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Poor connectivity in the warehouse – the trickle-down effect

You know that moment when your cell phone loses connection and your call is dropped? You were midsentence, explaining something and the line goes dead. You have to wait until you’re back in range, call the number, start your story from the beginning and what happens? You’ve lost your flow.

Lost flow in the warehouse

Warehouses with poor connectivity suffer a similar problem. A forklift driver depends on constant access to vital information about where to go and what to pick. As they drive around the warehouse, they move out of range of access points or a handshake from one point to another fails, and their device hangs. All of a sudden, they have to stop what they’re doing, reconnect their device and restart the process. They’ve lost their flow.

Connectivity provides the backbone to a modern warehouse. It enables staff to connect to business-critical systems in real-time to move items to where they need to be without delay. Bad connectivity interrupts this seamless flow of goods in and deliverables out, causing frustration, a loss in productivity and ultimately, hitting the bottom line.

Connectivity problems and productivity

For employees on the warehouse floor, bad connectivity means they have to constantly login to systems and in an age when security is paramount, this often means multiple levels of authentication. Each login takes time, delaying the driver getting back to their work.

Then when their devices lose connection, the system thinks – oh this task hasn’t been completed, I’ll reassign it and somebody else starts completing the order. When the original device comes back online the same task comes up and hey presto, you get one order filled twice.

And it’s not just about replication of tasks and a break in the flow of goods. Warehouse staff are often compensated based on performance, these delays seriously slow them down, impacts their wages and brings frustration. Who do they turn to? Well the warehouse manager of course.

Impacts felt across the business 
And the warehouse manager has their own targets to meet. So not only do they have to deal with the frustration of their warehousing staff, they also have to answer to management. Operations see a decline in goods out, finance notices a drop in figures, and overtime, the Executive team sees overall profitability decrease.

IT is also in the firing line as they look after the wireless network and the devices that connect to it. They hear from all sides of the business that the system is not performing and are put under pressure to fix it quickly.

Then there’s the customer who expects their order to be delivered on time. And in today’s world of instant gratification, loyalty’s been chucked out of the window. If their deliveries arrive late time after time, customers will move their business elsewhere without even batting an eyelid.

The effects keep trickling-down

But that’s not all. Poor connectivity can have a trickle-down effect that impacts a business in some not-so-obvious ways.

For example, if a warehouse continually experiences delays and has queues of trucks waiting to drop off or pick up goods, you can bet that the transport company will be quick to notice that their productivity is down. And how do they respond? Well they put their prices up accordingly. The warehouse then has to pass these costs on to someone, with the consumer being the most likely choice.

So, the effects of poor connectivity go further than just devices losing data. But preventing poor connectivity isn’t rocket science. You need two things – a reliable wireless network and quality devices to connect to it.

Recognize this? Contact us to learn more about connectivity in the warehouse, and how to avoid problems like these.

Chad Woodyatt

Chad Woodyatt

Business Development Manager Northwest and Ports

November 28, 2019

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