Warehouses Operating Without A Wire by ProQuest


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									statusreport                       Technology
                                   WIRELESS WAREHOUSE

Warehouses Operating Without A Wire
Wireless technology is converging to make warehouses more productive. By Brian Schiavo

D      ale and Thomas Popcorn makes and
       distributes gourmet popcorn prod-
ucts in a variety of flavors, including choco-
                                                                                                         NETWORKING: Wireless technology,
                                                                                                         such as voice recognition, increases
late, peanut butter, butter toffee and walnut                                                            efficiency and accuracy.
crunch, to name only a few of its two dozen-
or-so taste alternatives.
   In the past few years, the Englewood, NJ
company has been experiencing tremendous
growth as the demand for its products has
moved to retail stores, in addition to its exist-
ing catalog and online sales.
   The company needed a way to manage
this growth, as well as its complex inventory
needs. It needed to find a way to enhance its
business processes, while at the same time
maintain the highest quality popcorn and
also ensure quick delivery.
   The first part of the solution involved
Dale and Thomas moving to a larger facil-
ity that incorporated 105,000 square feet of           These antennas are access points that          with the wireless network, including RFID,
warehouse space, which would allow it to            connect to a central switch, which allows         voice, barcodes and mobile computing to get
accommodate greater product volume. Next,           data collected by units such as Motorola’s        the job done.
to handle the flow of that product, the com-        MC9000 handheld mobile computer, to be
pany decided to implement a more efficient          wirelessly connected to a host server via a       Scanning Speeds Up The Process
inventory management system.                        facility’s WMS system.                               “We run an application on some Intermec
   The backbone of this is a wireless, scal-           “801.11b is the standard radio frequency       handheld devices, which runs through the
able, communications infrastructure installed       system used in the industry now. If you           wireless network and goes to our WMS prod-
in the facility by Siemens Communications,          have that, you have the ability to run any        uct, which is RadioBeacon by Accellos,” says
a Munich, Germany-based technology ser-             RF devices on your wireless network,” notes       Norm Steiner, manager of IT infrastructure
vices company. This wireless infrastructure         Bob Morgenroth, director of supply chain          for Dale and Thomas. “The work process
enables Dale and Thomas to effectively man-         management for Retalix, the Plano, TX-based       begins when workers uncrate the product
age the arrival, storage and departure of           provider of software solutions for the food       we’ve received—raw materials—and use the
items throughout its warehouse via a bar-           distribution industry. Its Power Warehouse        handhelds to scan it into inventory.”
code tracking system.                               WMS is designed to work in tandem with               After this, they create a work order speci-
   Stories like this illustrate how wireless        wireless network systems.                         fying the type and amount of raw materials
technology, which encompasses RFID, voice,             The access points in the ceiling take radio    to make the finished product. They will scan
barcode scanning and mobile computing,              frequencies generated by wireless devices         these materials and take them out of inven-
makes warehouses more efficient, more pro-          and relay them back to the WMS system in          tory, to reflect that the materials were used
ductive and cheaper to operate.                     the main office.                                  to create finished product. After the manu-
   “It all starts with the infrastructure,” says       Every facet of the warehouse’s function-       facturing process, workers scan the finished
Mike Maris, director of industry solutions          ing—receiving, put away, replenishment and        product in, this time as a pallet of popcorn of
for Motorola, 
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