The pressure on supply chains shows little sign of letting up, and choosing the right mobile device can help ensure the survivability of a business and provide the visibility it needs to stay on top of the game.
Reliable mobile devices have never been more critical in the world of transportation, logistics and supply chains. Their role is not always obvious, but they allow for visibility over operations and the vital role in communication. Without them, those operations run the risk of collapse.
According to a study into the role of mobile solutions within the transport and logistics space by VDC Research, each mobile device failure costs frontline workers more than 70 minutes of productivity. In parallel, I.T. workers spend an average of 63 minutes attending to each incident.
That is more than we can afford. On the surface, markets around the world are returning to a semblance of business as usual. But the effects of the pandemic have already stretched many organizations to the max. Those in transport and logistics face a shortage of labor and components, along with shipping capacity constraints and rising costs. They are becoming less competitive at a time when they need to be especially so. The situation creates a pressing need for data logging and software and hardware integration. But the ability to connect mobile workers and ensure a smooth flow of goods is only as robust as the devices themselves.
Computing devices that are highly compatible with software and have stable connectivity no matter the location lead to a streamlined workflow. Additionally, mobile rugged devices help workers with real-time data which can also minimize errors immediately.
We continue to live through difficult times, but customers have not tempered their expectations. If anything, the shift to remote consumption has made them more demanding. Rugged, dependable devices help ensure an organization does not let its customers down by supporting frontline workers with real-time tracking, condition-based monitoring and insights to enable instantaneous decision making and optimize performance.
In warehousing and distribution, which is grappling with increasing volumes and shorter turnaround times, workers depend on a range of mobile solutions, ranging from wearable to hands-free, handheld computers and tablets. When integrated with warehouse management systems, for instance, a rugged computing solution makes it easy to capture and preserve data.
Demand is rising for large display tablets to support operations based on data visualization such as load planning. Tablets are also proving a flexible alternative to terminals for forklift applications, while location-aware mobile solutions help prevent accidents in a crowded, fast-moving space.
Delivery services are seeing the rise of mobile-enabled truck connectivity as well as driver and inventory optimization. Real-time navigation is helping organizations cut fuel cost – a major current concern – and avoid accidents. While real-time fleet management helps monitor environmental conditions such as temperature and humidity, which can affect goods in transit.
Again, the data visualization inherent in these trends will expand the market for larger tablets.
Form factor and functionality for mobile solutions inevitably varies given the diverse nature of work across transportation, logistics and supply chains. There are however some consistent considerations.
A mobile device must maximize operational uptime and be rugged enough to withstand extreme temperatures, excessive vibration and impact. Its battery must also go the distance: 35% of VDC’s survey respondents say that batteries give out during a shift. While battery quality is the main factor, it is also important to monitor battery health over time to avoid costly outages.
Lastly, security: mobile platforms have a broad attack surface, and an organization must be able to remotely lock down and wipe a device. Rugged devices that offer a robust suite of security features, such as fingerprint readers, smartcards, RFID readers and facial recognition solutions, can significantly improve data security and peace of mind.
Employing the right rugged mobile device for a given task is becoming a business imperative. Whatever the future may hold, doing so will set an organization off on the right foot by helping them to better manage their workforce and assets from inventory to space to delivery fleets. In a world that has never been less predictable, every additional inch of visibility is a major advantage.
Ken Teese is Director of Sales at Getac.
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