An efficient supply chain is the foundation of successful commerce. Once products are designed and manufactured, they must move quickly across the supply chain to warehouses or distribution centers so they can be transported to retail outlets or shipped to complete online transactions.
For manufacturers, meeting ever-changing demand means operational productivity and workflow efficiency are critical. It’s also important for manufacturers to allocate appropriate resources ‒ e.g., warehouse space, labor, and IT devices and equipment ‒ to ensure goods can be produced, packaged, and shipped, to the right place and at the right time. It’s a constant challenge to keep operational processes and workflows at peak performance.
One proven ‘efficiency booster’ for industrial operations is wireless, on-demand label and receipt printing. In the Q&A below, Ravi Panjwani, Vice President of Marketing and Product Management, shares insights below on how the new RuggedJet 4250WBL mobile printers are streamlining operations in all types of modern factories and warehouses.
Q. How do the RuggedJet 4250WBL boost industrial efficiency and productivity?
Regardless of the industrial need, Brother’s feature-rich RuggedJet 4250WBL series of mobile printers are engineered to support lean or just-in-time manufacturing practices along with warehouse operations. They are true industrial powerhouses that exceed the reliability and performance requirements for all types of warehouses and factories.
These printers support a diverse range of industrial applications on the manufacturing floor or in the warehouse. These printers are perfect for high-volume label printing; custom barcode solutions; light-duty labels; super-harsh environment labels; paper invoices, tickets, and receipts.
Q. Why is thermal printing a smart choice for printing in industrial applications?
The RJ4250WBL mobile printers incorporate proven, reliable, and hassle-free thermal printing technology – which means there no messy inks, ribbons or solvents to deal with. Brother also offers a wide selection of thermal media, including standard, premium, fast dry and weatherproof paper and synthetic labels along with receipt paper – so there are many excellent options to support the operational needs for labeling, packaging and shipping in manufacturing and warehouse operations.
Q. What types of labels are frequently needed in manufacturing and warehouse environments?
It’s easy for manufacturers and warehouse professionals to print a wide variety of durable thermal labels in a variety of industry standard sizes from PCs, handhelds, tablets, and smartphones.
The RuggedJet 4250WBL Series can print a wide range of industrial labels including;
- Serial number labels
- Picking and packing labels
- Shipping labels
- Part number labels
- Barcode labels
- Asset tags with barcodes or QR codes
- Procedural labels
- Wire marking
- Tool/Parts identification
- Component labels
- Calibration labels
- UL/CSA recognized labels
- Paper receipts, tickets, invoices, and orders
- Warning and hazardous material labels
Q. What other features distinguish the RuggedJet 4250WBL series from other printers used in manufacturing?
With major improvements in size, performance, ruggedness, connectivity, battery power, and accessories, the AirPrint® certified, compact RuggedJet 4250WBL printers really raise the bar on features and functionality – which are essential for improving industrial performance.
Other advantages include faster printing speeds (up to 5ips), Drop spec of 6.8 ft, IP 54 rating, longer battery life, a real-time battery status indicator, industrial-grade buttons, and an enhanced label and receipt load-secure-refill design. They come standard with 2-year Premier warranty that includes printheads.
This model was engineered to deliver for all types of manufacturing and warehouse facilities.
There’s also NFC capacity for easy device pairing, and AirPrint technology that allows users to print directly from smartphones without downloading or installing drivers, and has a dual radio for Wireless and Bluetooth connectivity
Q. Why is built-in dual radios such a key feature for improving operations inside manufacturing facilities or warehouses?
The RuggedJet 4250WBL is a true game changer for industrial applications. This popular new model delivers the ultimate choice in a 4” label and receipt printer – dual radios that offer the use of either Bluetooth® or Wi-Fi®, for printing ‘inside the 4 walls’ of a manufacturing facility or warehouse, or for on the road for deliveries. The dual radios can be operated simultaneously which expands the usage of these mobile printers in a wide variety of applications.
Q. Explain why a wireless connectivity platform is important in industrial applications
When products are shipped from the manufacturer’s processing plant, brewery or bottling facility to a distributor’s location, they must be received, inventoried and stored properly for quick pick-and-pack of incoming orders. A wireless connectivity platform and warehouse management system can speed up and automate routine processes, from picking, packing and palletizing, to labeling, loading and shipping from the dock. Handheld, forklift-mounted or fixed thermal printers deployed throughout the warehouse enable staff to create and print shelf and barcode labels, pick lists, packing and shipping labels and any other documents required.
The result is greater accuracy and higher productivity per shift, more orders processed per day. Some warehouse management solutions can interface or integrate with upstream transportation management systems and/or downstream route and DSD solutions to ensure smooth and timely movement of goods through the chain.
Q. Can you elaborate on some of the other trends impacting the movement of manufactured goods as they move through warehouses and across the supply chain?
Warehousing operations are growing more complex by the day. As e-commerce transactions become a greater percentage of total sales, brick and mortar retailers have been forced to view inventory management practices at their warehouses differently. Many retailers now make an effort to process e-commerce orders not only from the warehouse, but also from physical stores where inventory can reside.
Retailers are not just looking to improve inventory turns at the warehouse. They want merchandise received, processed and then shipped to the store on the same day, a process often known as “cross docking.” Cross docking is not just efficient, it’s often mandatory for handling fresh and temperature dependent foods. Pre-packaged and store ready merchandise is also perfect for cross dock handling. The key to successful cross docking is often mobile print technologies – such as the 4250WBL – which have the capability to put time-sensitive labeling instructions for handling and routing merchandise in the hands of the person who most needs it—the employee on the warehouse floor.
Here is a case in point: Brother mobile printing technologies like the RuggedJet 4250WBL can be used to fill a critical need in routing product through the warehouse, from receiving through re-shipping. Users with this mobile printer can literally jump inside trucks at the in-bound merchandise dock and start re-labeling boxes for ultimate delivery to the store. These labels enable forklift drivers to identify the exact time and location these goods need to be at the out-bound dock for loading. The labels often tell workers at the out-bound dock where to store merchandise in the truck, helping to make unloading even more efficient when they arrive at the store. Strategic deployment of mobile technologies in warehouse operations has made all of these process improvements possible.
Q. Why are dual Wi-Fi/Bluetooth features such a game changer for manufacturers and warehouses?
The operational challenge in many warehouses for any wireless technology is maintaining network connectivity. Warehouses are generally a mass of concrete and steel, which are not the friendliest environments for mobile devices. Brother products have been designed and rigorously tested to ensure that maximum signal strength and connectivity are maintained virtually all of the time. The dual Wi-Fi/Bluetooth models are ideally suited for these busy signal situations and offer the ultimate choice for almost any industrial operation.
Q. Can cloud-based mobile deploy features benefit manufacturing operations?
The custom-developed, cloud-based Mobile Deploy device management app is another market first from Brother. It’s included free with all models and helps enable simple and easy mobile deployment, integration, and upgrades. In addition to supporting faster, less costly deployment, Mobile Deploy helps deliver improved ROI by allowing a centralized IT or operations rep to remotely manage device updates for one or many operators in the field.
Top Manufacturing and Warehouse Applications
Use the RuggedJet 4200 to print:
- Compact: Twenty percent smaller than its predecessor for lightweight and ergonomic design.
- Rugged: Ultra-rugged construction with reinforced parts, industrial-grade tactile buttons and molded rubber housing engineered for improved toughness, 6.9-ft. drop protection and IP54 certified.
- Powerful: Enhanced print speeds of up to 5ips and industry-leading battery life with real-time battery status indicator.
- Easy to use: Active docking station, visible LCD display, simple loading, NFC one-touch pairing (from NFC enabled devices) and remote updates and configuration with free Mobile Deploy app.
- Smart Li-ion battery (3000mAH): Industry-leading battery life with double the capacity in about half the size – plus indicator for true real-time battery life status.
- Stay Connected: Bluetooth 4.2 (Classic/LE/MFi) and Wi-Fi (802.11 a/b/g/n) connectivity options, plus NFC capability for easy pairing (from NFC enabled devices), and more.
- Compatible: iOS SDKs for easier app integration and development.
- Versatile: Up and down tearbars to mount and use in any direction, top and side access cover release for accessibility in tight spaces, locking roll holders for accurate repeatable print margins and an active docking station accessory for fast mounting or grab and go situations.
- Protection: Exclusive Brother 2-year Premier Limited Warranty.
For more information about the new Brother RuggedJet RJ4200 Series of mobile label and receipt printers, visit brothermobilesolutions.com/ruggedjet