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Leverage your dimensioning data: information captured by automated dimensioners is now being used for more than just parcel shipping optimization.

E-commerce and omnichannel retailers continue to rely on in-motion automated dimensioners, often in scan tunnel format, to capture the size and weight of outbound parcels to minimize dimensional (DIM) weight shipping charges. However, there's been a developing trend to leverage the data--and the technology that collects it--for different purposes, says Doug Jones, director of business development for integration at Datalogic.

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"Companies are using the captured data in more ways than originally intended," he explains. "We're seeing them use the technologies to gather information for optimizing inventory, for example."

With more facilities deploying automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS) and goods-to-person handling, knowing the precise size and weight of a received product--tied to an automatically captured bar code--allows an operation's warehouse management system (WMS) to optimize putaway.

"It's advantageous for manual operations as well," Jones adds. "Some facilities use that size and weight data to establish work standards. They expect associates to load and unload packages at a certain rate, but those rates will vary depending on the loads. Obviously it's easier to move a lot of small packages than big packages, so the DIM weight information helps management plan workloads."

Additionally, because many dimensioners can be equipped with an imaging camera instead of (or in addition to) a laser scanner, they can simultaneously capture an image of the carton as it passes through the scan tunnel. This is ideal for exception handling, says Jones: "If the weight or size doesn't fall within an expected parameter, it can be flagged for inspection."

Jones also notes an uptick in requests for equipment that can capture dimensioning information about products at the unit level. "It's a different scale of product, more in the size range of a keychain to a flat pack of water bottles, for example," he explains. "The information can not only be used by the WMS to help with storage and handling, but also in selecting the appropriate size of outbound packaging for direct-to-consumer shipment."

To support these expanded applications for captured dimensional data, Datalogic's equipment has been engineered to marry the information together and then pass it to a WMS or a warehouse control system (WCS). "Or, we can capture it, hold it, and process it with algorithms embedded within our system," Jones adds.

Sara Pearson Specter is an editor at large with Modern and can be reached at sara@saraspecter.com.

By Sara Pearson Specter, Editor at Large

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Title Annotation:PACKAGING CORNER
Author:Specter, Sara Pearson
Publication:Modern Materials Handling
Date:Jul 1, 2016
Words:403
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