Green Mountain takes advantage of the 802.11b wireless connectivity available for the QL 420s, eliminating the need to cable them to the mobile computers. The printers also help protect the wireless network, because they support the WPA wireless security protocol that Green Mountain is migrating to for securing its wireless devices.
A new S4M, stationary Zebra printer with a wireless network card is used to print four-by-10-inch labels for items that are picked by the robotic AS/RS machine. Additionally, Zebra compact desktop printers are used to print case labels, as every product gets put into a case.
Inventory turns quickly at the distribution center, so Green Mountain Coffee Roasters doesn't need the endurance that thermal-transfer labels provide. During its system upgrade, the company decided to switch from thermal-transfer to direct-thermal printing for putaway labels, which has reduced expenses by eliminating ribbon costs. Green Mountain also uses Zebra industrial printers and has Xi series high-performance models in place to support other high volume labeling tasks in the distribution center.
"We use so many printers here that we wanted to standardize," said Casey. "When the time came to start mobile printing, we already used so many Zebra printers we wanted to stick with them. We'd never even entertain another product in our warehouse for printing labels."
"Mobile printing saves time because workers don't need to go back to a print station," says Randy Lewey, material handling and procurement supervisor at Green Mountain's Vermont distribution center. "To travel that distance was about three or four minutes round trip. Eliminating that is a huge time saver."
Maybe even adding enough time to stop and smell the coffee.