Making Safety the Strongest Link in the Chain
Helping the warehousing, distribution and retail operations sector navigate the wild wild world of supply chain safety & productivity
When one of the biggest ecomm giants in the world had a problem, Ergodyne and its partners had the solution—and then some.
The chaos of the global supply chain is creating a wide range of critical challenges for distribution centers of all sizes. Figuring out how to do more, safer, without cutting corners chief among them. And it’s not just the smaller guys under pressure. The biggest of the big are feeling the pinch, too.
A CUSTOMER IN NEED
Working with one of its distributor partners, Ergodyne identified an urgent need in a warehouse setting with one of the “biggest of the big”.
The customer needed a solution for its fulfillment centers to keep expensive handheld scanners safe, secure and easily accessible—and its current harness option was not cutting it.
Ergodyne not only delivered, but recognized what the customer was asking for could be better. 18 months later, the safety innovator had not only improved upon the original design but had rolled out an entire line of solutions to address a wide range of applications.
PARTNERS IN PROBLEM SOLVING, A TO Z
Ranging anywhere from $800 to $2,000 a pop, handheld scanner devices don’t come cheap—a cost that’s compounded every time they’re dropped or left behind by workers.
“The customer needed a way to mitigate both of those issues,” said Nate Bohmbach, Ergodyne Product Director.
And while their original scanner harness solution did indeed do that on a very basic level, there was an even bigger problem at play.
“Their current option didn’t seem viable in the long term,” said Mark Boland, National Accounts Manager, Ergodyne. “The customer couldn’t square the current lead times with challenges like seasonal influx of demand and new fulfillment centers constantly opening up, among many other challenges.”
Beyond just the features and benefits of this particular solution, they clearly needed a supply chain partner to help come up with a sustainable way to keep scanner harnesses in stock and on workers. So while Bohmbach and his product development team got to work devising a scanner harness solution to address the workers’ needs, Boland got busy whiteboarding a sustainable path forward by leveraging the presence of Ergodyne’s distribution partner within the customer’s facilities.
“The infrastructure was very much there already thanks to [our channel partner’s] strong existing relationship with the facility,” explained Boland. “They had been supplying PPE and gear onsite for awhile and that had been going well. It was a matter of plugging into that and making our scanner harness part of a sustainable supply channel the customer already knew and trusted.”
Boland added, “Because of that, we were confident we could deliver a lot of extra value by alleviating that stress.”
But first, they needed to deliver an actual product.
DELIVERING BEYOND EXPECTATIONS
With the product development cycle full speed ahead, Ergodyne needed to navigate the same choppy supply waters as their customers. In the same way they leveraged strong channel partner relationships to solve inventory control concerns for the customer, they tapped their global sourcing network to keep them on course.
“There’s already a million levers to pull in any product launch, but to do it in this amount of time takes a special mix of experience, exceptionally strong sourcing partnerships and a touch of madness, I guess,” said Bohmbach.
Lo and behold, within a few months, the Tenacious Work Gear® line welcomed its newest member: the 3132 Scanner Harness + Lanyard.
Better yet? “The customer now has this scanner harness in vending machines on site,” said Boland. “In-stocks are beefed up, we’re accounting for growth... the supply chain is stable.”
Though in typical Ergodyne fashion, things didn’t stop there.
“Look, the 3132 [Scanner Harness + Lanyard] is a good product,” said Bohmbach. “But we saw more opportunities to build on it with an entire category.”
And build they did, going from that one single scanner harness to an entire offering of device management solutions in about 18 months.
“One of the biggest pieces of feedback we received after introducing the original  scanner harness was the need for a breakaway feature for safety concerns,” said Bohmbach. “That became a must-have on our next scanner harness iteration [model 3138], along with padded shoulders and small but hugely helpful details like a badge holder and pen loops.”
With the warehouse and fulfillment sector set for sustained double-digit growth, Ergodyne looked to support not just warehouse and distribution center workers with the new harnesses, but workers throughout the entire ecosystem.
“Think about your typical day and how many people you see using scanners and handheld computers,” said Bohmbach. “From the people delivering packages to your door to the ones putting them in your trunk at curbside. These things are everywhere, but they come in all shapes and sizes and are applied differently from role to role and organization to organization.”
And a harness design wouldn’t necessarily make the most sense for many of those applications.
“Many times, you’ll see handheld devices placed at packing stations, forklifts and restocking carts,” continued Bohmbach. “For those folks and more customer-facing workers, we created a lineup of holsters that can mount to belts and equipment—that way they’re never without a work station.”
“We really needed to account for as many of those variables as possible if we wanted to make an impact in this space," said Bombach.
FULL-SCALE SUPPLY CHAIN SAFETY, WAREHOUSE TO DOORSTEP
So what about all the other safety and productivity concerns in warehousing, distribution and retail ops beyond device management?
“We’ve been working hard to build a collection of solutions to rally around all the hazards and hang-ups faced by this critical workforce,” said Bohmbach.
Those hazards range from sprains and strains (still the number one work related injury out there) to slips and falls, temperature stress and beyond.
Bohmbach continued, “While this sector has certainly been growing in the years leading up to it, the pandemic exposed a need to do more in building a support system around these workers at every link in the chain—warehouse to doorstep."