Productivity is defined as “the efficiency and quality of production of goods or services” in transport and logistics this could mean ton-miles per vehicle or daily deliveries per driver. Some barriers to productivity include distraction and interruptions, lack of information, ineffective communication, insufficient training, inadequate tools and equipment, stress and too much to do.
Conker, which provides a range of rugged, wearable and scannable devices for mobile workforces, offers its top tips on productivity for transport and logistics managers.
Tash Sievwright, transport and logistics business development executive at Conker, comments: “An efficient operation is critical for client satisfaction because it helps to ensure quick and accurate delivery of orders, increasing brand loyalty.”
Investing in equipment
An obvious starting point, the quality and competence of service is reflected in the quality of the vehicle fleet. Investing in the latest technologies such as migrating fleets to cleaner and lower cost electric vehicles with mounts and belt holders for in-cab handheld devices and tablets can result in gaining competitive advantage as well as easing service requirements and may help to retain staff.
As transport and logistic companies rely heavily on fast turnarounds and quick-service delivery – automating the material handling, packaging and loading processes will help get the vehicle on the road faster. For example, rugged mobile devices which can scan and feed directly into the back-end stock management systems streamline and deliver efficiencies.
Adopting technology to improve productivity
Communication is a critical element of keeping transport and logistic businesses running smoothly. An inefficient, or disparate systems, can result in costly supply chain disruption.
The need for accuracy in identifying, handling, and processing packages is extremely important and one of the solutions to these issues is in wearables.
Adopting technology that can handle business demands and will ultimately help in improving productivity.
Using barcode or radio frequency identification (RFID) readers can improve the accuracy of transactions and reduce picking errors. Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS) research conducted at the University of Arkansas shows that using RFID increased inventory accuracy by 27 per cent in just 13 weeks.
Wearable scanners, designed to keep workers’ hands-free, can reduce each scanning action by a further five seconds – boosting efficiency and productivity even more.
When introducing wearables (or any device) it is vital to ensure that it neatly fits to the IT architecture stack for the business. The operator can then ensure items have been selected correctly by using a glove and PDA combination, and that back-end systems can monitor order fulfilment in real-time through the smooth flow of data.
Devices that are “just tough” no longer meet the needs of many fast-paced hard-working environments. Buyers expect rugged device manufacturers to have considered operating systems, types of viewing screens, battery life, data security devices’ communications capabilities and ease of use.
But how do you know how tough, tough is? Rugged devices are a type of hardware designed specifically to tolerate the harshest environments. From extreme temperatures to dusty environments, wet conditions and then back into the office. They can tolerate a range of hazards including exposure to fluids and extreme vibrations. Touch screens can be operated with gloves on and as the battery life is designed to last an entire shift – rugged devices are built to last. These attributes can positively impact costs in downtime and time and cost to replace devices that are not durable enough. All Conker devices are drop tested typically to 1.2m and for peace of mind have the durability rating of IP65.
Improving workflows and productivity
Increased speed and accuracy of working may be obvious. Other benefits of rugged wearables include the improvement of productivity as workers can scan items without interrupting workflow. Compared to traditional scanners and other mobile devices wearable devices are less likely to get damaged or dropped, resulting in lower equipment replacement costs over time. The ergonomic design of wearable scanners makes them feel natural to use in day-to-day operations. When a backhand scanner is used in conjunction with a glove, workers benefit from having a full range of hand and digit movement. Running on familiar operating systems (android and windows) to which familiar business apps can also be added helps with a reduction in the need for training and easier adoption.
The new era of smarter operations
James Summers, CEO at Conker, added: “The products surfacing during this new era of smarter operations are further supported by automation and real-time connectivity with other departments. The results include increased productivity, reduced resources, and speed of response to customers’ orders resulting in improved bottom lines.
“It is vital that transport and logistics managers ensure good usability testing on all tablets, handheld and wearable devices, because good usability will help to support a happy workforce. They also shouldn’t be afraid to demand upfront user testing before committing to new devices in the IT stack.”