rugged barcode handheld computer

Posted March 1, 2017 / By admin / 0 Comment

Investing in Rugged Barcode Handheld Computers: Are They Worth It?

It pays to increase your warehouse team’s efficiency. Mobile computers boost their productivity, not to mention accurately capture your current inventory levels. But with great efficiency comes great investments. Is it worth investing in rugged devices, or adapting the equipment you already have?

What to consider in your equipment investment

Have you ever purchased a new car? Think about what you’re buying. It’s not just the vehicle itself. You have to consider factors such as insurance, gas, maintenance, and the opportunity cost if you purchased a sedan versus an SUV. Likewise, there’s not just one price tag to look at when investing in barcoding equipment for your facility. The total cost of ownership includes:

  • Device, software, and accessories: Believe it or not, barcode devices aren’t ready for duty the moment you take them out of the box. Each scanner requires software and may need accessories to reach its fullest potential.
  • Maintenance and support: Unlike your toaster, you’ll need to call in an expert when a scanner is on the fritz. Keep in mind costs such as warranties and downtime if the equipment can’t be replaced right away.
  • Operating costs: In order to keep your technology healthy, you need to take a lot of preventative measures. Just like your car’s regular oil changes, your devices need regular software updates to protect them. Also, don’t forget about any hoops you have to jump through to have your devices connected to the network. Not all asset management technology is compatible with all devices.
  • Training time: Introducing new technology to your team requires some ramp up time. It might slow down your process for a few weeks until they’re up to speed on the new handhelds. It’s best to plan for some downtime. Very important: don’t make the switch–unless absolutely necessary–during your busy

Exploring your industrial equipment options

While there are thousands of barcode scanning devices on the market, they fall into three main categories.

1. Heavy duty cases for consumer-grade devices

Trying to kill two birds with one stone? Investing in a durable tablet or phone case may seem like an easy solution to your problem. Cases are relatively inexpensive compared to their barcode scanner counterparts and can handle some wear and tear. In the long run, however, this quick fix may prove to be very expensive.

According to Zebra Technology, companies that purchase heavy duty cases spend an average of 51% more on equipment than those who go with a rugged enterprise solution.

Some problems your team may run into include:

  • Usability: Bulky cases can’t hide what your device really is—a consumer device. While they have an easy to use operating system and can scan barcodes, their effectiveness doesn’t compare to scanners built for this purpose.
  • Repair issues: Cellphones aren’t built like they used to. Nowadays, if one thing goes wrong, it’s easier to replace the whole device than to fix a particular part. Cracked screen or faulty battery? You better put in a purchasing order before the end of your shift.
  • Battery life: Think of the last time you used your phone consistently throughout the day without charging it. We bet that, after just a few hours, your battery life was in the red. Consumer devices have nowhere near the battery power of rugged barcode scanners, and most don’t come with a removable battery pack for hot battery swap.
  • Life expectancy: Your electronics’ days are numbered when they’re used consistently at all hours of the day.
  • Durability: Cases can only do so much to protect your device. Industrial environments aren’t the kindest to fragile devices.

2. Heavy duty case and barcode scanner hybrid

Do you crave the familiarity of a user-friendly interface (e.g. Android) but need the functionality of a enterprise barcode scanner? Companies such as Honeywell have developed a happy medium perfect for small businesses. These heavy-duty cases don’t just protect your phone; they have software that transforms them into rugged tablets and mobile computers.

3. Rugged Barcode Handheld Computers

If you’d like to truly take advantage of all barcoding has to offer your supply chain, investing in rugged barcode devices is the best bet. They thrive in the harshest environments and can withstand an accidental drop of up to 8 feet onto a concrete floor. Besides being so durable, your team has full functionality at their fingertips. These devices not only communicate among themselves, but they also play nicely with your asset management system.

Not sure which option is best for your organization? Our efficiency experts can help. Contact Bar Code Direct today to schedule a free consultation.