First it won accolades as the next killer consumer device. Then it slipped into the backpacks and briefcases of white-collar information workers, and in some cases it's becoming a corporate-sanctioned alternative to the laptop.
Now the Apple iPad - and, to a lesser extent, emerging competitors in the burgeoning tablet market - are starting to pop up on the plant floor and in distribution centers and warehouses, promising to wring efficiencies and cost savings out of industrial operations by offering mobility and real-time data visibility to workers in manufacturing.
"When Apple created the iPad, the [manufacturing] industry had a sort of wake-up call ... that mobility is not only relevant for people outside the company, but also for those inside the company who have information needs and are not tied to their desk, but are tied to their asset," says Pierfrancesco Manenti, a manufacturing analyst at IDC Insights.
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