Focus, Manufacturing, and Technology

App enhances warehousing

Users find new tool saves time and money.

December 8, 2012
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App enhances warehousing
The mobile app's visual-mapping system allows personnel to monitor operations in real-time. Courtesy of Dematic
A new software application for managing warehouses is already revolutionizing how one global parts distributer is doing business.

The team at Dematic, a material and logistics supplier for factories and warehouses, has developed the Dematic Mobile Monitor, which allows for mobile and tablet distribution operations.

The application uses an operational, interactive, visual-mapping system that allows manufacturing personnel to monitor facility operations in real time.

This bird’s-eye layout provides visibility and data-driven access to a warehouse, said Robert Nilsson, Dematic’s vice president of software and supply chain intelligence.

“It’s something we’ve been working on as part of our platform for today’s user experience,” he said. “Video monitors can be tied in and connected through web cameras, providing documentation. It’s configurable to a number of devices.”

The key to the application is its data-driven nature that fuels an easy-to-use dashboard, Nilsson said, making a warehouse digitally come to life. Dematic prefers to use Excel-based databases, he said, but since clients sometimes have different types of technology, Dematic plans to adapt the app to whatever program or system customers use.

Mobile is now driving analytics, Nilsson said, and it’s here to stay, especially for the upcoming tech-savvy generation.

Cheryl Falk, Dematic’s vice president of marketing communications, echoed his words, saying from her experience, inventory-tracking software could prevent a number of time-consuming mistakes that keep the line from moving efficiently.

“The idea of doing something in a warehouse and then waiting to record it in the office is where most mistakes happen,” she said. “I saw anytime there was a mistake, it actually happened in the field before it happened in record. To have the same people doing the same physical management actually have a collection of that management is the best idea.”

Bill Roelfsema, a Notions Marketing Corp. assistant warehouse manager in Grand Rapids, has been using the Dematic Mobile Monitor for a couple of months now. As a hands-on user, Roelfsema works closely with Dematic, using his personal experience with the system to advise Dematic support as adjustments and updates are continually made to the app.

So far, he’s had good feedback for them about his new toy.

“What it has done is it’s helped us complete orders faster,” he said. “If they can’t find them, and if the line goes down in maintenance, it tells us where the problem in the line is. I also have inventory when I’m out in the zone.”

He estimates the app saves him at least an extra hour doing check-up laps around the building each night. Roelfsema works the swing shift without a maintenance crew and often finds himself “wearing all the hats at night.”

Being a proud user of the new tool is the hat he never wants to take off. “It’s a mobile office for me. It has all my information on the warehouse. I take it with me everywhere in the building,” he said. “It allows supervisors to spend more time working with your employers to improve productivity versus sitting at a desk and going over reports. You can make a difference in performance.”

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