Another title we could have easily used for this blog article is “The Importance of Choosing the Right Equipment for the Job,” – specifically in relation to using a Warehouse Management System (WMS). But here’s the underlying point we’re trying to get across: We’ve spoken with quite a few clients who considered using a WMS in conjunction with their consumer-grade gear such as a smartphone, and we are always forced to steer folks clear of doing so…for a number of reasons.
To begin with, the rough, rugged warehouse environment must be taken into consideration; indeed, there is no way consumer-grade gear like a typical Samsung S10 (as just an example) is going to be able to endure the abuse after it’s been run over by forklifts, dropped a multitude of times or been subjected to heavy boxes dropped on top of it. Further, while mobile technology isn’t exactly a new concept for industrial use, reality has proven that the choice of consumer-grade gear over rugged ones for use in an industrial space doesn’t make much sense (again, for a myriad of reasons).
A Brief Rundown
It has been argued that consumer-grade gear such as a smartphone or tablet can be purchased for less than the cost of a purpose-built rugged variant, but the replacement for such a device is considerably higher than the initial one purchased.
Additionally, a consumer device:
- Has a shorter lifecycle (about two years) compared to a rugged device, which is expected to last four years or more.
- Isn’t equipped for enterprise needs; as a workforce tool, mobile computing technology needs to utilize enterprise software, which means businesses need enterprise-grade security and functionality. Warehouse environment-friendly devices boast longer battery power, greater screen resiliency to light and moisture, better acoustics and tougher drop-resistance technology.
- Strains IT resources, because standard mobile devices that access a network – and other users of those mobile devices, including children – means an enterprise is susceptible to viruses and unauthorized access. Additionally, mobile devices are easily lost or stolen, and between provisioning, remotely wiping and upgrading mobile devices and applications on a wide range of consumer devices, the limits of an IT staff’s time are pushed.
- The scan engines found on industrial devices outperform any consumer-grade device. In other words, barcodes can be scanned much quicker. This can save considerable time based on the number of scans per hour.
Into this foray has come Insight Works and our plethora of warehouse environment solutions, including the well-received Warehouse Insight. Here’s an important thing we’d like to mention about our solutions as compared to consumer-grade variants for these environments before we get into some Warehouse Insight specifics: While consumer devices used to appear much sleeker, sexier and more visually appealing than their rugged counterparts, companies like Insight Works have redesigned their mobile products to have the same appeal – but with enhanced brains and brawn.
The Warehouse Insight Factor
Of all the queries we regularly get from clients and prospective clients alike, the most popular – with regard to warehouse environments – is this one: “Is using a consumer-grade device in the warehouse a good option?”
You can already guess what our response to this is, can’t you?
Generally speaking, consumer-grade devices are simply not designed for a rugged warehouse environment, what with all the aforementioned forklift accidents and other abuses they’re likely to endure. The bottom line is, no matter how careful a worker may be, devices get dropped and knocked about, rendering consumer-grade equipment easily susceptible to damage.
- Warehouse devices need to survive a work shift, and when operations run around the clock, batteries need to be replaced between shifts; most consumer-grade devices don’t offer replaceable batteries with battery sled options.
- Warehouse management systems can display large amounts of data on a mobile device’s screen, while consumer-grade variants typically feature a touchscreen keyboard; this keyboard robs screen real estate, leaving less room for viewers to consume information.
- Screens used in a rugged environment are more prone to accidental inputs, thus requiring a “capacitive” stylus for accurate “taps” (as compared to a normal pen or anything else that puts pressure on a “resistive” screen).
- Using a mobile device all day long can become a strain, and as such, ergonomics becomes a major factor; consumer-grade devices do not boast ergonomically-designed elements the way purpose-built mobile warehouse devices do, such as a mobile computer with a pistol grip.
Warehouse Insight from Insight Works packs all the features you need in the warehouse environment, and then some, allowing you to easily configure views and menus on more rugged handheld devices. Have you been looking to streamline your warehouse operations? Look no further than Warehouse Insight, the ultimate solution for making sure software matches your physical processes – without having to resort to coding and customizations.
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