Peering into Fulfillment Centers and How Barcode Scanners Help
In December, Santa and his elves aren't the only hard-workers fulfilling Christmas present demands. Across the globe, diligent fulfillment center personnel work tirelessly as holiday helpers to package inventory and ship products to customers.
Of course, their work occurs year-round, as manufacturing facilities constantly produce innovative products, like barcode scanners, that require storing, packaging, and shipping by fulfillment center employees.
Keep reading for a look into the career of a fulfillment associate. Additionally, learn how Code Corporation supports fulfillment centers and their hard-working personnel with robust barcode scanners for inventory and advanced data capture technology that scans any types of barcode.
What is a Fulfillment Center?
A fulfillment center is a third-party service provider that processes, packages, and ships products to buyers. You might think of a warehouse when you picture a fulfillment center, but consider that the central role of a warehouse is to store inventory. On the other hand, while fulfillment centers may hold merchandise, they also handle the logistics required, from ordering a product to delivering it to a customer's doorstep.
For example, Code's barcode scanners, batteries, and accessories are produced overseas and shipped to Code's fulfillment center in West Valley, Utah. As goods arrive, a Code fulfillment associate will perform quality assurance (e.g., read range or drop tests), store the merchandise, and perform cycle counts. Once an order is placed, a Code fulfillment associate will load the appropriate software onto the devices, create custom hardware bundles, and finalize packaging before sending it to a partner or user.
What do Typical Fulfillment Center Jobs Look Like?
A fulfillment associate is a professional working in a fulfillment center or warehouse environment who organizes, stores, and packages products for shipping. Fulfillment personnel play a vital role in making eCommerce (online shopping) possible.
With over 2,025,059 warehouse associates employed in the United States at the end of 2019, there will continue to be ample job opportunities within this career. If you're interested in gathering a deeper understanding of a fulfillment associate's career path and role, read on about the related duties, qualifications, skills, career trajectory, and job perks.
Fulfillment associates fulfill basic warehouse or fulfillment center tasks like stocking shelves, scanning inventory with portable scanners, product customization, and packing products for shipping. Below are the typical responsibilities of a fulfillment associate working at Code's fulfillment center in West Valley City, Utah:
- Ensure all orders are shipped.
- Perform assembly operations according to procedures.
- Process acceptable parts and screen out defects according to documentation.
- Test and evaluate finished goods.
- Perform operational tests using test equipment and conventional instruments.
- Verify kit components to match work orders.
- Keep tools, equipment, texts, and work area in a clean and orderly condition.
- Use good judgment in assessing the effective use of time, priorities, and resources of the fulfillment center and repairs department.
- Drive continuous improvements in safety, quality, cost, delivery, productivity, and morale.
In addition, this position requires physical demands. Fulfillment associates should be able to perform the following:
- Lift at least 20-50 pounds
- Load and unload trucks
- Stand for hours at a time
- Walk several miles during a shift
- Operate forklifts, hand trucks, and other warehouse equipment
Qualifications, Skills, and Training Requirements
A variety of job qualifications, skills, and equipment training is required or highly recommended for employees to excel in a fulfillment center environment. Regardless of a candidate's educational background, hiring managers will look for the following achievements upon hiring a proficient applicant:
- Employees must be able to use conventional electronic assembly power and hand tools.
- Workers must be capable of lifting 20 pounds.
- Associates must possess strong attention to detail.
- A minimum of one year of experience in a warehouse or fulfillment center environment is ideal.
- Interpersonal communication skills
- Leadership skills
- Exceptional verbal and written communication and presentation skills
- Strong analytical problem-solving skills
- Fulfillment Enterprise Resource Planning
- Warehouse Management System (WMS)
- System Analysis Program Development (SAP)
- Microsoft Office (MS Office) applications like Word and Excel
- Power Industrial Trucks (PIT)
Distinguishing job perks of a fulfillment associate are outlined below. These will differ depending on the company, but this list represents the benefits Code offers its employees.
- Competitive pay with benefits to help employees build a life they love
- 4 / 10-hour shifts
- Health, vision, and dental insurance
- 401k retirement savings
- Paid time off, company holidays
- Develop personally and professionally within a team and company that prioritizes people
As entry-level employees move along in their careers, they might develop an interest in taking on more responsibilities, segueing into a different company division, or stepping into a leadership role. The lists to the right indicate potential opportunities for fulfillment associates interested in building their career goals.
Level 2 Career Opportunities
- Security Officer
- Delivery Driver
- Crew Member
- Material Handler
Level 3 Career Opportunities
Level 4 Career Opportunities
- Team Leader
- Shift Leader
- Shipping Manager
- Warehouse Manager or Supervisor
Level 5 Career Opportunities (5-10 years of experience)
- Assistant General Manager or General Manager
- Sales Manager
- Branch or Area Manager
- Operations Manager
- Warehouse Manager
- Fulfillment Manager
- Supply Chain Manager
How does Code help Fulfillment Center Associates?
Code's barcode readers and barcode scanning software, like CortexDecoder, are mainstays of inventory management, which is the process of ordering, storing, and selling a company's merchandise. For example, warehouse associates use handheld barcode scanners to track packages and inventory, while shipping carriers use our barcode readers to locate orders during the logistics process.
Several customers utilize Code's products to ensure seamless workflows. For instance, German software company P4IT pairs Code's CortexDecoder Software Development Kit (SDK) with smartphones and its augmented reality (AR) app, CaptureID. The combo is then used as inventory scanners. For example: When fulfillment or delivery personnel scan a barcode with a Capture ID-equipped smartphone, they get an onscreen overlay. This AR-based overlay provides a wealth of additional information, such as special handling or delivery instructions. Explore more below about how Code's barcode scanning technology supports fulfillment associates at their jobs.
Code Supports Cloud-Based Barcode Decoding
Code's data capture technology simplifies the workflow of fulfillment associates. Barcode scanning for inventory management used to require walking many miles around warehouses and fulfillment centers. But not anymore!
Machines with embedded cameras can autonomously perform cycle counts, which means fulfillment workers no longer need to walk miles to track and count inventory. The machines take pictures of a facility's inventory and push them into the cloud. From there, Code's CortexDecoder SDK decodes the barcodes for inventory tracking and identification. Third-party software companies then utilize artificial intelligence and proprietary algorithms to analyze barcode data, providing warehouse and fulfillment centers with "digital twins" of their inventory.
With Code's support of cloud-based web applications, the machines do the hard part and provide 100% accuracy (no miscounts or illegible entries). This frees associates to engage in higher-value tasks, learn new skills, or use UPC code readers to ensure products keep "moving out the doors."
Code Supports Smart Glasses and Pick-by-vision
Similarly, Code supports Iristick.G2 Pro smart glasses. Among its many functions, the G2 Pro offers pick-by-vision for anyone needing hands-free barcode scanning with voice commands. This advanced functionality is supported by Code's CortexDecoder software that's embedded in the smart glasses. The glasses provide a standard, hands-free barcode scanning approach that enables users to scan barcodes from a distance and receive instant feedback from remote colleagues to complete a task, such as equipment installation. Unlike some other models, G2 Pro can scan multiple barcodes at once. Other benefits include rapid and efficient barcode scanning and order picking.
Code's Aggressive Data Capture Provides One-and-Done Barcode Scanning
High-Volume, High-Touch Operations Turn to Code
Select Code barcode readers utilize CodeShield® plastic, which is disinfectant-ready. Made of dense polymers, CodeShield withstands routine sanitization, making it ideal for high-volume, high-touch operations within warehouse and fulfillment center environments. CodeShield's superior protection against harsh chemicals at three levels allows fulfillment associates to choose the barcode reader that fits their needs and desired level of infectious disease and virus control. Essentially, employees can disinfect their workstations without damaging their barcode scanning equipment.
Ergonomic Code Barcode Scanners Provide Injury Prevention
Another way Code's handheld scanners assist fulfillment employees is through an ideal ergonomic fit that optimally suits a user's grip. In the warehouse environment, employees are exposed to various physical demands like lifting objects, walking for extended periods, and operating equipment like barcode scanners. Barcode scanning for inventory management is a repetitive activity that can become just as tiring for the hand as these other strenuous activities can be on the body. With Code's ergonomic features designed for comfort and balance, workers can rely on scanners that minimize serious injury or disability.
Interested in seeking a fulfillment career with Code Corporation? Keep an eye out for job opportunities here. Do you have any questions about how Code's barcode readers and soft scanning technology can help you or your colleagues working in logistics or fulfillment? Contact Code, our TAM and EMEA-based data capture experts are ready to help you find the right tool for the job.