Raging consumer demand for fast e-commerce services is putting pressure on traditional warehouse parcel sorting practices, driving increased demand for improved scanning technology to handle a flood of small, irregular shapes streaming down DC conveyors, according to a session at the ProMatDX trade show today.
The consequences of that trend can make serious impacts on DC operations, such as lost throughput, misrouted items, and damaged goods, said Don MacDavitt, an account executive with industrial sensor provider SICK AG.
“You have seen for years how shifting consumer buying habits and the need for efficiency in the sorting and shipping process have dramatically changed packaging methods,” MacDavitt said. “The new mix of package types passing through the DC challenges even the most advanced material handling system. Now, in addition to cardboard cartons, you see a wide variety of other things, like clear and translucent polybags, paper and plastic flats in various colors, and overstuffed envelopes.”
To keep up with the flood, companies need to choose scanners that can read matrix codes, optical character recognition (OCR), and hazardous material labeling, and then provide all that data to platforms that can apply analytics and trouble-shooting functionality to avoid trouble before it starts, he said.
By choosing the right automatic identification (Auto ID) system, companies can leverage Auto ID -scanning stations for tasks beyond just reading barcodes, such as single item verification, bag versus box recognition, identification of boxes carrying dangerous goods, and item dimensioning, said MacDavitt.