Australian-owned and operated by the Winson Group, Signet is one of Australia's leading distributors of warehouse consumables, packaging, safety and cleaning supplies with six distribution centres Australia-wide. Known for delivering customer excellence for more than 50 years, Signet dispatches just over 6,000 carton picks for businesses every day. Its customers benefit from low prices, bulk-buy discounts and the convenience of products always being in stock and delivered on time.

The use of wearable scanning and mobile computing technology has significantly improved our efficiencies and time to pick orders as well as improving picking accuracy. The Zebra wearable technology allows our team members to have both hands free whilst picking orders, reducing risk of manual handling incidents. On average, this has saved each operator around 8.3 hours a week and an operations annual saving of $67,000.

Allen Notley, Warehouse Manager (QLD), Signet

The Challenge

With more than 5,500 products stocked to suit a range of industries, Signet needed a way to standardise its day-to-day picking across its distribution centres, while solving the issue of Microsoft ‘end-of-life’ support for Windows embedded handheld devices.

More than 20 staff at Signet used handheld mobile computers to pick and scan cartons. These devices relied on a Windows enterprise operating system that would no longer be supported after January 2020, exposing Signet to potential data security risk. Also, Signet believed that a switch to wearable devices would reduce manual handling incidents and increase efficiencies.

‘End-of-life’ technology presents an industry-wide challenge, as tens of thousands of devices relying on a Windows operating system will need to be upgraded to Android by 2020. In coming to terms with this disruption, Signet also had to factor in how changing an operating system would affect productivity, particularly as staff become familiar with new systems and processes. Equipped with the right solution, Signet could decrease pick times and increase volume, giving them a critical edge in a competitive industry.

The Solution

Faced with a fundamental challenge to its core business operations, and as part of its drive to continually increase efficiency, Signet ran a time-in-motion study to determine what efficiencies could be gained by upgrading its technology. Based on the study’s findings, Signet approached its sister company insignia, an Australian leader in labelling, identification and data capture solutions. After an initial consultation with Signet’s team, insignia recommended Zebra’s Android-based industrial wearable computers: WT6000 and RS4000 to support the rollout. These devices mount on the wrist and finger, allowing workers to have both hands free during the picking process.

insignia was confident in calling on Zebra’s collaborative, customer-committed expertise to quickly scope, develop, test and rollout the new solution.

The deployment was rolled out in early January 2019 across four Signet distribution centres with the remaining two up and running in October 2019.

Running on an Android operating system, the WT6000 computer is smaller and lighter than other wearables in the market, fitting comfortably on every worker and on any size arm. When worn with the small and lightweight RS4000 1D Bluetooth ring scanner, workers are free to keep their hands and eyes on the items they are handling.

The Benefits

The new wearable hands-free devices brought a 40% reduction in the picking times for the warehouse workers, which translated to an operations annual saving of $67,000.

In addition to reducing the potential for physical strain, the solution was supported by Zebra All-Touch Terminal Emulation (TE), powered by Ivanti (formerly Wavelink). This provides an easy-to-use interface, that future-proofs Signet’s fleet changes without any changes to their back-end warehouse management systems.

Most importantly, feedback from the warehouse staff has been very positive. One of Signet’s Warehouse operators commented, “the wearables are far easier to use and save time per pick, while the old handheld type scanners are difficult to hold while picking, we regularly leave them behind and lose more time.”

With Zebra’s Android-based industrial wearable computers, we have an exceptionally powerful and easy-to-use device. It has radically improved staff efficiency, allowing our teams to complete tasks on the floor at a much faster rate.

Allen Notley, Warehouse Manager (QLD), Signet.



Find out how insignia helped Signet future-proof it's warehouse operations and improve productivity.