MODEX 2018 Preview: How to Create a Winning Warehouse

This month at MODEX 2018, the logistics industry will come together to discuss, experience and experiment with the technologies needed to work smarter, better, and faster in today’s evolving supply chain industry. Panasonic Mobility will be there to highlight how connected mobile technology helps fuel the future of improved workflow efficiencies.

Consider a retailer that wants to pinpoint exact status of shipments at any point within the supply chain. Or a manufacturer that wants to connect barcode scanning analytics, video surveillance of delivery docks, and warehouse forklift locations in order to quickly spot and address warehouse disruptions. Then there’s a wholesale frozen foods distributor that needs to regulate freezer temperatures inside warehouses and in-route shipping trailers hourly, and provide compliance reporting to key internal and external stakeholders. 

What do these three companies have in common? All of them can benefit from high levels of visibility, reliability, and accuracy that characterizes today’s mobile-powered supply chain and warehouse operations.

Companies focused on shipping a greater volume of orders faster, improving their “perfect order” rates (i.e., one that is on time, complete, free of damage, correct, and invoiced accurately), and optimizing their workforce logistics teams are increasingly turning to reliable, ergonomic, purpose-built mobile device-based solutions that deliver long battery life, rugged reliability, exceptional device connectivity, high levels of security, and flexible device configurations. 

“The market for wearable and mobile devices is exploding; they are becoming mainstream in both commercial and industrial applications,” according to the 2017 MHI Annual Industry Report. The report also found that mobile adoption is predicted to more than double to 45 percent within the next one to two years, from the 22 percent of respondents who are currently using wearables and mobile technology in their supply chains operations.

New World, New Rules

Expected to reach $4.48 trillion (USD) by 2021, worldwide e-commerce sales have made the distribution environment more challenging than ever. No longer focused on shipping pallets to specific retail destinations, today’s warehouses and distribution centers (DCs) are handling a huge volume of single orders for delivery right to their customers’ doorsteps. Largely driven by the “Amazon effect,” which finds more and more consumers expecting to get their deliveries within two days (or less), this trend is pushing logistics operations to adopt mobile technology solutions that help them work smarter, better, and faster in this “new world.”

Things aren’t much easier on the labor front, where finding the human resources needed to “scale up” quickly to meet new demands and fluctuations in business is more difficult than ever. The U.S. unemployment rate has hovered at 4.1 percent (“full employment”) since September 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, with employment continuing to rise in sectors like construction, retail trade, professional and business services, manufacturing, financial activities, and mining.  To attract and retain a new generation of employees to supply chains and warehousing, implementing the latest, mobile technology is imperative.

No Time for Device Downtime

Ecommerce, omni-channel distribution, the proliferation of single-item orders, and changing customer demands are all forcing companies to rethink the way they manage their supply chains. Add the national skilled labor shortage to this ever-expanding list of challenges and the end result is a warehouse or distribution center (DC) that’s more than ready for an infusion of mobile technology.

The Gold Standard in Warehousing

In a distribution environment where every second counts and “perfect orders” are the gold standard that all customers have come to expect, warehouse managers can’t afford to ignore mobility any longer.

Facing issues like worker fatigue, device downtime, turnover and training, warehouse teams need user-friendly rugged mobile technology solutions that not only helps reduce these pain points but also helps improve overall warehouse and DC efficiencies. When that happens, the end-to-end supply chain and all of its stakeholders come out winners.

Checklist for Today’s Logistics Managers

The warehouse of tomorrow needs purpose-built mobile technology to keep it running around the clock especially during peak times. To ensure the best match when selecting this technology, warehouse and logistics managers should look for:

  • Mobile devices and an ecosystem of solutions built with the end user in mind (e.g. glove compatibility on touchscreens and strong network connectivity performance).
  • Mobile equipment that can withstand harsh logistics and warehousing environment.
  • Vendors that design, engineer and manufacture their own devices (and as such, can tightly control and deliver high levels of quality).
  • Access to a highly-experienced team of specialists and hardware and software engineers for pre-sales selection, solution design, and readiness assessment for Windows or Android, including an Android Utilities Software ecosystem.
  • IT augmentation support for device staging, configuration, and deployment including vehicle installation solutions & services.
  • U.S.-based call centers that provide 24-hour support, U.S-based repair facilities, and unsurpassed turnaround on servicing, repair and return times.

Technologies for a Smarter, Faster, Safer Supply Chain

Despite the challenges facing today’s warehouse operations, the show must go on in the modern-day facility, where picking-and-packing procedures must be flawless, workflows well defined, and workplaces safe and secure. By capitalizing on technology, warehouses and DCs can help deliver the highest level of value to their customers while also staying productive and profitable.

These realities come together at MODEX 2018, where the logistics industry will converge and get up-close-and-personal with the latest supply chain technology and equipment. “MODEX lets you see what’s coming,” the trade show’s site states, “and take advantage of it to future-proof your supply chain for years to come.”

On the MODEX expo floor, for example, warehouse and logistics managers can get hands-on with the newest mobile devices, computers, and gadgets focused on streamlining processes and squeezing increased productivity out of existing operations. Mobile technology solutions that are not only rugged—but that are also supported by the right software, accessories, and technical engineering support—are needed to help improve operation environments where human resources are constrained, yet customer demand is at an all-time high.

With decades of experience creating enterprise-class mobile devices, Panasonic’s connected mobile technology solutions enable workers to be more productive and stay safer while ensuring that the supply chain functions better than ever before.

At MODEX 2018? Visit Panasonic Mobility at booth #B2511.