Solving The Biggest Warehouse Management Problems with Rugged Mobile Technology

With the right tools and mobile tech, warehouse management becomes more productive, efficient, and accurate.

Warehouses are the unsung heroes of facilitating today’s in-demand consumer expectations, especially as e-commerce fulfillment increases throughout the holiday season. Warehouse and distribution center employees, however, can only move product as quickly and accurately as warehouse procedures support. Additionally, customers must have the ability to trace and account for all ordered items online. Minor missteps on warehouse floors can cause major and negative impacts on the supply chain.

Given the demand for efficient warehouse procedures across multiple industries, it’s imperative for warehouse management to consistently ensure accuracy, visibility, and real-time customer service. To achieve this, warehouse managers need the right tools and strategies to battle the biggest, and most common, warehouse management obstacles.

The Top Warehouse Management Problems

Physical Tickets Create Redundancy

When warehouse employees rely on a physical ticket that passed through multiple hands, rather than a stagnant barcode, to track a product, efficiency is greatly reduced. Barcode technology combats the problem by creating an automated up-to-date system to identify and track inventory, regardless of whether that product is in the hands of a picker, checker, stager, or loader.

The TC8000 Touch Computer from Zebra, for instance, boosts warehouse worker productivity by creating an automated barcode scanning system that decreases hands-on management and improves inventory accuracy. A special functionality of the TC8000 is its minimized ’tilt and verify’ motion with four advanced scanner options that guarantee to capture barcodes regardless of their condition. The touch computer’s groundbreaking proximity scanning feature also allows workers to choose how they want to scan, whether that’s wearing it in a hip holster, on a shoulder strap, or cradles in a desktop mount.

Difficulties Streamlining Inventory Management

Along with the common issues of redundant processes discussed above, not leveraging technology often results in inaccurate receipts, purchase orders, and inventory tracking. ASN (advance shipping notice) verification and labeling ensure all incoming materials are barcoded, so all products and items are ready for scanning. The RuggedJet RJ4030 Label Printer from Brother, for example, are fast, with print speeds up to 5ips, and support for major linear and 2D barcodes.

Without an automated system for managing and tracking inventory, it’s unclear to companies what they have in stock, which can lead to unexpected shortages or excess inventory. Barcode technology creates a clearer, more accurate picture of available inventory.

These streamlines in inventory management with the support of rugged technology also creates a better customer experience. Wireless LAN (local area network) allows customers to gain real-time access to the status of an order, whether it’s on its way or being returned. This means that returns are more quickly updated and validated for repair or issuing customer credit.  

Forklift Operators Lack Mobility

An important aspect of warehouse space and organization is ensuring workers are empowered to do their jobs as efficiently and productively as possible. Forklifts are often the culprit of poor mobility within warehouses. One of the main factors driving this is a lack of mobility for operators, who usually rely on technology that’s unable to be moved from dashboards.

The Getac F110 is a fully rugged tablet featuring built-in WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0, so workers can stay connected. Hot-swappable batteries make for endless power supply without the need to shut down applications. This fully rugged mobile device also has a 3-year bumper-to-bumper warranty, meaning a one-time investment in this advanced tech will save potential repair costs in the future.

If you’re looking for rugged mobile devices to outfit your warehouse workers, contact us for guidance on determining the best devices and accessories.

How In-Vehicle Technology is Driving Changes in Policing

The in-vehicle connectivity from mobile gateways and routers changes, and improves, how police officers communicate and respond to situations.

Historically, policing has evolved as officers have taken advantage of new technologies. In-vehicle connectivity, which supports machine-to-machine communications and connected devices, is the most recent technology to drive changes amongst police forces. The connectivity leveraged via in-vehicle gateways and routers allows for multiple wireless devices to gain access to first-response specific applications.

Though law enforcement can expect a myriad of benefits from this advanced connectivity, we’ve broken down a few applications most useful while in the field and driving the most change amongst police officers.

Field-Enhancing Applications for Mobile Gateways and Routers

Consolidated, Reliable Connectivity Creates a Mobile Law Enforcement Ecosystem

When law enforcement can easily communicate and access information, they’re able to work much more efficiently and collaboratively. By leveraging the applications of mobile connectivity, multiple devices can communicate important, specialized information.

Additionally, when a police officer is engaging with or approaching an individual, giving nearby officers and dispatchers a literal play-by-play just isn’t realistic. The connectivity from gateways and routers solves that by tracking devices and sending appropriate signals to keep all necessary parties updated. If a police officer leaves her car and walks towards a pulled over car, for instance, GPS in her badge can indicate to dispatchers that she’s left her vehicle. This allows them to monitor her activity in case she requires back up.

When all devices are connected, an ecosystem forms where mobile law enforcement can work together in new and advanced ways.

Quick Access to Driver, Vehicle, and Criminal Records Affects How an Officer Proceeds

Reliable and fast access to records can take the guessing work out of knowing who an officer is about to approach. This allows them to make more data-based decisions in the moment—when it matters most. In the field, a lot can happen in a very small amount of time. Being armed with key knowledge makes for increased safety and better decision making.

Video Surveillance Provides Proof of Events

More and more police officers are beginning to rely on video surveillance, whether it’s in-vehicle or body-worn. This is imperative for avoiding any confusion or resolving any disputes regarding the details of an event, from road incidents to approaching and engaging with a civilian. Aside from resolving disputes, these cameras can also record and collect evidence initially missed during an incident. Video surveillance is a win-win for law enforcement and citizens alike.

Harnessing Mobile Gateways and Routers

Law enforcement agencies can install routers and gateways in police vehicles to provide advanced capabilities for teams to not just communicate more efficiently and gain access to data quickly but to ultimately focus on the situation at hand. Clear timelines and triggered alerts allow for officers to respond faster and reflect on situations more accurately.

Importantly, this connectivity doesn’t change the nature of policing, it just makes it better. When officers are able to seamlessly communicate with dispatchers and others in the field, and easily access critical information, they benefit from increased responsiveness, more transparency, improved data-based decision making, more accountability, better morale, and more accurate and faster arrest rates.

From Enterprise to the Small-Medium Businesses: Meeting the Demands of a Mobile Workforce

Meeting the demands of the mobile workforce is more important than ever. Group Mobile understands the unique complexity for successful deployment.

Today’s mobile workforce relies on the versatility, reliability, and security of their devices. Employers from all over the globe recognize that a job or project can be easily thwarted by a technical issue that can cause many hours, even days of delays. In the current mobile economy, it is now more important than ever to have a mobile device that can be relied upon in every situation and environment.

Versatility

A mobile worker needs a versatile device that will perform whenever and wherever it is called upon, no matter what the conditions are. Take the Getac V110 for example: it is compact and lightweight, yet easily converts from an 11.6-inch notebook to a tablet computer. It passes the MIL-STD-810G and IP65 rugged rating, which is a rigorous round of tests that ensure the device will hold up under extreme conditions. The last thing you need is a little bit of rain to cause your tablet to malfunction! With a versatile rugged device, you don’t have to take the environment into consideration, it will perform when you need it, where you need it.

As an employer, it is vital to know that your mobile employees have the right equipment for the job. An often-overlooked piece of equipment that can be just as vital to the success of the job as a rugged device is a reliable printer. Printers and scanners by Brother Mobile Solutions have been designed to meet the specific and complex needs of the mobile workforce. They are extremely durable, robust, and pair easily with rugged tablets and devices. Printing on the go has never been easier.

Connectivity

The mobile workforce knows that wireless connectivity is a key element in job performance, so it is often mission critical to have a strong and reliable signal for your rugged device. At an office, a router is typically stored in a closet to sit peacefully and untouched. That isn’t the case with a mobile worker who needs a strong connection from their vehicle.

A quality router and gateway will extend the secure broadband connectivity for in-vehicle applications. Unlike the router that sits untouched in the closet, the rugged routers and gateways from Sierra Wireless are built to withstand the shock and vibrations from your vehicle. They meet the same MIL-STD-810G tests the rugged tablets meet so you can rely on having connectivity, no matter how harsh driving conditions are.

Security

Security is just as important to the mobile worker as a good rugged device. Having an IT department that is specially trained for secure and rugged connectivity to meet the demands of the job is vital to the success of the mobile workforce. Group Mobile is a “one-stop-shop”, end-to-end solution provider to meet your specific needs. Group Mobile understands that rolling out mobile technology is a very complex project, unique to each business, and requires very detailed planning for successful deployment. Group Mobile has worked through dozens of worldwide mobile deployments for small, medium, and large-scale organizations (exceeding 10,000 mobile workers). A mobile workforce of any size can feel confident knowing that Group Mobile has the right experience, tools, and skills necessary to create a secure, reliable, and versatile mobile work environment.

A Review of the New Getac EX80 Fully Rugged Tablet

Certified for use in hazardous and explosive environments, the EX80 is built to withstand the harshest conditions.

The new Getac EX80 tablet is fully rugged, MIL-STD 810G, ATEX / IECEx Zone 0, and IP67 certified for use in hazardous and potentially explosive work environments. Suffice to say, this tablet was built tough. Designed for a variety of hazardous spaces, workers can rely on this mobile device regardless of the temperature, exposure to debris, and more. The EX80 is intrinsically safe and anti-static, meaning the tablet was designed to keep temperatures low and prevent sparks. This is absolutely paramount for hazardous work environments, where ignitions could be easily caused. An investment in intrinsically safe technology is an investment in safety and injury prevention.

What good is a rugged device if it doesn’t produce a clear and bright screen view? The large 8″ IPS LumiBond® 2.0 sunlight readable display showcases crisp colors, strong contrast, and easy readability. The display glass is bonded to the touch panel and LCD for optimal durability, readability, and touch functionality. Unlike typical mobile devices, the touchscreen responds to gloved hands and pens, even when there’s moisture. This makes the EX80 ideal for capturing signatures, taking precise notes, filling out forms. The best part? Just like the shell of the device, the screen is incredibly durable.

In the case of the EX80, ruggedness does not equate to bulk. The ergonomic design makes it comfortable to hold in one hand, a rotatable hand strap makes for convenient carrying, and the mounting options allow workers to set up the tablet for many different usage scenarios. It weighs a mere 3.26 lbs. Useful proponents built into the EX80, like an HD webcam, 8 MP camera with autofocus and LED flash, make for convenient data/video capture and video conferencing. This is especially useful when field training.

With thoughtful details like this, workers can focus on the task at hand. The EX80 mobile device simply serves as an extension of a mobile workforce, rather than a faulty obstacle standing in their way. Hazardous environments can be unpredictable—rugged technology isn’t. The ruggedness of this tablet protects the screen, webcam, and overall tablet from drops, spills, shocks, salt-fog, vibrations, and more.   

Speaking of reliability, the EX80 offers seamless connectivity for the most important technologies, like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS. There’s also an option for 4G LTE for exceptional coverage and download/upload speed times. None of this comes at the cost of battery life, either. This tablets superior battery runtime ensures over eight hours of battery life from a single charge. Charging docks are included with the purchase of the EX80.

The Getax EX80 fully rugged tablet includes a three-year bumper-to-bumper warranty standard. Contact us for more information about the EX80. We can discuss whether this rugged mobile tablet might be the best solution for you and your team.  

The Real Cost of Broken Mobile Technology

Today’s mobile workforce relies on mobile technology more than ever before. Professionals ranging from those in manufacturing to the medical field to first responders leverage technology for almost every aspect of their job. The failure of mobile devices can render extremely negative, if not catastrophic, effects on their ability to perform at the highest levels. Given the typical high stakes of such work, it’s imperative mobile workers have reliable devices capable of operating all the necessary applications and software. That’s why many mobile professionals invest in rugged mobile technology, which boasts a longer lifespan and increased durability.

While rugged technology typically costs more upfront than traditional mobile technology, the guaranteed longevity actually saves money in the long run. In fact, when traditional mobile technology breaks, it proves incredibly expensive. The IDC recently released a white paper Pay Now, Save Later: The Business Case for Rugged Devices, which breaks down just how much it costs when traditional tech breaks. We’ve rounded up the biggest takeaways from this research:

Average Cost of Repairs for Traditional Mobile Technology is Sky High

Phones drop, laptops are rattled, and tablets are exposed to potentially-damaging elements. Whereas these types of snafus occur with technology in our everyday lives, traditional mobile devices are even more susceptible to damage in the field or on the clock for mobile workers. And repairs for these types of damages add up really fast: the average repair cost for a laptop is $3,411, $2,464 for tablets, and $3,087 for handheld devices.

Company Devices Break a Lot

Research shows that laptops which are five years and older have a failure rate of 61%, while 11% of devices fail in the first year, nearly doubling by year five. Most of these failures are due to factors mobile workers simply have no control over, including exposure to dust and dirt, as well as accidental drops. Asking a police officer or construction worker to absolutely never accidentally drop or bang a device is simply unrealistic.

Broken Tech Leads to Decreased Productivity

There’s an average of 5.8 hours lost for employee productivity due to repairs, and this can extend to as much as two days lost for more than 18% of companies. Losses in productivity for mobile workers often leave much more than money hanging by the thread, but lives, too. First responders require technology like GPS, seamless communication, and more to arrive at scenes of emergency as quickly as possible, and often can’t afford for their technology to malfunction.

Rugged Mobile Devices Pay for Themselves

Rugged tech lasts longer, plain and simple. The increased durability means fewer breaks and higher productivity, withstanding drops, rattles, spills, dust, and exposure to extreme temperatures and altitudes. Group Mobile offers warranties on parts and labor for rugged mobile devices, such as handhelds, laptops, and tablets.

Rugged technology not only outlasts traditional mobile devices but actually costs less over time. Mobile workers need devices they can depend on to continuously work, regardless of the conditions. Rugged devices are built to withstand harsh atmospheres, while also operating at the highest level with the latest technologies.

If you’re looking for rugged mobile devices to outfit your mobile workers, contact us for guidance on determining the best devices, programs, and accessories.

The Impact of Mobile Technologies in Large-Scale Manufacturing

Mobile solutions for large-scale manufacturing ensures reliable, continuous access to critical industrial applications—whenever and wherever you need it.

The results of large-scale manufacturing are, in large part, what moves science and technology forward. Such work launches us into space, improves the efficiency of producing high-quality goods, determines the means in which we travel, and much more. Forward-thinking industries require forward-thinking technology. The devices we rely on in every-day life or traditional work environments don’t stand up against the often harsh conditions of construction and manufacturing sites. Rugged mobile devices, like handheld PCs and mobile tablets, ensure engineers, product managers, and other workers have access to critical industrial applications regardless of the environment.

Top Features for Manufacturing Rugged Devices

  • Suitable for extreme temperature fluctuations
  • Withstands drops and powerful vibrations
  • Exposure to dust won’t cause damage
  • Corrosion protection

Best Rugged Mobile Devices for Large-Scale Manufacturing Sites

Handhelds

Ideal for optimal mobility, the Getac PS336 is compact enough to operate in one hand. This fully rugged handheld PC was built with the toughest working conditions in mind. Exposure to dust, water, extreme temperatures, altitude, humidity, and vibrations/shock won’t affect this mobile device. These devices, however, need to do more than just survive harsh environments—they need to function at the highest levels regardless.

Standard qualities of the PS336 include:

  • Embedded Windows® operating system
  • TI AM3715 1GHz processor
  • 512MB MDDR, 256MB NAND Flash and 8GB iNAND storage and memory
  • 3.5” VGA (480 x 640 pixel) and sunlight readable display
  • Pressure sensitive touchscreen

Tablets

When thinking about rugged tablets, it’s easy to imagine something bulky, heavy, and overall awkward to carry around. The Getac F110, however, is known for its super compact design (it’s less than 1 inch thick) and lighter weight (weighs 3 pounds). This large-screen tablet makes it easy to operate necessary industrial applications on the manufacturing plant floor. Like other rugged devices, this tablet is durable against dirt, water, motion, vibrations, and other typically damaging factors.

Standard qualities of the F110 include:

  • Intel Core i5-6200U 2.4GHz processor
  • 4GB DDR3 memory
  • OPAL 2.0 128GB solid state drive
  • 11.6″ TFT LCD HD (1366 x 768) and sunlight readable display

Laptops

The Getac S410 semi-rugged laptop is ideal for engineers and field service professionals who require a mobile digital notebook that can withstand a rigorous daily routine while still performing at the highest level. Not only is this lightweight device durable, but it also offers flexibility and security. Bluetooth and a long-lasting battery life ensure the S410 is convenient to use throughout the workday.

Standard qualities of the S410 include:

  • Intel Core i3-7100U 2.4GHz processor with 3MB Intel® Smart Cache
  • 4GB DDR4 memory
  • 500GB Hard Disk Drive
  • 14″ HD (1366 x 768) TFT LCD display

Proven Durability

The above featured rugged mobile devices are tested using the MIL-STD (military standard) methods, which cover a wide range of environmental factors, from the ability to withstand extreme temperatures to durability against drops. Depending on the environment you work in, you can choose devices rated at levels to survive and optimally perform for your needs.

Contact us to discuss your options, and to help find the best device for your work environment.

Why First Responders Rely on Rugged Computers

Police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical technicians benefit from the durability and functionalities of rugged laptops and tablets in the face of critical situations.

First responders are trained to stay calm and take charge in moments when others are reacting from a state of shock and confusion. The ways in which first responders, like police officers, EMTs, and firefighters, communicate with one another and with dispatchers requires consistent protocol and reliability, often with the understanding that their actions make the difference between life and death. Just as civilians rely on first responders to handle complicated and dangerous situations, those who respond to emergencies rely on effective and durable gear and devices.

Transportability is key, wherein lies the complications of relying on technology not capable of withstanding emergent environments. Rugged computers offer quality solutions to the most common of issues public safety professionals face when utilizing technology in the field. The longevity of rugged computers ensures dependability, and has the potential to save first response teams money in the long run.

Here are the top reasons emergency personnel depend on rugged laptops and tablets:

Durability

Seemingly the most obvious benefit of rugged computers is that they are, in fact, rugged. First response teams are working in fast-paced environments where the possibility of dropping a computer is higher than usual. The reality of exposing a laptop or tablet to typically damaging substances for technology is also likely. Rugged tablets, like the Xplore XSLATE B10, are engineered to withstand five feet drops on the hardest of surfaces, vehicle vibrations, and exposure to heavy rain and blowing sand. Backlit keyboards and bright screens make it easier for users to see clearly, despite weather or debris.

Whether public safety professionals choose to mount computers in emergency vehicles, or carry them on-site, they can work without worry of damaging the technology they turn to.

Data Storage and Management

Rugged computers allow firefighters, emergency medical technicians, and police officers to easily access records for pertinent information in the face of an emergency. It also enables these responders to document occurrences in real time or right after the fact in a space that can be instantly accessed by other relevant individuals. Rugged tablets and laptops are capable of large storage, and are built to protect important data in demanding conditions.

Reliable Communication and Connectivity

Whereas most people have come to take groundbreaking technology, like GPS, for granted, first responders utilize these tools for uninterrupted communication and reliable connectivity to get where they need to go as quickly as possible, and to ensure they have the critical information necessary to operate in accordance with other public safety professionals in any given situation.

Rugged computers typically have an integrated GPS receiver to determine the most efficient route to an incident, Bluetooth® for hands free functionality, and reliable WiFi for ongoing connectivity. Another impressive feature is lengthy battery life, often staying powered for eight hours at a time.

Useful Tools for Various Applications

Many rugged computers have a variety of options for integrated tools and applications. Different public safety factions can benefit from specific capabilities, like fingerprint scanners, Bluetooth, and real-time data transfer, to help them best perform their duties in the face of dangerous events. The Xplore XSLATE B10, for instance, comes with the standard USB 3.0 and micro SIM card reader, but has upgrade options like a 1D/2D scanner.

If you’re looking for rugged computers and solutions to outfit your team of first responders, contact us for guidance on determining laptop versus tablet, the most suitable applications, and useful accessories.