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How Well Does Your Warehouse Work?

A new survey exploring the connection between workplace wellbeing and productivity appeared last week in my newsfeed. The company commissioning the study was a lighting company keen to establish if there’s a link between good, modern lighting and the health, alertness and productivity of warehouse staff.

Its findings won’t be known until Spring but one thing we do know for sure about this sector is that workforce turnover is far higher than average so anything that helps keep staff engaged and fulfilled has to be welcomed.

Retaining staff, especially a younger workforce, is a real challenge when jobs like picking can be repetitive. One way to make it more appealing is by equipping staff with technology that they’re familiar with, the sort they use in the home. Of course, I’m talking here about Android.

Its familiar interface is fast and easy to use and workers can get up to speed in hours as opposed to days. New Android touchscreen devices can help operations work at full speed, by capturing multiple barcodes in one scan. And their camera technology can help record the condition of returns, or put augmented reality within reach.

Mobile Android devices like those from Zebra are rugged, and include features like hot swap batteries and fast charging that enable workers to maintain productivity. And let’s not forget the more pressing reason to migrate to Android; Microsoft is ending its Windows support from 2020.

Digitising the supply chain to make it more accurate, more productive and more cost effective seems logical to me yet we know from studies* that 55% of organisations still use pen and paper to manage omnichannel logistics.  

Now while that may be fine for native workers it’s not so good for the migrants that make up nearly a quarter of warehouse operatives. Understanding the language and what’s written down can not only affect productivity but also add to employee stress and churn. Adopting voice recognition devices can help, especially multilingual ones, as they can complement face to face training as well enable workers to pick orders in their native tongue.

Back in 2015, Honeywell and YouGov claimed that by 2020, nine in ten distribution centre operators across France, Germany, the UK and US expected to adopt new mobile devices and voice direction technology. It was seen that this technology would enhance occupational safety and wellbeing in warehouses.

Now, I’ve got no figures on adoption rates but reckon we’re a long way off those numbers. Indeed I was quite depressed to read† that while half of organisations consider supply chain digitisation to be one of their top three priorities, most are still struggling to get projects beyond the test stage (86%).

And further research* would seem to echo this. Supply chain executives might have highlighted the key technology disruptors but are taking a wait and see approach when it comes to actually investing. Next-gen technologies are being implemented more as tests to determine their ROI rather than full scale roll-out. 

And while this is understandable, legacy mobile operating systems and green screen applications were developed before ecommerce existed. They just cannot handle today’s order volumes, delivery times or security threats. Sitting back is not an option, for either the sustainability of the company or the staff it employs.

Renovotec is the UK’s fastest growing provider of rugged mobile hardware; as well as delivering end to end managed & consultancy services, wireless networking, enterprise mobility, mobile data capture, printing and hardware rentals solutions. With over 25 years of industry experience, Renovotec supports customers across multiple industry verticals – including warehousing, transport & logistics, manufacturing and field mobility. For more information visit or call 01924 600480


* Source: The future of fulfilment vision study by Zebra
† Source: The digital supply chain’s missing link, Capgemini Research Institute
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"We needed reliable, robust hardware at keen prices, which Renovotec was able to provide" says Accolade Wines’ Senior Inventory Manager. "We had a good look at other companies but this was the one we thought was best."

"Our analysis shows a significant increase in both the items and tonnage picked per hour" says Henry Colbeck’s Financial Director. A snapshot voice performance sample revealed that the tonnage per hour was 29% higher.

"The VM3 rugged devices enable our drivers to be productive from the minute they sit in the Straddle Carrier cab. The touch screen provides ease of use for the driver and the VM3 connectivity options allows our GPS and PLC Systems to be fully integrated. This gives full operational and engineering visibility. Couple that with Solid State Disks means that the unit is very robust for the port environment." Stated Systems Manager, DP World Southampton.

"We now have robust, secure and reliable narrowband network coverage across our site. We’ve also deployed Zebra’s XT15 rugged mobile and Zebra VH10 vehicle-mounted computers that are designed to cope with our industrial environment and connect to both our narrowband and Wi-Fi networks. Add to this the assurance of service and support from Renovotec and we have the trusted platform our teams need to continually connect to our ERP application." Stated MIS manager, the Port of Tilbury

"Renovotec were able to provide the best support and repair package, and match the competition on price," said IMT Managing Director. "We feel very happy having them as a partner in the growth of our business. "This combination of performance and reliability is already creating clear benefits to IMT and its network of clinics"

"Massive thanks to you and your company for resolving our technical issues. Excellent, professional service provided with literally no notice at all. I wish I came to you guys originally, and certainly will going forwards" stated Melrose Textile Co’s Operations Manager

"Can I just firstly say that your Field Technician did a fantastic job on Tuesday. We had got the wearables to a point of configuration but there was still a quite a bit of work to do and ultimately your field technician was invaluable to us on the day sorting these issues out" stated Portwest’s Shift Manager