February 17, 2017

Honeywell launches retail e-commerce fulfillment tools

Dimensioning scanner and voice-directed headset help retailers handle omnichannel demands, company says.

By Ben Ames

Honeywell International Inc. today rolled out a package-dimensioning scanner and a voice-directed mobile headset device in moves that continue the industrial giant's push into retail and supply chain operations.

Honeywell launched a dimensioning tool called the AutoCube 8200 Fixed Dimensioning System that uses the company's optical imaging technology to quickly calculate the three-dimensional measurements of a package in a parcel pickup location, the company said.

The AutoCube is intended to help shippers find the most cost-effective solution for so-called dimensional weight calculations made by Atlanta-based UPS Inc. and Memphis-based FedEx Corp. to set rates, Honeywell said. Under dimensional pricing, rates are determined by a parcel's dimensions rather than its actual weight. The Honeywell tool is designed to provide more accurate measurements than traditional paper-and-pencil methods while costing less than top-shelf warehouse dimensioners, Honeywell Safety and Productivity Solutions (SPS) Chief Marketing Officer Brian Hovey said in an interview.

Honeywell also unveiled a voice-directed wearable headset called the Connected Retail Solution. The device is designed to allow retail store employees to fulfill e-commerce orders from the floor without impeding their ability to handle tasks like price checking, inventory management, and speaking with shoppers.

Store employees wearing the device will be able to use voice prompts to go through multiple steps that are directed through an enterprise resource planning (ERP) or warehouse management system (WMS) platform, Hovey said. The package is similar to Honeywell's Vocollect system for warehouse picking operations, but adapted to retail and customer-facing tasks, he said.

Finally, Honeywell announced a number of upgrades and enhancements to its existing product line of ruggedized mobile devices, handheld computers, and barcode scanners.

Morris Plains, N.J.-based Honeywell has been expanding into the supply chain management market since acquiring data capture equipment supplier Intermec Inc. in 2012 and material handling automation provider Intelligrated Systems Inc. in 2016. Earlier this year, Honeywell teamed with chip giant Intel Corp. to develop Internet of Things (IoT) solutions for retail and logistics applications.

Six months into its purchase of Intelligrated, Honeywell is continuing to add hardware and software pieces to its array of products that are intended to help retail and DC facilities handle the challenges of e-commerce, SPS CEO John Waldron said during an online press conference held Friday at Intelligrated's Mason, Ohio, headquarters.

"The e-commerce boom and growing consumer expectations have put a spotlight on operational inefficiencies and disconnects," Waldron said, according to a transcript of the event. "To stay competitive, businesses need to deploy the Internet of Things, cloud solutions, and automation throughout their supply chains."

The new product launches and upgrades showcase the company's progress in folding Intelligrated's range of warehouse automation solutions into Honeywell's catalog of rugged computers, scanners, printers, and voice-directed platforms, Hovey said.

"This is anchored around the retail supply chain," said Hovey. "It is intended to help our customers adapt to the challenges of handling e-commerce fulfillment, such as warehouse automation, processing inventory with speed and flexibility, and handling individual-item-level orders for e-commerce instead of the traditional pallet-level ordering."

About the Author

Ben Ames
Senior Editor
Ben Ames has spent 20 years as a journalist since starting out as a daily newspaper reporter in Pennsylvania in 1995. From 1999 forward, he has focused on business and technology reporting for a number of trade journals, beginning when he joined Design News and Modern Materials Handling magazines. Ames is author of the trail guide "Hiking Massachusetts" and is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism.

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