In Elkhart, Ind., Tim Markley is already thinking about how he will use the iPad next. The president of Markley Enterprises, a manufacturer of sales and marketing support products, sees the Apple tablet computer as a means to more efficient warehouse operations and supply chain execution. The company has already outfitted its swing-reach forklifts with iPads, a move Markley says has improved the put-away process. Now, instead of jotting down notes with a pen and paper and then walking to a terminal to log put-away locations, operators tap their iPad screens and enter the data into the company's warehouse management system on the spot. The system updates in real time, allowing other workers to see put-away locations immediately.
To measure the effects of this iPad-based automation, Markley even outfitted operators with pedometers. So far, they're taking 30 percent fewer steps to complete their tasks. That may put a kink in the corporate fitness program, but it certainly boosts productivity.
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