Ruggedized Printers Smooth Operations for Warehouse Personnel

Mobile printers can withstand the rigors of moving around a warehouse and mounting on a forklift.

By: Mina Lee and Jessica Bernardo, Contributors

Warehouses and distribution centers (DCs) represent the hub of today’s ecommerce. They are full of staff seeking to deliver their company’s products to customers throughout the U.S. and beyond. Personnel within these thriving and bustling depots depend on products, tools and systems that will perform day-in-day-out – ‘round the clock in many instances – without fail.

It’s all about delivering their company’s goods to customers as quickly, accurately and efficiently as humanly possible. Anything less is subpar, considering the desire for customer satisfaction is at an all-time high.

Ruggedized label printers play a critical role in the successful operation of warehouses, DCs and manufacturing facilities. Built to withstand such rough and tumble infrastructures, these printers clearly and concisely print purchase order information, as well as barcode labels to assure accurate tracking of individual parcels, as well as bulk shipments. This ensures packages will arrive when and where they should.

Buying the Right Printer

What should businesses look for before buying ruggedized label printers? The descriptor says it all. Ruggedized. That should include:

  • Sturdy components and highly durable printer enclosures
  • Dust and moisture protection with at least an IP54 rating
  • Drop-resistance that has been proven by testing
  • Durable printers should have fewer openings in the casing in order to better protect against water ingress

All these design elements are vital for mobile printers to withstand the common bumps and bruises of warehouse, DCs and manufacturing settings. Mobile printers can withstand the rigors of moving around a warehouse and mounting on a forklift; they are able to go to where the work exists. Expansive print head life is another integral product element for ensuring continuous operations without the annoyance of having to constantly replace this key part.

Logistics purchasing and warehouse managers alike should also keep an eye out for ruggedized printers that are ridiculously easy to set up and use. This includes having:

  • Printers featuring emulations and POS (point of sale) system languages enabling seamless connectivity and network operability in retail and warehouse operations.
  • Systems with easily replaceable print heads and media (labeling or consumables in other words).
  • Single-hand drop-in media roll loading is especially ideal.
  • Label makers with color LCD readily provide printer and battery status.

Ruggedized label printers may cost slightly more than standard versions, but they’ll pay off in time. Be mindful that regular label printers are prone to more enclosure breakage issues and often require replacements after only two to three years. Companies can safely expect at least five years of continuous use from more rugged versions.

Ruggedized thermal label printers are especially helpful in ecommerce operations, where quick transportation requirements exist, in these key areas:

  • Scope: Given the printers’ inherent capability to hold abundant amounts of media versus laser and inkjet systems, they are ideal for producing exponentially more shipping and postage labels before a refill is required.
  • Speed: Typically faster – producing more inches of labels per second (IPS) – and designed with the customer in mind to best enhance productivity for today’s logistics professionals, thermal label printers save businesses much time and effort.
  • This is particularly germane for high-volume shipping operations.
  • Savings: Additional cost savings as there’s no need for ink or cartridges.
  • Size: Compact in design, ruggedized mobile printers allow professionals the flexibility to create labels wherever needed.

As ecommerce increasingly becomes a de facto shopping preference, business logistics functions must operate accordingly. Complete accuracy in parcel labeling should be expected. Consumers will expect nothing less. If their golf clubs or espresso maker don’t arrive on time, they’ll take notice.

The inclusion of label printers that print clearly and sharply while absorbing the rough and tumble nature of warehouses and DCs is becoming less of should have and more of a must have as breakages may equal shipping delays. WMHS

Mina Lee is the Senior Product Line Manager, Label and Receipt Printer Solutions for Toshiba America Business Solutions and Jessica Bernardo is the Senior Product Marketing Manager, Label and Receipt Printer Solutions. Toshiba America Business Solutions’ rugged, lightweight and portable printers can operate in extreme conditions and are used in supply chain, logistics, material handling and retail applications (http://business.toshiba.com).