Bluetooth-enabled barcode scanners boost warehouse productivity
Bluetooth technology has given users a new level of freedom in the way they operate computing and communications devices. Being able to talk on a cell phone—and keep both hands on the steering wheel—while driving is a prime example. Now that same level of freedom is being given to warehouse workers, thanks to the introduction of a Bluetooth-enabled bar code scanner by LXE, a manufac...
Bluetooth technology has given users a new level of freedom in the way they operate computing and communications devices. Being able to talk on a cell phone—and keep both hands on the steering wheel—while driving is a prime example.
Now that same level of freedom is being given to warehouse workers, thanks to the introduction of a Bluetooth-enabled bar code scanner by LXE, a manufacturer of rugged mobile computers.
The LXE Bluetooth Ringer Scanner also is classified as a wearable computer, because the device fits on users' index finger and is connected to a battery pack worn on the hand or arm.
After scanning a barcode, the device transmits the data to a vehicle-mounted computer, recording the movement of material.
“It's perfect for the warehouse because it enables users to use both hands for an activity such as loading a pallet, but it also allows them to conduct bar-code scanning,” says Doug Brown, director, product management, LXE. “It may not sound like such a big deal at first, but we have users tell us they can load a pallet 20 percent to 30 percent faster by not having to holster a handheld mobile computer.”
That time savings is becoming increasingly critical as customers start to submit more complex orders. For instance, retailers asking that different types of products—such as body soap and laundry detergent—be placed on the same pallets in order to minimize inventory and transportation costs.
“We're seeing this trend grow quickly, in industries ranging from automotive to consumer packaged goods,” Brown says, adding that the Bluetooth Ring Scanner is an excellent tool for these tasks.
Safelite AutoGlass, a national supplier of vehicle glass, found that to be true. Safelite, based in Columbus, Ohio, offers complete aftermarket vehicle glass service for retail and wholesale customers from manufacturing through installation and repair, even managing the insurance claims process.
During its recent transition to a mixed-pallet approach, Safelite deployed a warehouse management system with mobile computers. It wanted to test LXE's Bluetooth Ring Scanner because handling vehicle glass requires two hands, says Michael Bradsher, facility controller for manufacturing and distribution at Safelite.
The company now uses a Cambar warehouse management system that includes 18 of LXE's MX7 flagship rugged handheld computers, and 25 of LXE's VX6 rugged vehicle-mounted computers. Safelite also uses LXE's Bluetooth Ring Scanners for cable-free communication between the scanner and mobile computer.
Shortly after deploying the system, Safelite saw a dramatic increase in worker productivity, Bradsher says.
“With the Bluetooth-enabled ring scanner, workers are able to quickly scan the appropriate bar code without having to pick up and then put down a mobile terminal, or walk back to the vehicle-mounted unit,” Bradsher says. “The light weight also prevents fatigue during the shift. Our associates use the ring scanners, and they like them.”
Annual Salary Survey
After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.
The respondents to the 2014 Plant Engineering Salary Survey come from throughout the U.S. and serve a variety of industries, but they are uniform in their optimism about manufacturing. This year’s survey found 79% consider manufacturing a secure career. That’s up from 75% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 63% figure when Plant Engineering first started asking that question a decade ago.