10 January 2017


No matter what sector you work in, downtime in a warehouse and logistics operation is an expensive and inconvenient issue. 

If your staff are unable to work because of problems with a mobile device, the whole supply chain can be disrupted, costing time and money and impacting customer satisfaction.      

And that’s just the tangible costs. Downtime also leads to a range of hidden costs that are harder to quantify. For example, responsiveness and innovation suffer because resources are used rectifying downtime, while stress can rapidly increase.   

Furthermore, in today’s socially connected world there is also a risk to brand damage should a product fail to get delivered to a store or to a customer on time which, in extreme circumstances, can negatively impact share price.   

Downtime can be disastrous when ramping up operations at peak season. Getting support from a managed service provider can be the key to improving operational efficiency and avoiding this situation.  

What’s getting you down?   

There’s no doubt about it, warehouses are increasingly relying on technology to boost productivity and efficiency. But with this comes the inevitable problem of downtime.   

The more technology in use, the more potential there is for downtime. Whether it is a single device failure or problem with the system in general, any downtime issues can have a debilitating effect on a warehouse or logistics operation.   

The latest rugged mobile devices often have to pass stringent tests to achieve reliability ratings, but this doesn’t mean they are completely safeguarded from damage, or software issues from the operating system or installed applications.     

And that’s not all. You have to consider whether all of your devices are charging correctly, if any additional scanners are functioning normally, if your printers have been cleaned recently and you have plenty of spare consumables and if all of your accessories are fit for use.   


The devices used by staff are one piece of the technology puzzle. The wireless network that connects them is vital and warehouses must ensure they have good wireless coverage both inside the warehouse and outside into the loading bays and docks. A problem with the network or lack of connectivity can have a devastating effect.   

The ability to see up-to-date information can be crucial in making the right choices. Without this visibility, managers cannot make the decisions that could be the difference between struggling with demand and staying on top of it. So ensure that you have a reliable connection between devices and there are no Wi-Fi blackspots that can cause delays in updating data.  

Domino effect   

Of course, not all instances of downtime can be avoided. And without a backup strategy in place, the loss of even one mobile device can hinder an operation as it struggles to fill the gap in productivity and also looks to solve the issue with the device.   

This domino effect often results in further problems that may not become clear until long after a period of downtime has begun.   

The initial loss of productivity could be compounded by a lack of responsiveness from warehouse managers as they look for solutions. Employees may have to work overtime to cover the gaps. Any planned improvements will have to be delayed. Meanwhile, stress levels increase due to the extra work and inefficient use of time.   

All of which can lead to unhappy customers.   

It’s absolutely vital that these issues are considered before introducing any new technology into a warehouse or logistics operation. How would you cope with device failure? How can you reduce downtime, and make sure that the impact of any downtime is minimised? How quickly can you recover?    

How can you meet the downtime challenge?  

Minimising downtime and increasing productivity will rank highly on any warehouse manager’s list. So how can you ensure that the technology you want to bring into your operation won’t let you down?   

Well, regular maintenance is a great start, just like making sure that you invest in technology that will be supported for a minimum term. Machines will break down at some point and if you are not ready for such an event, the downtime will increase. Some suppliers do include preventative maintenance checks as part of their standard offering. By implementing device inspections, you can identify problems before they become too serious.   

Invest in people as well as tech

Technology in warehouse and logistics is advancing at a rapid pace and sometimes warehouse staff might not be aware of how it works. They are the ones who will be using the devices you invest in, so to make sure you avoid downtime due to user issues, train employees on the functions and features of the technology that they are using every day.   

You can also take the opportunity to train your staff to identify prospects to increase efficiency. Teach them how to tackle various warehouse issues and ensure that training is not a one-off session, but rather an on-going process.   

Encourage your staff to create their own regular reviews and stay updated on latest technology. Encouraging clear communication helps in tackling problems much faster and when important information is shared in a transparent manner, you reduce the associated risks.     

Choosing the right partner   

A trusted support partner can be the key to implementing new technology in a way that will avoid downtime in the future.   

But as well as advising on the best technology fit for your operation, a great partner will provide the on-going support needed to deal with any downtime issues.  

A partner should offer a number of support services, such as next day ‘hot swapping’ of damaged devices as part of a standard support so you don’t have the stress of replacing a device. They should also ensure any device swapped will come pre-configured for your needs. 

On site problem solving during the life of the system should also be part of a standard support package, so users can rest assured that recently launched models will be supported for 10 years as a minimum.   

Managers should look for UK-based support services with dedicated mobile engineering teams to ensure quality repairs and effective support. A partner should provide a range of support services to back the optimised running of your business operation, including 24/7 UK-based support helpdesks, E-portal online booking systems for instant, online support and rapid response call out from a team of qualified mobile engineers.   

If you would like to discuss your current technology setup or if you are worried about how downtime may affect your business, don’t hesitate to call us on 01274 741860 or email sales@touchstar.co.uk to take advantage of our expert advice.