Can your supply chain take the heat (and the cold)?

A long time ago, deep in the mists of time, I worked in a supply chain warehouse for a major grocery chain. I was young, the pay was consistent, my coworkers and managers were all very laid back and friendly. Most importantly to someone in their early twenties, I could spend most of my shift with headphones on, rocking out to some music as I worked.

You’d be surprised how many orders you can fill while listening to a single Led Zeppelin album.

One thing that always bugged me about both my CD player and the handheld computer that I scanned inventory with was that they could not handle the cold. Like, not at all. If I had to fill an order that needed lots of meats and cheeses? Into the freezer I would go and when I came out, I would spend 10 minutes just standing around waiting for the condensation to clear from the handheld’s screen. Sometimes I’d have enough orders to fill in the cooler that it would drain the batteries in the handheld because they weren’t designed to operate in such cold temperatures, which meant that I was going to have to trek back to the front of the warehouse (a good half mile, but some shifts it felt like a lot more) and get a new battery pack.

At the time, I didn’t really give it too much thought beyond “Well, this is annoying.”, but now I look back on all that time spent just getting my scanner to work and think “My employer was wasting so much money by having those crappy handheld scanners that weren’t designed to be used in a cold environment!”

Today, AbeTech would have made them aware of handheld computers like the Honeywell Tecton Cold Storage, I bet they would have made them a big part of the job in a second. The heated screen and low-temp-operation batteries would have completely taken care of all the time spent waiting for condensation and battery swaps, not to mention saving me the trouble of freezing fingers by having a keyboard that was too small for gloved hands. It would have meant that I could focus on fulfilling those orders, getting the products to the clients, and working on my sweet air guitar rendition of “Stairway to Heaven!” Can your supply chain take the heat (and the cold)?

Have you noticed ways in which your business could save money by using the right tool for the job? How did you call attention to it?

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