Trending Rugged at NRF 2017: Increasing Warehouse Efficiencies

The 2017 NRF Big Show for will cover a wide diversity of topics that retailers want to understand and assimilate into their operations for this and coming years. One topic that is bubbling to the surface is the role and function of back-end applications for retail warehouses and the technologies that enable and support them. These systems are especially important as companies continue their journey toward digital transformation of their warehouse operations.

When retail customers make purchases through either online or physical stores they expect consistent levels of service. But what most retail customers don’t understand is the intricate workings that get the products from the warehouses to their shopping carts and/or directly to their homes. Suppliers who deploy the right combination of technologies and devices in warehouses can succeed and not only keep up with their orders but automate details as well as anticipate and respond to issues before they interfere with getting orders out the door.

This year show-goers will focus on streamlining their warehouse operations by implementing state-of-the-art back-end applications that integrate their various supply chain and ERP applications with the warehouse floor. Part of their quest is to identity mobile devices that give warehouse workers direct access to their automation throughout their facilities. Many warehouse operators have found that consumer grade equipment can’t endure the rigors of the environment and this year they are looking for ruggedized tablets, handhelds and laptops that can withstand the rough handling and sometimes unfriendly conditions they encounter in the warehouse.

Key features to identify

Ruggedized mobile devices top the criteria for warehouse users because conditions can be tough on electronics.  For example it’s not uncommon that a worker’s mobile device is knocked out of their hands and lands on a concrete floor. This kind of hard landing usually shatters a consumer grade unit’s screen but even if the screen survives the internal computing components can be damaged. Fully ruggedized solutions such as Panasonic Toughbook computers, tablets and handhelds are built to withstand these conditions.

Flexible form factors offered in sizes from 4.7 to 10″ and feature both Windows and Android operating systems to integrate with the widest array of retail applications and interfaces are ideal. They offer retailers high usability over a range of application environments from the warehouse to the delivery truck.

Reliability and resistance to drops, dirt, and liquids means workers can keep on working even after a mishap. When screens and keyboards can be washed and don’t crack or break, orders can be processed and deliveries made on time.

Wireless connections are not always optimal in warehouse conditions so tablets and laptops need specially optimized antennae and radios that can find the best signal and stay connected in areas with marginal coverage.

Integrated scanning means more than simple barcode image scanning because warehouses are increasingly turning to RFID tags to identify and control inventory. Tablets that include RFID radio and optical scanning technologies offer extended utility.

Panasonic will be highlighting a number of brand new technologies at the 105th annual NRF Big Show at booth #3335 including its Toughbook mobile devices that are purpose-built to thrive under even the most demanding warehouse environments.

We invite you to stop by our booth and see our newest technologies and discuss your business needs with our retail mobile solution experts.