The benefits to an RF warehouse are rarely disputed, but the “how” of implementing RF always seems to stir up conversation. Here we’ll share a few of our customer examples of success, as well as six ways to get more out of your RF project.
The benefits of shifting from a traditional, paper warehouse to a wireless, RF (radio frequency) warehouse are rarely disputed. It can substantially improve your receiving and picking efficiencies, reduce inventory shrinkage, and increase customer satisfaction.
When we helped C&L Supply convert to RF it increased their correct up-rate by 90% for one large customer. The operations manager remarked, “We can walk straight to the location to find product and know that it’s there. The time that our warehouse people spend looking for items is drastically improved.”
Dulles Electric told us “The ability to track orders accurately, meet customer demands, and control carrying cost is critical. Eclipse RF helps us do this.”
Yet some distributors still avoid the conversion to RF, or put it off. Certainly finances come into play; but, the return is usually quick and apparent. As such, we think that fear of change, as well as uncertainty about the “how,” plays a large role.
Having implemented RF for several distributors, Zerion has perfected a rapid implementation strategy that works. If you’re thinking about transitioning to a paperless warehouse, here are six ways you can be more successful based on our experience.
Do it all, do it once. Doing an RF installation one process at a time (such as first converting to RF Receiving and then at a later date converting to RF picking) doesn’t give you the full bang for your buck. To get the best ROI, you need to implement picking, receiving and cycle counting at the same time. When you spread it out, you’re losing value, and wasting time and resources on multiple implementation efforts.
Be open to change. Yes, RF is a big change, especially for people who have been doing the same thing for a long time. But, that doesn’t mean you should try to keep your old processes in place, particularly with receiving. Change is what’s going to bring about improvements, new efficiencies and cost savings. Again, C&L is a great model for adjusting to change. When an experienced implementation team effectively leads change efforts, it can make a big difference in your warehouse staff.
Be firm. If one or two (or more) members of your team are still resistant to change, it can be toxic to the rest of the organization. Don’t let negativity de-rail you. Keep focused on the project goals and surge ahead. Motivate skeptical employees to buy into the company's strategy. Ensure they are rewarded with results!
Think big picture. RF will improve consistency and efficiency, but it does so on a macro level. You can’t expect that each individual worker will do their job faster. The accountant won't process more invoices because you have RF scan guns on the warehouse floor. The time the RF scan guns saved adds up over time, however, compounding on the number of orders the warehouse floor staff can process. This moves the entire business forward.
Be prepared. An RF project has a lot of moving parts and tasks that need to be completed. While a qualified RF consultant and project manager will lead you through this with ease, you need to be prepared to do your part. For example, don’t depend on Receiving to build UPC’s and locations at go live. This is work you’ll need to do in advance of the implementation.
Maximize resources. Once RF is implemented, you may find that the workload needs some re-distributing. Receiving may now need one employee instead of two, or new processes may require different job responsibilities. Seize the opportunity to get your team situated in the way that is most effective for the organization.
If you decide to pursue RF, let us know! We’d love the opportunity to share with you how we can help.
Tony King is the owner of Zerion Group whose roles include sales, consulting and management of a team of 12 consultants who work directly with customers to help them achieve their business goals.