Carrying A Torch For Supply Chain And Warehouse Management

Shipedge has just introduced its mobile application to manage inventory across the supply chain. Here’s how tech can help move warehouses stuffed to the rafters with pallets and boxes into the 21st century, according to Shipedge marketing and business development consultant Joe Delbridge.

Picture warehouse operations, and perhaps one image that springs to mind is the last tracking shot of “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” with endless stacks of crates and boxes.

That hoary image brings up a question: With warehouses currently making the jump from storage centers to fulfillment operations — where orders are processed, filled and tracked — can technology keep pace?

In one recent nod toward the intersection between packing, shipping and tech, Shipedge, which offers an eponymous cloud-based supply chain management software solution, announced the availability of Shipedge Torch, which brings the same functionality of its desktop-based warehouse management software to mobile devices.

In an interview with PYMNTS, Joe Delbridge, marketing and business development consultant for Shipedge, said that the new application, available immediately, helps eliminate some of the pain points that exist in warehouse management processes across third-party logistics firms (3PLs) — namely, equipment that is used day to day to track shipments coming in, being held and going out and wasted manhours.

The Torch application, said Delbridge, allows warehouse employees to be flexible as they manage warehouse functions and thus the supply chain between retailers, eCommerce firms and the suppliers who sell to them in real time. One key bit of technology, which helps eliminate errors in package flow: An Android device can be effectively transformed into a barcode scanner, with the use of the built-in camera.

The camera is enabled by the Torch app to scan barcodes by waving the device, which Delbridge noted “allows you to scan large numbers of barcodes” quickly and accurately, and by offering a prompt, such as a vibration, which Delbridge termed “focused feedback,” the user is assured the data is collected.

Though warehouse management extends across both B2C (the main focus of Shipedge) and B2B, there are some advantages with the Torch system that are especially of use in cross-border tracking (and thus B2B), said Delbridge. Far-flung warehouses, say, in Tennessee and China are able to be monitored, not just at the desktop but via mobile as well (which interacts with the Shipedge cloud-based software already in use in the organization).

For speed in cross-border order flow, Shipedge Torch also allows for the ability to cross-dock, which means that warehouse workers have the ability to gather incoming shipments, scan them via mobile device and package the goods for outbound shipments, without the need for inventory to sit dormant in the warehouse — a sped-up transition from warehouse entry to exit that can help improve cash flow. Inventory tracking is reconciled with back-office functions through the Shipedge platform itself.

All of this translates, said Delbridge, into greater visibility and efficiencies for retailers, eCommerce firms and their suppliers. In one recent example, he told PYMNTS, one customer in Europe, where Shipedge is seeing increased demand outside of its traditional home base of the United States, a 3PL reported that, through use of Shipedge and mobile, its scanning process times were cut in half.