Meeting COVID-19 and future challenges in your distribution centre

Johannesburg, 16 Sep 2020
Read time 3min 00sec

The global health crisis has had a major impact within the distribution centre environments that have been providing the lifeline to retailers, manufacturers and end-users alike. As restrictions on business begin to lift, distribution centres are evaluating and implementing technology solutions designed to address and manage social distancing and new cleaning procedures advised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other regulatory bodies.

A recent paper from Harvard University researchers states that “prolonged or intermittent social distancing may be necessary into 2022”. In addition, the “next normal” may include an array of strategies that change typical working conditions for employees inside the warehouse.*

These solutions need to ensure productivity is maintained, allowing for efficient and accurate workflows for order picking, fulfilment, shelf replenishment, dispatch, cold storage environments and other tasks as distribution centres look to deliver a re-imagined experience. At the same time, DC and supply chain managers are realising that they need to build a smarter and more agile and flexible operation due to the rapid changing requirements of their customers.

Bidvest Mobility, a leading provider of enterprise mobile computing and bar coding technologies, has responded to the challenges the supply chain faces and has developed solutions with technology partner, Honeywell, for faster, smarter and more effective work to be done throughout the supply chain and specifically within the DC.

Within the DC environment, new communication strategies are being explored with the introduction of Honeywell Smart Talk, a unified communications software solution that can be added to Honeywell mobile computers. This means all employees using mobile devices are always connected, without the need for team meetings, hereby helping to maintain social distancing guidelines.

Simon Grisdale, Managing Executive at Bidvest Mobility, said it’s important to ensure that DCs have the right mobile computing and bar coding solutions in the supply chain. “This can range from bar code label and mobile printers, mobile computers and bar code scanners to enterprise mobility software – all designed to optimise agility in their DC or warehouse and enhance accurate workflows for all tasks,” he added.

Grisdale commented that support for DCs, as the central hub of the supply chain, has been key during this period, particularly with social distancing protocols and less site visits. “Our call centre has geared up to troubleshoot all our customers’ mobile computing challenges using our remote cloud-based MDM (Mobile Device Management) software tools, enabling contactless IT support, while enforcing social distancing protocols to ensure mission-critical mobile solutions are always up and running. This facility is backed by our national repair centre, certified to fix mobile devices to OEM standards,” he added.

“Going forward,” Grisdale advised, “DC and supply chain managers need to ensure that their operations are agile, flexible and that effective real-time traceability is in place in order to change gear rapidly, fulfil service level agreements, respond to any crisis, and to provide up-to-the-minute reporting on stock levels, activities and COVID-19 related information. Mobile computing and bar coding technology and systems are all available to support the supply chain to meet these challenges in a changing world.”

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Editorial contacts
P and P Communications Trish Pichulik (083) 378 2903
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