Expansive portfolio of products and services
23 November 2023
Q&A with Steve Mulroy, Zebra’s EMEA Vertical Marketing Lead for Warehouse, Transport & Logistics.
What is your company’s USP?
With over half a century of barcoding, printing, and enterprise mobile computing, Zebra has an expansive portfolio of hardware, software, services solutions and a partner ecosystem for warehousing and logistics customers looking to automate and digitise their workflows, connecting people, assets and inventory.
Tell us about your recent innovations?
Aurora industrial automation scanning software enables users to solve their track-and-trace and inspection needs. Experienced users can develop, refine and customise jobs, while first-time users can use interactive guidance to develop powerful applications for a range of industries. Aurora deploys Deep Learning and 3D Vision Expertise to identify low-contrast features and deep learning capabilities to solve problems too complex for traditional machine vision algorithms. This results in reduced training time and greater productivity.
What challenges do your customers face and how are helping them respond?
Labour shortages affect the retail and warehouse sector, with retailers needing to offer more benefits to recruit and retain talent. Zebra is using automation to enhance staff satisfaction. Zebra’s 2023 Warehousing Vision Study found that 69% of warehouse decision-makers already have or are planning to automate workflows by 2024 to support warehouse associates and shift them toward more customer-centric, high-value tasks.
Another issue is rising e-commerce volumes, with consumers expecting speed and convenience. In this environment, downtime
and inaccurate inventory can result in millions of dollars in lost transactions and poor customer experiences. E-commerce leaders are leveraging Zebra technology to optimise their fulfilment, fleet and delivery systems, from equipping workers with mobile devices that enhance productivity, to radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to drive asset visibility.
What industry sectors do you target?
Zebra Technologies serves the warehouse, logistics, manufacturing, retail, transportation, public and healthcare sectors.
What are you doing to meet sustainability objectives?
Zebra is committed to tackling waste and pollution. Zebra has a circular economy programme which enables people to sell underused devices back to Zebra or send them back to Zebra to be recycled. Zebra also utilises electronic temperature sensors to prevent food and pharmaceuticals going to waste and supports non-polluting printing alternatives.
What trends have you seen in your sector this year?
Zebra’s 2023 Global Warehousing Study confirmed 58% of warehouse decision-makers plan to deploy radio frequency identification (RFID) technology by 2028 to increase inventory visibility and reduce out-of- stocks. We also found that 69% of warehouse decision-makers already have or are planning to automate workflows by 2024.
What does your company have planned for 2024?
We’ll listen to customers and innovate on their behalf. We’ll also educate the market, attending LogiMAT, SITL Paris 2024, and the Passenger Terminal 2024.
How important is technology in modern warehousing and logistics?
Technology accelerates operations and drives customer satisfaction. Zebra’s customers benefit from our technologies to rapidly track goods in a demanding marketplace. For example, the Noerpel Group needed automation to track its high-volume inventories. The group used Zebra’s FS40 fixed industrial automated scanners to accurately record shipping labels while speeding up the replenishment and redistribution of customer inventory. Zebra’s scanners returned reliable data capture and processing with a scan rate of almost 100%, and time savings in excess of 50%.
What is the latest news from your company?
Hippo Harvest, an environment agriculture startup, has successfully integrated Zebra’s autonomous mobile robots into its indoor arable farming operations. Hippo Harvest is leveraging Zebra’s Freight100 AMRs to farm its plants more efficiently, delivering precise levels of water and nutrition to the plants. The robots save up to 92 percent of water and use 55 percent less fertiliser than conventional produce growers. This demonstrates an exciting user-case for Zebra as the company supports sustainability throughout its operations.
Steve Mulroy is Zebra’s EMEA Vertical Marketing Lead for Warehouse, Transport & Logistics. Steve has spent the last 20+ years in product management and product marketing in the B2B technology sector managing hardware and software solutions portfolios in partner and customer facing roles Steve has previously worked for Ricoh, Samsung, and Kodak Alaris, before joining Zebra Technologies in January 2018 and his career has spanned roles located in the UK and the Netherlands, where he now resides.
ZEBRA TECHNOLOGIES EUROPE LTD
Frobisher Way, Hatfield Business Park, Hatfield, Middlesex, AL10 9TR Tel: 01628 556000
CASE STUDY: WATERMAN ONIONS
Waterman Onions, a Netherlands-based onion producer, handles over 150,000 tonnes of onions a year. The company needed an electronic workflow to optimise inbound operations, onion sorting and onward shipment. They wanted to eliminate pen-and- paper procedures and deploy a warehouse management system (WMS) for its complex processes. Also required was a mobile platform providing data insights to improve operations.
Traditionally, the company manually processed onion loads, orders, product quality and logistics. In the past, drivers were given paper-based instructions to unload onions, for example. Sometimes, more than 30 trucks are unloaded at one time. The onions are destined for sorting machines or stored, but Waterman Onions was unable to properly check whether the load ended up in the right place. Furthermore, updated food safety regulations and quality controls increased paperwork. For more agile operations, the company needed a state-of-the-art, software solution for product insight across the supply chain.
Zebra Technologies was chosen to digitalise the tracking and tracing of onion sorting and shipment in real time. Key to this was Zebra’s Android devices, able to meet the demands of a warehouse environment like dust, continuous work and rugged manual handling.
For its forklift trucks, Waterman Onions selected the Zebra DS3608-ER Ultra-Rugged Barcode Scanner. The device can read barcodes from forklift trucks at over 20 metres away, enabling drivers to capture codes without exiting their vehicle. The scanner is fixed into the cab using a Zebra certified Gamber Johnson docking station, which houses the Zebra XSlate L10 Rugged Tablet. The device is used by drivers to view and manage work orders and can be removed from its dock if teams need to view data and collaborate in real time.
Waterman Onions also uses the MC3300 Rugged Mobile Android Computer to periodically carry out inventory checks on its 11,000 crates and cages. And, to track crates, Zebra’s partner in the project, Actemium, installed The Zebra ZT411 industrial printer at the inbound dock. The printer is used to create barcode labels for cages supplied by farmers. These are not owned by Waterman Onions, but can now be efficiently tracked and traced as they move through the onion processing stages. The devices enable warehouse staff to work without paper, gain live insight into truck arrival times and have a better view of real time data to make informed and effective decisions, enhancing customer satisfaction.
As they coordinate onion processing, Zebra’s mobile devices have become essential, with Actemium providing a package of services to protect the devices over their planned lifecycle. This includes elements from Zebra Mobility DNATM, a suite of software, utilities and apps that makes it easier to deploy, secure and get the most out of Zebra’s mobile devices. Within the package is LifeGuardTM for Android, which provides security updates throughout the expected lifecycle of the devices, and longer than the three years typically guaranteed by Android. In addition, the technology is protected by Zebra OneCare EssentialTM Support and Service, with next-day device replacement if needed.
With Zebra’s barcode scanning, mobile computing, printing and software solutions, Waterman Onions streamlined workflows, improved data insights and built future-ready processes for onion reception, sorting and delivery. The project exemplifies Zebra Technologies’ ability to collaborate with partners to deliver industry-tailored, end-to-end solutions intelligently connecting people, assets and data, helping customers make business-critical decisions.