Wireless Warehouse Automation

Dec. 21, 2004
What one user learned.

The scene is Baldor Electric Co., a manufacturer of electric motors headquartered in Fort Smith, Ark. About 14 months ago Jeff Hines, software applications manager, information services, began a wireless project to automate data collection at the company's 35 finished goods inventory locations. Using wireless-enabled barcode technology from Intermec Technologies Corp., warehouse personnel now update Baldor's SAP-based enterprise system in real time. Inventory receipts and issues and shipping transactions are automated via barcode scanning. The automation also eliminates back-office involvement and speeds warehouse audits. Hines says audits at Baldor's largest warehouse take two hours instead of two days. His recommendations for implementing a wireless strategy follow:

  • Think big. Leverage the technology into as many processes as possible.
  • Update enterprise system in real time from the wireless device.
  • Develop your own wireless transactions that fit your business.
  • Listen to the people who will use the wireless devices. Involve them in the system design early.
  • Use wireless to replace any process that requires writing things down.
  • Use your own IT people. Train them and let them develop wireless transactions that fit your business.
  • Don't tie your wireless system to a batch input process requiring time-deferred file transfers.
  • Don't farm out the work to outsiders who don't know your business.
  • Don't skimp on hardware. Get industrial-strength equipment from a manufacturer that can support you.

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