Warehouse Productivity and Human Ability

Popular in sports, the notion of using less strength and more control to achieve the same or better results translates well in the world of warehouse production. Today’s retail warehouses and distribution centers are fully powered by humans, and it stands to reason that helping these workers achieve a higher rate of production with less physical effort would create an environment ripe for higher overall output.

Research into the issues surrounding human productivity in the retail warehouse and distribution center environments led to impressive breakthroughs in technology at Zebra. Development of the new TC8000 specifically addresses common problems with worker fatigue, loss of productivity, stress, and injury caused by traditional dual-plane handheld computers that require workers to “tilt and verify” to complete their jobs.

Human factors research testing as it applies to warehouse activities addressed both hand strength and hand posture, resulting in ground breaking industrial design.

A set of controlled test conducted in an actual working warehouse revealed some important trends. Side-by-side testing included four phases; observational research, usability testing, ergonomic evaluation, and user-centric industrial design.

Overall, single plane units reduce muscle effort and movement up to 55% for repetitive tilt and verify tasks. Muscle effort with single plane units reduced by 22% at low shelf levels for scan and verify activities.

The hand is at its strongest when aligned in a straight line with the arm. When wrist movement is required, users experience fatigue, increased errors, and hand strength reduction.

The Zebra engineers present the new single plane TC8000 design, which is a new category of warehouse mobile device. Its innovative design allows users to comfortably hold the forearm, wrist, and hand in perfect alignment for a maximum amount of hand strength. Gains in productivity are easily achieved with less physical effort from workers.

The elimination of wrist movements that fail to add value to the process and are caused by the gun design of older handheld computers reduce fatigue and injury in workers while increasing overall productivity. The ergonomically designed TC8000 mobile computer is an impressive addition to the arsenal of tools now available to warehouse employees.