Mobile Devices in a Warehouse: Consumer vs. Rugged

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Mobile Devices in a Warehouse: Consumer vs. Rugged
October 21, 2022

For companies using mid-range warehouse management systems (WMS), with small to medium-sized warehouses, finding the best mobile device – whether rugged or consumer-grade devices – can be a real challenge. Here, UK-based ClarusWMS outlines the differences between the two and how choosing the right device will maximize productivity.

EThe mobile device chosen, whether mainstream or rugged, will determine the return on investment of a mobility strategy. If the wrong device is selected, it could lead to frustrated users, decreased productivity, increased costs, and potentially introduce security risks. However, the right device will not only maximize productivity, but also the efficiency and accuracy of the tasks at hand – in combination with a WMS.

A consumer enterprise mobile device is a smartphone, tablet, or other electronic handheld device that is used for business purposes, but can also be used as a personal device. An example would be a personal smartphone that a manager also uses for business purposes, such as researching inventory data or pulling sales reports. A rugged enterprise mobile device is a smartphone, tablet, or mobile device designed with the rigors of business use in mind.

But what are the main differences between consumer devices and rugged devices? A disadvantage of consumer mobile devices is that operating systems such as Android and iOS, for example, may not include the required business extensions and APIs, resulting in the manual installation of additional components on each potential device. . A rugged enterprise mobile device, on the other hand, might provide a single version, designed specifically for all mobile system needs. Rugged devices also include support for most mobile device management (MDM) solutions, while consumer devices may include security features that make it difficult to centrally provision certain apps.

Regarding security and safety, mobile solutions for consumer devices also have security flaws, as they depend on each individual user to protect the proprietary information accessed and used through the device, which can put a business in danger. On the other hand, a rugged mobile device is usually designed with enterprise-grade security in mind. Multiple users and connections are easy to implement. They will also be less susceptible to hacking, viruses, and other forms of data theft. Rugged devices can also provide additional levels of safety in hazardous areas, such as volatile chemicals. Consumer-grade devices are often not even allowed near these areas.

Rugged devices are tested to withstand shock, vibration, being dropped onto concrete floors, and exposure to dirt, dust, moisture, and chemicals. They are less likely to fail in commercial environments than a consumer device that relies primarily on third-party protection, such as protective screens and cases. While these may be adequate in some situations, consumer devices may have additional repair costs.

Rugged devices are also built with a longer battery life while consumer devices cannot compete on a single charge and lack the option of a swappable battery. To keep mobile devices in use for a full shift, you need two things: a battery with the ability to last, and a removable battery that can be swapped out, instead of taking the device out of service to recharge it. .

Consumer devices are cheaper, it’s true, which is why many companies stick with them, despite all the benefits of more rugged devices. But what companies don’t take into account are failure rates; repair and replacement costs; and “soft costs” such as lost productivity and sales, time spent on technical support, and maintaining the device compared to a rugged device. While consumer devices may be cheaper in the short term, buying rugged mobile handhelds for all warehouse needs could save businesses thousands of pounds in the long run.

Finally, most consumer devices cannot handle the demands of high-volume apps. Rugged devices have faster and more accurate barcode readers; longer battery life; support for multiple wireless networking options; screens that are easy to read in daylight and in the dark; enterprise-level security features; and additional options to support RFID scanning, GPS, and other technologies.

For fast, time-sensitive applications, a camera scanner simply doesn’t work accurately and quickly enough, reducing worker productivity. Consumer devices simply cannot compete as they were designed for much lighter use and different applications.

ClarusWMS is a UK based warehouse management solutions provider with extensive industry experience in third party logistics, wholesale distribution, line fulfillment and manufacturing warehousing.

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