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Whether you’re a factory or warehouse manager, you’ve probably contemplated how to streamline operations within your logistics network. A large part of this comes down to the communication system you have in place.

Despite the growing prevalence of warehouses, many of the communication strategies within these facilities are outdated, relying primarily on clipboards and paper trails. By automating supply chain processes through the use of contemporary technology, logistics networks could see increased productivity, quicker output, and more efficient auditing.

Portable Devices

Warehouse workers are always moving, making it absolutely essential that they be reachable. As such, portable devices are extremely handy for this type of work. They provide a direct line of communication, allowing more instantaneous results.

Mobile Phones

Providing workers with smartphones can change the way warehouses operate entirely. However, there are questions regarding how implementation of these devices for day-to-day operations could pose a distraction.

One solution is for warehouses and factories to custom configure smartphones with certain functionalities, making them less of a distraction for non-work related use.

The primary advantage to smartphones in the warehouse is they allow communication through multiple mediums, including video, text, and voice calls. Nonetheless, they still may not be the most ideal solution.

Two-Way Radios

Two-way radios are perhaps the most efficient portable device you can equip warehouse and factory workers with. For starters, they allow a more immediate connection to the recipient. They also contain fewer distractions and don’t rely on a cellular network, making reachability more feasible.

Furthermore, most two-way radios are equipped with essential safety features, such as:

  • Lone Worker: This emits a reminder when a worker hasn’t interacted with their radio in a while. If they fail to respond to the reminder, it sends a signal across the channel.
  • Man Down: The radio senses when it is in a horizontal position, suggesting that the worker has collapsed.
  • Emergency Alert Button: With the push of a button, it sends an alarm across the channel indicating there is an emergency situation.

These devices also make it easier reach a group of workers without having to make announcements over a PA system. You can dispatch tasks more efficiently and receive instantaneous feedback on their progress. Considering the controversy many warehouses face for bouncing their employees around from opposite ends of the facility, two-way radios make it easier for supervisors to track down employees that are already near the site of the task.

Tablets

While paper trails are important, there’s no doubt that tablets can make keeping track of inventory and output far easier. For starters, they provide an all-in-one method for communicating and keeping a checklist.

They also provide employees with easy access to a cloud-based point-of-sale (POS) system, which is an essential tool all on its own.

Cloud-Based POS Systems

When it comes to auditing stock or keeping track of distribution, a cloud-based POS system can be incredibly handy. This kind of software allows all employees to access the same data with different permissions and their own individual logins.

Not only does this solve the problem of accountability, but it ensures nobody’s work performance suffers from a lack of data accessibility.

Custom cloud-based platforms can also be built with the help of a developer for warehouses or factories that function on a different supply chain methodology. Fortunately, however, even the most standard cloud-based software can provide sales data, inventory data, and a distribution calendar.

Wearables

Smart watches and similar wearable devices are undoubtedly the future of convenient communication. However, their benefit is not just in their ease of portability, it’s in their features. Wearables devices like smart watches can be integrated with other devices that workers may not have on them at all times (like tablets), particularly when they’re performing a laborious task.

They also contain GPS functionalities, which can be essential for supervisors looking to locate workers within a specific sector of the warehouse, in order to know which task is best assigned to them. Most factory workers and warehouse workers find that the majority of their fatigue comes from bouncing between tasks located on opposite sides of the 50,000+ square foot warehouses they work in.

A frequent complaint among Amazon workers is that they walk 13 miles a day throughout the warehouse picking up packages from different areas. When supervisors and managers have access to the precise location of their employees within their warehouse, they can ensure they assign them a task closer to their physical location, thus preserving their workers’ energy.