7 Questions to Ask as You Implement Mobility Solutions in Your Warehouse

Check out this great blog post by Larry Klimczyk, Vice President, Intermec Global Solutions:

“We all know the importance of choosing the right mobile device to optimize any warehouse process or solution. Based on the products you are handling, the size and layout of your warehouse, the systems and processes you have in place and your labor skill set, there are a variety of hardware choices to be made. What’s equally important is the framework by which you will prepare and protect that hardware for performance – from the earliest stages of your implementation through end of cycle. To ensure our customers are considering each stage in the lifecycle management of their mobile devices, the following questions should be asked before any implementation:

1. Do you have an existing WMS (Warehouse Management System)?
Understanding what work tasks will be performed and the type of data that will be gathered by your workforce will help determine the optimum solution.  For some processes, you might choose a voice-enabled solution. For processes where a mobile computer screen is needed, it’s necessary to decide if Terminal Emulation or a Browser based solution is more beneficial. Those choices will influence battery management, screen refresh speeds and scan speeds.

2. Will your warehouse have wireless coverage?
There are number of advantages associated with wireless coverage including faster response times and greater flexibility which results in higher productivity and faster returns on the investment.  When setting up a wireless infrastructure we recommend a professional assessment. It can lower your overall infrastructure costs while ensuring 100% coverage for maximum ‘up-time’.

3. How are you going to prepare your devices for deployment?
Loading the right software on the device and deploying it with the user sounds like a straight forward process, however, there are essential time-saving and quality control tools that can enhance this process.  Intermec’s Smart Systems software tools have saved organizations hundreds of hours of labor costs by accurately deploying and managing devices in their warehouses.  For organizations with lean ‘in-house’ resources Intermec offers ReadiCare.  This service simplifies staging and deployment by providing ‘out of the box – ready for use’ devices allowing your team to focus in other areas.

4. Are your training plans and resources structured for a successful technology implementation?
Research shows that less than 25% of mobility project teams properly plan adequate training for users impacted by the new equipment and processes, leading to one of the highest reasons projects fail.  Without proper training, the ongoing costs escalate and benefits are not realized. Intermec’s Education team provides resources that enhance your training program through in person, train the trainer and online training. We also provide new employee training on applications due to workforce turnover.

5. How will you deal with damages and repairs?
Through extended use your devices could incur damage and need repairs. Intermec offers the options of repair services and maintaining a spares pool thereby ensuring your operations remain fully equipped and productive.

6. How will you provide and manage user support?
After deployment, who will answer your users’ application and/or device questions? Ensuring maximum ‘up time’ is vital for productive warehouses. Intermec can provide helpdesk support and offer remote device control that instantly solve your users’ questions or issues.

7. Do you use returnable containers in your warehouse / distribution network? Do you often lose them?
If you answered ‘yes’ then you should consider the benefits that RFID can contribute to these processes. With the continual enhancements to read accuracy and the increasingly lower costs of RFID readers and tags, many warehouse and distribution networks are achieving substantial returns on their investments through reduction in labor and tighter control over their assets.

Managing a distribution network is a complex, yet core element to the success of many businesses.   Intermec Global Solutions increases the value of your initial investment and protects your future investments in devices throughout their entire lifecycle with our Total Customer Experience methodology. Our software, engagement and mobile device management services allow you to dedicate more time improving your warehouse key performance areas. We ensure your teams have the right device at the right time with the right applications to manage and grow your business.”

Ryzex and Intemec offer world-class solutions through a platinum-level partnership. Contact Ryzex today to help grow your Warehouse Operations.

How to choose the right media for your barcode printing

A tiny barcode can contain a wealth of information, from product pricing to patient identification. With the efficiency and accuracy of bar codes, the uses continue to grow, as do the media choices. In addition to labels—which come in an array of paper and synthetic materials, with different adhesives for different uses—bar code printers can output to tag and ticket stock, wristbands, polyester, polypropylene, and other synthetic materials. You can use white or colored media, giving you the option to color-code your bar coded items (allowing for enough contrast between the bar code’s bars and the background color so there is sufficient contrast to make the code readable.

You can also buy brand protection media with over and covert security features for authentication, counterfeit deterrence, and secure data code encoding. Media can be coated to resist extreme temperatures, moisture, harsh chemicals, UV exposure, and other hazards.

Environmental conditions and needs will vary from one warehouse to the next, so it’s important to understand what your media will and won’t do so you avoid any mishaps that can lead to costly problems.

Ryzex specializes in bar code printing solutions, from the hardware to the supplies and accessories. We understand the intricacies of choosing the right media, which is why we rely on Genuine Zebra supplies. Because you can’t afford to compromise on quality, we don’t either. Talk to us about conducting a free needs assessment so we can provide you with cost-saving options.

What do you need your bar code label media to do? Are you satisfied with the results? What challenges have you had to face with media in the past? Please post your thoughts, ideas, and solutions here so we can share them with others.

Calculate the ROI for mobile bar code printing in your warehouse

Are you getting the maximum return on investment for your warehouse’s bar code printer? You might benefit from adding mobility to this labeling task. By printing and applying labels at the point of application, you increase operational efficiency and reduce operator errors that occur when labeling in inconvenient locations.

A mobile bar code printer means less time spent traveling back and forth from the warehouse floor to the printing station to pick up labels. You will also remove potential distractions that could lead to wasted time and errors during this trek.

Consider this. If your warehouse holds $10 million worth of inventory and operates at 99 percent accuracy, you have $100,000 worth of missing inventory at any given time. Let’s assume you have 10 inventory turns annually. That one percent error is costing $1 million per year.

Now add in the cost to resolve those errors. At the standard error rate of 2.5 percent and an error cost of $100, a company loses $250 for every 100 orders processed. Operating five days per week, 52 weeks per year, your annual cost to fix the errors is $65,000. Improving your error rate by one percentage point would save your business $41,600 in error-related expenses every year.

Does it make sense to incorporate mobile bar code printing into your warehouse? In truth, it doesn’t make any sense not to!

See for yourself. Use this handy ROI calculator to enter your data.

Talk to a Ryzex representative about the mobile printing options available. We carry the wide range of printers and supplies from Zebra, the worldwide leader in bar code printing technology. Let us find the best solution for you.

Have you met the return on your investment with a mobile printer? Are you still thinking about incorporating the technology? Please post your thoughts, opinions, and experience here so others can learn from you as well

Can I print bar code labels on my laser printer?

When you have a laser printer sitting right there in your warehouse, it seems the logical choice to use it to print bar code labels as well. Why invest in a bar code printer when you have a perfectly good laser printer? The answer is in the technology. A laser printer does not have the native support for bar code symbologies in order to output clear, readable bar codes. You would have to upgrade your laser printer with additional fonts and/or programming that supports bar coding. Laser printers also lack many of the key features that a dedicated bar code printer provides:

  • Laser printers cannot produce single or small labels. A minimum of half a page of media is typically required for the printer to maintain control of the sheet. Unless the label is at least that size or multiple labels are needed at once, the remainder is wasted.
  • Laser printer label adhesives must be carefully selected to ensure stability under the heat and pressure of the fuser. Otherwise, the adhesive may seep onto the printer mechanism, where it will capture stray toner, or the adhesive may cause the labels to curl at the edges.
  • Because of the pressures used in the image transfer process, many laminated label materials are not compatible with laser printing. Those materials that are compatible may not always be available in the sheet form necessary for laser printing.
  • A laser-printed paper label has limited durability. For example, laser printers cannot produce chemical- or water-resistant labels and images.
  • Toner, drum, and supply costs can skyrocket when printing bar codes instead of typical text. While text printing requires only about five percent black toner, bar code needs can exceed 30 percent to ensure proper contrast between dark and light elements. Toner costs alone could be six times higher when printing bar codes rather than text.

You can squeeze 8 people into a compact car but that doesn’t make it a minivan. And a laser printer can print bar codes but it’s not the right vehicle for the job. Talk to us at Ryzex to learn more about the benefits of a dedicated bar code printer, like the wide variety designed and engineered by Zebra, the global leader in bar code printing solutions.

Have you ever used your laser printer to output bar codes? What was the result? Please share your experiences so others can benefit from your knowledge.

Thermal transfer or direct thermal: Which printer is best for your warehouse?

You have two choices of printing methods to produce bar code labels: thermal transfer and direct thermal. Each one has advantages so you need to understand the technology before you choose the printer that’s best for your warehouse operation.

Thermal transfer uses a printer ribbon that is heated (thermal) in the print process and then transfers ink from the ribbon to the label media. The images are long-lasting and can be output to a wide range of media choices (paper and synthetic). Thermal transfer is the printing method of choice for permanent labeling needs.

Direct thermal does not use a ribbon but imprints directly to the label media, which is specially coated for this method. The heat from the printhead reacts with that coating and burns the image to the label. Direct thermal labels are sensitive to heat and other conditions, and they will deteriorate so they are best suited for short-term applications, like shipping labels, picking/putaway labels, and receipts. Direct thermal media is more expensive than thermal transfer bar code labels, but the fact that you don’t have to purchase ribbons contributes to a lower cost of ownership.

Talk to us at Ryzex about your specific warehouse printing tasks and we can offer the solutions that best fit your needs, budget, and footprint. We have partnered with Zebra, the global leader in bar code printing technology, so we can offer a wide variety of options.

Which option did you choose: thermal transfer or direct thermal, and why? Has it lived up to your expectations? If you could make the choice all over again, would you pick the same printer? Please post your thoughts here!

3 things to know when choosing bar code label media

Before you load media into your bar code printer, be sure you’re using the right material for the job. Here are 3 things to keep in mind when choosing your bar code label media:

  1. Paper or synthetic. When producing bin, shipping, and product labels, paper thermal transfer labels are your best bet. But if your label is going to endure tough conditions—like exposure to heat, cold, abrasion, and chemicals—or must comply with UL or CSA standards, you need to use a synthetic material. Paper just won’t hold up. Synthetic media is specially designed to withstand challenging conditions. But there are still variations within synthetics so tell your supplier what your label needs to do.
  2. Adhesive. You have a variety of choices in adhesives for your bar code labels. Depending on the label, you could opt for temporary, no-residue, or semi-permanent. Using the wrong adhesive will not only compromise the quality of the label—shipping labels that fall off, for example—but also harm your printer. Some adhesives can ooze during the thermal (heat) transfer and damage the printhead, which is the most expensive part of your bar code printer!
  3. Size. Labels come in many sizes, and you can also get customized labels to fit your needs. Be sure to optimize your printer’s potential by using the maximum width possible. You will produce your labels faster and have less waste.

At Ryzex, we recommend Zebra labels. They produce premium print quality and are available in a wide range of media, sizes, and adhesives. When you invest in a quality printer, don’t compromise the output by using inferior labels. Talk to us about your labeling needs and we’ll make sure you get the best value.

Are your labels well matched to your needs? Are you experiencing smudging? What types of challenges have you had to deal with in order to find the right media? Please share your experiences here so others can benefit.

Protect your printhead!

The printhead is the most expensive component to replace on a bar code printer—ranging from about $400 to $800, depending on the model. So it makes sense to take preventive measures to protect this key part. When it’s damaged, you not only incur the repair expense, but you suffer downtime that cuts into your productivity, and wasted media from reprinting the labels that don’t output clearly. Here are a few tips to avoid unnecessary service calls and repair:

  • Clean the printhead every time you change the ribbon. Wipe it with a lint-free cloth and 90% isopropyl alcohol or use Genuine Zebra cleaning swabs. You should also keep a supply of Zebra Printhead Cleaning Kits on hand for a more thorough cleaning.
  • Use only approved media in your printer. The wrong adhesive can ooze and damage the printhead.
  • Wrap and store the printer ribbons and media in a clean area to avoid collecting debris that then transfers to your printer. Even the tiniest piece of dirt can scratch the glass etching on the printhead, and a busy warehouse poses a high risk for contaminants.
  • Keep your printer covered when not in use to keep out excess dirt and debris.
  • When cleaning the printhead, remove any jewelry that could scratch the glass on the printhead.

Protect your valuable investment with simple maintenance that will ensure your printer works when you need it! For information on printhead maintenance, cleaning supplies, and Ryzex’s preventive maintenance service, please contact us.

Have you ever experienced printhead problems? What was the cause? What are you doing differently to avoid those issues? Please share your experiences and any other tips for avoiding printhead failure.

How to choose the right bar code printer for your warehouse

Are you trying to decide on a bar code printer for your warehouse operation? Before you invest in new technology, consider your needs:

  • How many labels do you print per duty cycle? Be sure to choose a printer with the speed and output potential to match your needs. If you require a high volume of labels, faster output should be a consideration.
  • Do you operate 24/7? When a printer is running around the clock, it needs to be durable. Be sure your printer can keep up with the workload.
  • Do you need to print labels on demand? Having a mobile printer is valuable in many warehouse operations because it increases productivity when workers don’t have to return to a print station for batches.
  • How large of a footprint do you have for your printer? Space can be an issue. Bar code printers can be compact enough to fit on a desktop.
  • In what type of environment will your printer be running? Some bar code printers are more rugged than others. Before you buy your printer, be sure that it can stand up to the challenges in your warehouse.

These are the basic questions you should ask yourself when considering a bar code printer. At Ryzex, we specialize in the technology solutions for the warehousing industry, and we’ve teamed up with Zebra, the most innovative provider of bar code printers and supplies. Does your printer keep up with your needs? Let us know your challenges and we will help you find the printer that best fits your operation.

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