Mobile Apps Bring Labor Solutions to the Warehouse Floor

And supervisors see the time-saving benefits. By Peter Schnorbach


Or, consider what happens when an employee forgets to clock in. They’re out on the floor, they’re working, but there is no clock-in. That means the supervisor has to make a note, go back to their office and clock them in.

Take these same scenarios, but now that supervisor can pull up that data on their tablet or smartphone to answer performance data or clock in an employee right on the spot.

Think about it—when a supervisor doesn’t have to trek back to their office to sift through information, they’re able to answer questions faster and spend more time on the floor, using their mobile device to take notes and keep track of employees on a one-to-one basis. Mobile apps give that supervisor a real time snapshot of their labor force performance across the board. Tardiness, productivity, utilization, safety, and quality—all of that should be at their fingertips while they are engaging with any given employee on the floor.

Coaching is another area where going mobile can significantly enhance operations. Coaching requires spending time on the floor observing and documenting performance. It might be measuring how well that new hire is learning their job. Sometimes it means creating a paper trail in the event they have to discipline or terminate the employee. In the past, a supervisor would have to go get a clipboard and paper, pull up the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), and they’d take notes that would be filed or input when they got back to their office. By adding an app-enabled mobile device to this situation, a supervisor can access the SOP and forms, take notes and input data on the floor that synchronizes with the desktop application. That’s a huge timesaver, which can dramatically increase the amount and quality of time a supervisor can spend interfacing with employees.

For your distribution operation, it’s only a matter of time before mobile apps become an everyday tool in the warehouse. And when that time comes for your operation, there are a few things to consider before jumping into the technology: what functionality will you need from a mobile app? How will you prepare for pilot and deployment? What kind or kinds of devices will you use? If you buy iPads for all your supervisors, will they get to take them home? What apps do you make available or block (e.g. Facebook)? These are issues most companies haven’t even thought about yet. Adding mobility to any operation will require training and setting new expectations and policies.

Now is the time for you to start planning for mobile apps within your distribution environment. Going mobile with labor management solutions can and will transform the role of the supervisor in your warehouse. Empowering that supervisor by putting actionable information at their fingertips can truly improve performance and build strong relationships between the workforce and management.

 

Peter Schnorbach is Senior Director, Product Management for Manhattan Associates.

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