Streamlining Warehouse Operations with Mobile Devices

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In 2009, as Infinite Peripherals, Inc. (IPC) entered the mobile POS industry with its Linea Pro® (the first-to-market iOS peripheral), the company began experiencing significant growth and business opportunities. With increasing adoption of mPOS over the years, IPC rapidly expanded, outgrowing its warehouse and internal data systems to manage increasing inventory and order flow.

After six years in its former offices in Arlington Heights, Ill., IPC moved in December 2013 to a new corporate headquarters in Elk Grove Village, Ill. At 25,000 square feet, the new office and warehouse are triple the company’s former space, and are located in an industrial park minutes from O’Hare International Airport, through which most of the company’s products are shipped, as well as easily accessible from downtown Chicago.

Built from raw space and designed by NELSON Chicago, the new offices feature a sleek, forward-thinking look that recently earned a RED Award from the Illinois Chapter of the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) for exemplary design.

Opportunity to Mobilize

The larger warehouse and corresponding surge in market demand presented an ideal opportunity for IPC to put its own devices, including the Linea Pro and Infinea Tab M™, to work to manage the business and streamline operations. The Linea Pro and Infinea Tab M, which both include a barcode scanner and magnetic stripe reader, attach to an iPod touch® and iPad® mini, respectively, and run on custom software to perform a variety of tasks. infinite-peripherals2

Previously, the warehouse used a manual, paper-based system, which not only was time-consuming but also subject to occasional human error. Knowing the power and capabilities of its own products, IPC chose to eliminate this system entirely in favor of electronically gathering and recording data via the iPod touch and Linea Pro or the iPad mini and Infinea Tab M.

To make this happen, IPC partnered with xkzero, a software developer who already was using IPC devices with ERP business management software for data collection for its own customers. The software group shadowed IPC warehouse employees to experience firsthand and understand the typical work process, business needs and potential snags. xkzero then built a software framework that included the Apple® devices and IPC peripherals, incorporating a step-by-step replacement of what IPC warehouse staff formerly was doing manually.

With the paper-based system, employees facing special cases communicated via written notes, which were shared back and forth to keep operations moving. xkzero had to determine a way to incorporate this communications tool within the software to facilitate efficient workflow. Now, the notes are electronic and stay with the product throughout the entire process so that they are easily and quickly found, read and managed.

Due to the intuitive, user-friendly nature of the iPod touch and the iPad, along with the step-by-step software, training on the new system was remarkably rapid, only taking about two hours to familiarize the six-person IPC team with the automated, electronic process.

From start to deployment, it took xkzero approximately seven months to build the software infrastructure to communicate with the iOS device; and once the framework was set, implementation only lasted about two months.

Win-Win

Today, IPC handles inventory receipt, organization and picking; labeling (using the company’s DPP-450 mobile printer) and shipping; serial number tracking; and quality control with its new mobile platform. Currently, five IPC devices are used in the warehouse, including a new IPC product that is undergoing testing prior to launch.

Upon eliminating paper in the warehouse, the company had to determine a new way to identify boxes and shipping containers before they were labeled. In the past, staff would attach a picking list to boxes so that they knew their location. The team now uses its own mobile printer to create labels with a barcode; these labels are affixed to the boxes and can be easily scanned to identify contents and order details.

The mobile solution in the IPC warehouse enables the company to ship between 2,000 to 5,000 devices each week. Currently, there are approximately 400,000 IPC devices on the market, primarily in the retail, restaurant and hospitality sectors.

Infinite-peripherals3Using its own devices, IPC has benefitted from a 25 percent increase in productivity in the warehouse, along with reduced employee errors and significant time and cost savings.

With the advancement in technology and the rapid pace of business, opportunities for mobility have never been greater. It’s important to prioritize projects like this and develop a smart system now to be best prepared to be competitive in the future.

By Andrew Graham, President & Co-Founder, Infinite Peripherals, Inc.

About Infinite Peripherals, Inc.

Since 1993, Infinite Peripherals, Inc. (IPC) has been fueling mobility with cutting-edge mobile peripheral devices, receipt printers, mechanisms and receipt printer-related components. Numerous major retailers in the United States are moving to mobile POS with IPC’s Linea Pro® and Infinea Tab®, helping to transform shopping, drive traffic and increase customer conversion rates. Anticipating trends and pre-empting solutions for a constantly evolving business landscape, IPC enhances operations in retail and other industries, including healthcare, hospitality, transportation, warehouse and logistics, entertainment and security. For more information, please visit www.ipcprint.com.

 

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