Third party logistics, warehousing and distribution businesses continue to evolve and advance with the addition of exceptional new technologies. In recent years, wearable devices have provided these businesses with operational improvement, increased flexibility and significant cost savings.

Wearable devices are compact and lightweight computers and/or scanners that can be worn directly on the body of warehouse staff. With a multitude of device manufacturers in the market, warehouse operators now have their pick of devices designed to fit their specific size, configuration and function requirements. Of the devices available today 3Pls, warehouses and distributors most frequently utilize wrist and ring scanners, voice-directed headsets and in some cases “smart” glasses. Traditional ruggedized durable devices from industry leading manufacturers such as Zebra Technologies have become the top choice of many CTOs and IT managers.

Because repetitive processes such as picking, put away and general order fulfillment accounts for nearly 70% of operating costs this is an area of focus for many device manufacturers. Devices are designed to optimize these processes, reducing labor costs for high volume supply chain businesses. These devices also help to improve workforce productivity, safety and efficiency with their hands-free operation.

By working hands-free, warehouse staff can focus more closely on the task at hand with a wider range of motion. This helps to increase employee effectiveness and facilitates timelier task completion. Wearable devices also help to reduce “touchpoints” or the number of steps required to complete a task. By simplifying processes, warehouse staff can complete more tasks in less time – a desirable outcome for high volume order processing. Both labor and device TCO savings can be recognized with the adoption of ruggedized wearables through process optimization and durable construction. Replacing manual, paper-based processes with wearable devices also helps to reduce data entry and inventory processing errors. Warehouse staff can also expect a safer and more comfortable experience when using wearables. They are designed with superior ergonomics, making them easy to handle and operate. And with the superior accessory packages and device configurability supply chain operations will see more device and operational flexibility.

If your 3PL, warehousing or distribution operation could benefit from process optimization and cost reductions, wearable device implementation is a good first step. With 70% of operating costs hanging in the balance, it is a consideration worth making.

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