Wireless warehouse communications systems allow a warehouse manager and employees to do a number of different things in addition to communicating with each other anywhere in the warehouse. Over time, these systems have become vital to the function of the warehouse. However, they weren’t always as useful. Thanks to vast improvements in communications equipment, today’s communication systems are much more impressive.
The First Communications System – the Speaker System
The first basic form of wireless communication was a one-way speaker system or PA system. The manager would speak into a microphone that would relay his message through the speakers in the warehouse. He could make announcements and ask that a specific employee come to the office or go to one of the wired landline phones in the warehouse and call, but that was about it.
It was better than trying to find someone in the warehouse, but it was limited in how effective it truly was. However, some warehouses still use these PA systems today to make warehouse-wide announcements.
Walkie-Talkies: Two Way Communication
The next step in communication within the warehouse was truly wireless. Employees began carrying walkie-talkies. In the beginning, these devices were paired, and each pair was limited to talking to each other.
However, it wasn’t long before a master system was developed that allowed one person with the master device to contact different handheld walkie-talkies. The individual hand units couldn’t talk to each other, but they could all talk to the master system. The master system could talk to all of the units, too. Eventually this system was miniaturized, and employees began wearing headsets with a small battery pack on their belts. Some systems allowed all units to broadcast to all other units, too.
Walkie-talkies brought two-way communication to the warehouse, and it greatly increased efficiency. An employee could call the office and ask where in the warehouse shelving system a particular pallet was kept or could report problems. While communications were still somewhat limited due to the range, walkie-talkies were a major step forward.
Cell Phones and Tablets
Wireless communications took another major leap forward when cell phones became commonplace in the warehouse. Now it is possible for all employees to talk to or send texts to each other without speaking to everyone. However, cell phones did more than simply allow people to talk to each other.
When cell phones evolved into smart phones and tablets, employees were able to use the cameras to scan barcodes. Cell phones could be connected directly to the warehouse management system. Prior to this, employees would have to use small handheld scanners to read in barcodes, but those scanners often didn’t work right or had to be frequently recharged. These scanners also often had no displays or had very limited displays. There was usually no way to search the inventory to find where a particular pallet was located, for example. Many were limited to checking pallets into or out of inventory.
With cell phone or tablet apps, it’s now possible to search the inventory, make manual adjustments while in the warehouse if necessary, and much more.
What wireless communication system does your warehouse use? Comment below to join the conversation!