These days, many warehouses are looking for ways to work more efficiently, more accurately, and get better visibility into all the assets, inventory or products that might be moving through distribution or manufacturing processes. Previously we've discussed how real-time locating systems such as Zebra's MotionWorks make this possible by being able to track raw food products, ingredients, chemicals, assets, and other materials in food and beverage production processes.
In this follow-up article, we'll explore how the same MotionWorks technology can be used in the warehouse, where the same real-time tracking and locating capabilities can deliver visible, actionable data to help streamline and optimize warehouse, shipping and distribution processes.
Let's start with a quick review of MotionWorks Warehouse, the technologies involved, and the big picture of what real-time locating systems can do for warehouses.
Zebra MotionWorks Warehouse is a technology solution that uses various combinations of software as well as RFID tags, Bluetooth beacons, sensors, and other hardware devices to track large volumes of both stationary and in-motion assets.
By identifying and tracking these assets, it can deliver a complete picture of operations in real time, and these data insights can be integrated into existing business systems. For example, MotionWorks Warehouse:
- Reveals real-time location of inventory, assets, and finished goods
- Enables directed workflows for increased productivity and reduced labor
- Enables automated transactions that minimize human labor and errors
- Helps prevent loss of goods and costly mis-shipments
- Increases predictability in operations
- Helps you improve processes over time with operational intelligence
- Creates an audit trail for security and quality control
- Helps you move goods based on priority and real-time needs
These benefits are among the many reasons why leading warehouses have been turning to Zebra's real-time locating technology to get an operational and competitive edge. Ultimately, there are many ways that MotionWorks can transform warehouses for the better, but here are three big areas where it often makes its biggest impact.
- Shipping Verification and Validation
One of the best uses for Zebra’s MotionWorks Warehouse is to generate a real-time, digitized manifest that immediately verifies receipt and shipment of assets, and simultaneously highlights discrepancies from the system of record.
By being able to locate and track finished goods or other assets you need to ship in real time, you can:
- Tracking Finished Goods
A common use case for motion tracking technologies in manufacturing is tracking finished goods. For example, using RFID tags and systems to track finished goods in motion and at rest, you can use the resulting intelligence to know the real-time status and location of goods, minimize time, and steps in key processes, and more accurately manage production and inventory.
For example, with Zebra’s MotionWorks hardware and software, you can:
- Streamlining Processes and Workflow Optimization
Another improvement that MotionWorks Warehouse unlocks for many warehouses is the ability to use directed instructions to streamline worker activity, optimize workflows, and processes for increased productivity and efficiency.
By being able to track and locate materials, assets, inventory, and finished goods in real time, when they’re on the move or stored in your warehouse, you can leverage this data to trigger required work with directed instructions at each stage or in each process.
For example, you can:
Components of a Typical MotionWorks Warehouse Solution
With all of these exciting possibilities, it's no surprise that many warehouses around the world, including some of our AbeTech clients, have been delving into MotionWorks, and taking steps to implement real-time locating technologies in their operations.
Typically, a solution deployment involves several main components. First there's Zebra's MotionWorks Warehouse software, which includes automated scanning and RFID/sensor reading, asset identification and association, location data aggregation, and an API for systems integration and reporting.
There's also a business application, which provides a visibility dashboard, facility manager dashboard, electronic manifest, monitoring, and solution configuration management.
But the real heart of MotionWorks is the sensing hardware that captures asset data from the edge of your operations and delivers it to the software and business application. Typically, this hardware includes Zebra advanced passive RFID tags, ultra-wideband RFID tags for real-time locating, and Zebra phased array readers to read tags when they come within range or pass by the readers.
However, the exact hardware configuration can vary depending on your business needs, your environment, and the types of assets you need to locate and track. AMotionWorks integrates seamlessly with other third-party technologies, so you can build out a solution that works with all the sensors and data capture hardware you may need to use, as well as with third-party software such as warehouse management systems or enterprise resource planning systems.
The good news is that it's also relatively easy to assess your warehouse's fitness for MotionWorks, determine if it's a viable technology for your needs, and then to build out and deploy a complete solution.
Our technology experts at AbeTech can help you get started with a complete discovery and assessment process, and Zebra offers a number of great services to assist you along the way, including solution jumpstart, validation, workflow design and consulting, integration, and ongoing support.
If you'd like to know more about MotionWorks Warehouse and real-time locating systems, and you'd like to explore things further, contact us now to arrange a discovery call and assessment at your convenience.