexa can turn on your TV, turn up the volume, shut off the lights, add an item to your shopping list and do pretty much everything except fix breakfast. Where will this technology fit in our industry? Time will tell

What does the Future Hold for the IoT and Mobile Computing?

In their most recent Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update, Cisco reports that mobile data traffic (over the IoT) has increased by 1800% in the past five years! Mobile computing has leapfrogged every other technology in terms of acceptance and we are not even close to realizing its full potential.

Every day there are new advances and we just seem to take them in stride. We can now talk to a device and have it talk back to us. Companies routinely recommend other things for us to buy based on past buying habits and the buying habits of other people like us.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is the backbone of all the emerging technologies and providers are racing to get fiber to as many users as possible.  All those work crews you see on your streets are laying the network of the future and the information those networks carry are revolutionizing our world.

How do We Get Started?

Interested in further exploration of the world of mobile computing? Let us help you navigate the waters today so you can start realizing the potential of your organization with the advantages of mobile computing. Ask us how we’re helping other companies and the ways in which they’ve been able to improve workflow processes for better overall efficiency.

Contact us today for information.