Warehouse RF networks can provide a wide range of benefits for third-party logistics providers and their customers needing distribution services or other outsourced logistics functions. These benefits can include:
- Improved accuracy and efficiency
- Reduced labor expense
- Enhanced real-time visibility to inventory
- Dramatic reductions in printed and/or hand-written paperwork within warehouse operations
In a warehouse RF network, four primary components are integrated into a cohesive system: (1) a modern warehouse management system (WMS), (2) wireless networking, (3) RF bar code scanners and (4) bar code labels on all storage locations throughout the warehouse and product bar codes for pallets, cases and even individual items.
Three types of RF bar code scanners are commonly used in distribution services warehouses:
- Handheld – This type of RF bar code scanner is battery powered and can include an LED display and keypad. It can be used by warehouse staff walking the warehouse floor or using a forklift or other vehicle
- Hands-Free – Worn on the waist or around the arm, this style of battery powered RF bar code scanner allows workers to perform tasks requiring the use of their hands such as order picking. Units designed to be strapped to an arm typically feature an LED display and keyboard.
- Vehicle-Mounted – Securely mounted to a vehicle, usually a lift truck, and hardwired into the vehicle’s electrical system, these RF bar code scanners are typically used by forklift operators moving pallets. While less susceptible to damage, vehicle-mounted units are not as versatile as handheld or hands-free scanners that can be used for a wider range of on-foot transactions, including picking, stocking pick areas, inventory/cycle counting, etc.
Different work teams may require different types of scanners. In addition, different features may be needed depending on the tasks being done and the work environment; i.e., use in direct sunlight versus indoor lighting, need for moisture resistance or anti-fogging displays, touch screens, ruggedized housings for improved shock resistance, chemical resistance, etc.
You may also want to read our previous blog/warehousing post on RF technology titled “What You Need to Know About RF Scanning for General Warehousing Applications” for an overview of RF, how it is used in warehouse operations such as receiving, put away, pick pack and ship, as well as cycle counting, and how it is typically rolled out in a 3PL warehouse environment.
FW Warehousing is headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri with Midwest warehouse distribution centers in Kansas City, Indianapolis and St. Louis totaling more than four million square feet. Founded in 1949 with a focus on food-grade storage, FW later broadened its services to include contract warehousing, dry storage, hazardous material and chemical storage, temperature-controlled storage, product distribution and B2B and B2C fulfillment.
FW Warehousing has more than 50 years of experience in third-party 3PL logistics and has been ranked in the top 100 Third Party Logistic Companies in the country by Inbound Logistics magazin
For more information about FW Warehousing, the distribution services provided and other 3PL capabilities, visit the FW Warehousing website.