10 Facts about the Cruise 1 Rugged Smartphone That Will Amaze you! Calling mobile workers in all marketplaces here are 10 facts about the Cruise 1 Rugged Smartphone logistics, transport, shipping…! Ever wondered how much easier it would be to work with your own personal smartphone? The latest addition to the MobileWorxs array of handheld […]
Life Span of Mobile Devices
A software house develops an application for a 7″ tablet computer. The users want a cheap reliable tablet and a tablet is sourced. The problem lies in the word “cheap”. A cheap tablet can still be somewhat reliable depending on use and with the hundreds of budget tablets flooding the market there will be some.
A cheap tablet means a consumer grade tablet, and with consumer grade items means a limited product life span. Technology is quickly progressing in the tablet and smartphone markets. Upgraded processors are regularly released and internal parts like cameras, NFC, storage, speakers frequently upgraded.
How Long Will My Device Be Available ?
Manufacturers of consumer devices make no commitment to the lifespan of a product. Take for iPhone 6 & 6s for example. Images and specs of the iPhone 7 were leaked soon after the 6 was released. A manufacturer will deem the product a viable option in the consumer marketplace until competition means the unit will need to upgraded or replaced. This could be a 1 year cycle, sometime more, sometimes less.
Enterprise grade mobile devices look at this issue from the other side. Devices are built for a purpose be it warehouse scanning, field service or another vertical. Maintenance contracts can be bought for the units extending their lifespan, plus spares will be available for several years afterwards.
Whereas consumer units are usually on break and replace pair, enterprise units are based on a break fix repair. And that cycle is getting shorter and shorter.
Touching on the software briefly, if a device is changed it is possible the software will need to be altered. Customers are less likely to remain loyal should they need to buy a new tablet each year to continue using the software.
Selecting a cheap tablet has its advantages for cost, there are better alternatives to ensure long term solutions.
How Hazardous Area Mobile Computing Boosts Productivity
A guest blog by Mike Davies UK Marketing Manager at ecom instruments.
Recent innovations in the field of hazardous area mobile computing technology has enabled mobile workers to automate a much wider range of tasks than ever previously possible. In sectors such as oil and gas, biochemical, pharmaceutical manufacturing and other process industries using mobile computing to improve the productivity of workers is key.
How can you boost productivity by taking advantage of this new technology?
The ability to record data on a portable device has made paper-based inspections obsolete, allowing for a greater degree of accuracy efficiency and productivity. Using of an intrinsically safe ATEX Zone 1 certified i.roc Ci70-Ex, workers can remain fully connected while in the field. Built in imaging functionality can help record data and immediately upload it into specific mobile line of business apps and integrate with host systems such as Maximo or SAP.
Rather than waiting until the end of the day to find out the status of key assets mobile workers can also use this technology to communicate data with colleagues in an instant over Wi-Fi or WWAN thus improving the visibility of results around repairs or adjustments. Workers can also communicate with each other using VoIP to stay in touch with each other throughout the day on large sites.
The development of hazardous area mobile computing technology has given mobile workers the ability to focus on the task-in-hand at all times and not have to spend time manually uploading data at the end of each day thereby offering a significant boost in productivity.
With hazardous area mobile computing devices, you can significantly boost the productivity of your workforce and allow them to complete a much wider range of tasks while on the move.
Now You Can Add GPS To The Motorola MC9090 and MC9190
The Motorola MC9000 series has been amongst the most popular devices in the enterprise mobility market and many are still in use in a variety of industries. As units like this are being used longer before being replaced it is worth knowing that you can add GPS to the Motorola MC9090 and MC9190
Unlike most contemporary units neither of these had GPS built in which makes the OrbitGPS G3090 a cost effective GPS enhancement to legacy deployments returning a great return on investment ROI.
These units are ideal where the user is predominantly on foot and not looking to return the unit to a vehicle or desk cradle.
The receiver is designed to snap on to the bottom of the mobile computer to provide GPS position information to applications running on the device. The GPS receiver features a rugged plastic housing that attaches using the device’s serial connector for communication and power.
The G3090 GPS receiver has been tested for compatibility with all the Microsoft Windows Mobile operating systems used on the MC9090 and MC9190 products. The computer can be charged through the attachment with a standard dock charger.
Outputs of GPS information are in industry standard NMEA sentences which are compatible with most GPS software applications. It can also be configured to output GPS information in the SiRF Binary format. The G3090 offers typical accuracies of 3-5 meters uncorrected and 3 meters or better with Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) correction.
The G3090 is tested to comply with FCC and CE standards.
Motorola Solutions Launch MC40 for Retail Enterprise Mobility
The availability of Android based devices for line of business applications continues as Motorola launch the MC40 for retail enterprise mobility.
MC40 comes with a 4.1″ 300 NIT capacitive screen running Android 2.3 and all the other bells and whistles we have already learnt to expect from a device in this category
Options include a Magnetic Stripe Reader and an interesting assortment of charging accessories and cradles.
It is also available in various groovy colours !
Check out the MC40 Specification Sheet for complete details.
What is it For ?
Motorola Solutions have been talking about this unit for sometime so no surprise that they chose the NRF retail exhibition in New York to introduce it as:
“MC40 is the first multi-purpose mobile computer for retail that incorporates inventory management with collaboration and line busting mobile point-of-sale (mPOS) capabilities in a compelling form factor”
MC40 Appeal Beyond Retail
It is likely that this category of product will start to be seen a lot more in enterprise mobility projects outside the retail as major projects are already asking for Android based rugged handhelds. Users will easily adopt this form factor as it has become so familiar in the consumer area. The MC40 comes with a relatively high list price but do not expect huge discounts unless you have a huge order to place.
Other than Android why else will it appeal to projects outside retail:
- Product Longevity – likely to be a lot longer in production than consumer brands which helps make sense of managing the life cycle of a large deployment.
- Built for High Frequency use – the enterprise mobility manufacturers know a thing or two about building rugged products that will see many bumps drops and scrapes.
- Break Fix and Total Cost of Ownership – Having a rugged handheld in the field is in part based on the premise that in the event of a fault the facility exists to repair it rather than send it for scrap. Manufacturers like Motorola have a lot of their business invested in repair services so expect this to be a big TCO value added dimension for the MC40.
- Accessories – I know boring! but having docking cradles spare battery chargers etc can really make all the difference to the usability of any mobile computer.
- Like the X1 and the 70e the MC40 could be susceptible to theft so best to revise employee procedures and load up with MDM software.
- Bring Your Own Device – The MC40 will make an attractive 3 Year BYOD bundle when combined with finance, support airtime and a process specific app.
MobileWorxs can help you navigate your way through the device selection process and help you deliver an enterprise mobility project that adds value to your business.
Charging your Rugged Handheld or Rugged Tablet PC
You now have the perfect rugged handheld or rugged tablet pc and a great app from MobileWorxs and you venture off into the field. But how long will the battery last and how can you ensure it will stay charged? Charging your Rugged Handheld or Rugged Tablet PC is a real consideration for an enterprise mobile deployment.
Not surprisingly battery life of any unit varies depending how long the device is used for in total. If a device has no rest period and is in constant use with scanning 3G or Wi-Fi then expect the battery life to be limited. Compared to a user who uses a device for 20 minutes at a time on site and places the device on standby during travelling, his device would last all day. Lithium Ion batteries power most rugged handheld and tablet PC devices, and yes they do wear out so budget for new ones after about 2 years.
If device usage is going to be high the first consideration is to opt for high capacity batteries which are not hugely expensive. This can add half again to standard battery life. The next pointer does the unit accept dual batteries? This means a device has 2 batteries which can be separately changed while the device is turned on. When one battery is low the other is in use. It also means your unsaved work isn’t lost as with a hot swap feature there is no need to power down to swap a battery.
Be assured that even units with a single battery do have small internal backup batteries for saving apps and system settings just like a phone.
Charging Options – On Desk
Most rugged devices have accessories for office charging. These can be:
Docks/cradles which may have extra slots to charge spare batteries as well as ports for connecting USB serial devices and external screens.
Or just plain battery chargers. Depending how many devices and therefore batteries you intend to deploy a multi battery charger may be an option worth investigating. Also be sure to figure out where these desk docks or chargers are going to go. Space can be tight in many back of store retail or depot offices so putting up some dedicated racking and installing power sockets will help keep the whole thing looking like some thought has gone into the deployment.
Charging Options – In Vehicle
Vehicle chargers, have the ability to charge a unit in a vehicle on the move. The power source can generally be wired into the vehicle mains or through a cigarette lighter adaptor. There are a number of varying ruggedized vehicle docks, which some can cope with many more device cycles. Again these docks have additional ports allowing for a GPS unit for tracking, or connecting to a external WWAN stick.
If a device is operating apps such as Sat Nav then charging is a must. It is also a requirement in most countries to have the device permanently fixed whilst the vehicle is in motion.
The cost of a vehicle dock can sometimes seem expensive, but no where near as much as a new unit, or repair especially if the device ends up being thrown in the foot well after each use !
Otherwise is in vehicle charging required? Just carry a spare battery? This is a cheaper option if your charging dock has a space for a spare battery to be charged simultaneously.
Charging your Rugged Handheld or Rugged Tablet PC – Key Points
- If your device will see 6-8+ hours constant use then additional battery capacity should be a high consideration.
- Bear in mind that in many cases chargers docks and cradles are often not compatible across products – even from the same manufacturer. Strange but true !
We can help you navigate your way through this and many other snags that may arise during your enterprise mobility project.
Mobile Enterprise Magazine Five Reasons to Choose Rugged Over Consumer Devices
Guest Blog by By Kelly Harris, Business Development Manager at Barcoding, Inc.
Consumer and rugged devices serve different purposes and different markets. An article published in Mobile Enterprise magazine cites five reasons to choose rugged over consumer devices and talks about how line of business devices are still preferable for many people in field based industries.
First major consideration Windows .NET is a more consistent platform than iOS, Android or Blackberry for long term projects that require task-specific software.
Second, Rugged devices offer ease of use — not just for the end user, but also for security, initial deployment, compliance and ongoing support personnel. Third, calculating Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) reveals that IP65 enabled rugged devices can be much less expensive in the long run. Rugged devices also offer more flexibility in terms of carrier contracts and service pricing
Finally, rugged mobile devices support multiple functions and necessary accessories for a wide range of field tasks and have the long battery life to sustain this all-in-one solution.
Andrew has worked on some of the largest Enterprise Mobility projects in the UK Eastern Europe the Middle East and Africa. He has user and project experience in helping companies think through and develop mobile strategies to get the most out of a deployment.
Mobile Printing in Enterprise Mobility Applications
When developing a project for your remote workers one consideration is how to incorporate mobile printing in enterprise mobility applications in the first place. Is there a need to print a receipt or report for the customer contact on site? There is a big choice of rugged mobile printers all of which provide different features and most importantly can print the correct label receipt or report you require.
Most people new to the enterprise mobile apps tend to think of having to carry a huge heavy printer. In fact mobile printers can be very small like the Zebra P4T clipping onto a belt or on a shoulder strap. They can also be very large printer fixed to the inside door of a van. It all depends on the size of label receipt you want to print.
One big question to ask is does a receipt or report need to be printed on site? For this scenario think of a civil enforcement officers Fixed Penalty Notice application when the vehicle or person in question must be issued a ticket on the spot. Otherwise if you have the customers email details why not just email a .PDF. In some cases a print at the point of service is not a definite requirement such as for parcel delivery companies who handle all documentation via email or online.
Two main types of Wireless Mobile Printer Technology
1. Thermal transfer has two main components. It uses a carbon ribbon, using heat to “transfer” the carbon onto the media (the receipt or label). The results on the printout are much crisper than the Direct Thermal but it does mean costs a greater as you’ll need to buy new ribbons and new media.
2. Direct Thermal printer uses carbon coated receipts/labels, again using heat, but this time to score an image into the media. There is only one major cost for this – buying media. The heated print head does wear out eventually as you’d expect, but it can last the life of the printer is most uses.
Both have their advantages and disadvantages. If labels/receipts are required to be hard wearing, scratch resistant, print high quality images i.e. 2D bar codes, long shelf life or in direct sunlight then Thermal Transfer is the best option. If basic layouts need to be printed, stored in plastic wallets or out of sunlight, only required for short periods, then Direct Thermal is the way to go.
Mobile Printing Media
“It all starts with the label…. “There are numerous types of media available – ranging from the very glossy, very hard wearing to the basic till receipts you get at most stores. They are available in almost every size you can think of and can be provided with pre-printed text on one side. Very useful for store return policies or payment details for a parking fine.
Wireless Mobile Printers for Direct Store Delivery and Van Sales
Impact printing is not used a great deal in many enterprise mobility projects other than route accounting or direct store delivery as it is called in some markets. Here the requirement is to print a full page receipt in some cases with multi part paper. Most of the above considerations still ring true – but what to use? An office printer would not be rugged enough. As far as we know Intermec are still building the 6822 a behemoth of a printer but very well suited to this environment.
Communicating with mobile printers is done in one of three ways; Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and Direct Cable.
- Bluetooth. Ideal for ad-hoc connections in the field, does not rely on anything else, can limited by distance and not considered the most stable connection. But this is the most popular choice for mobile printers.
- Wi-Fi. Fast, stable, but does require the device and printer both to be in Wi-Fi signal range.
- Cable connection. A direct cable connection from device to printer. This is the most reliable option but also the must inconvenient if you need to disconnect from time to time, and means something else to carry.
But defining communication medium is only half of it. The next part of the challenge is to get the printer to print the label exactly how you want it with all images/bar codes etc. For a device to talk with a printer it has to do so via the printer interface. Each manufacture has their own printer language at this point. Zebra uses ZPL (Zebra Printer Language), Intermec Printers use IPL (Intermec Printer Language), and so on.
Print commands in each of these languages can be a bit of a challenge. Most printers also have a line print option, and depending on the software can essentially print a complete printer layout that resides on the PDA device. Whatever option the device must have the drivers locally installed to communicate with the printer.
New printers on the market can now accept .csv files and similar file via print management software tool, or can print directly from notepad. In some cases new printers can call and receive from a web service meaning a device may not even be required. Obviously this has very limited operations.
Finally if carrying an extra piece of kit is a big issue maybe a mobile printer is not required. Alternatives are IP printing back to a printer in to office, PDF generation and email, back office staff printing and posting documents, or online access only for customers.
Mobile Printing in Enterprise Mobility Applications 4 Things to Think About
- Start with the application. Does the customer need a printed “something” at the point of service?
- Media. What sort of material does the receipt or label need to be made of to suit the enviroment?
- Hardware. What sort of wireless mobile printer will suit the process?
- Mobile Application Development. How can you make your rugged handheld or rugged tablet pc generate the right label at the right time containing the correct information? On our platform the built in print layout designer takes a lot of the hassle out of cutting code.
Explained: Mobile Device Screen Types
With so many products in the market it can be quite confusing which mobile device screen types to choose from. This blog will cover in plain English the different types available in today’s enterprise mobility and consumer market.
Nearly all mobile devices allow touch, many can also sense a stylus or a pen. Some screens allow two touch zooming in and out, some are super bright, others have a very high resolution screen, or are rugged for impact protection.
The most common two technologies are resistive and capacitive. Resistive allows for both touch and stylus/pen contact. The screen comprises of two layers of which one has an electrical current. When the screen is pressed the layers meet and the X/Y location can be determined. Resistive screens can be damaged if sharp objects can are used, but can also be easily cleaned and resistant to liquid damage.
Resistive technology can be found on almost all enterprise handhelds where to user may require either option, using the stylus when a very accurate screen location is needed or when using gloves.
Capacitive screens allow only touch. This is found on most Android, iOS Smartphones. These screens work with the human body to act as a current. The screen has an electrical current layer, when the finger touches the screen this creates a change in the current therefore fixing the location. One problem is use in cold weather as gloves cannot be used nor a stylus. Most capacitive screens do allow for two touch zooming in and out.
The next part to consider is the screen resolution. Displays are available in QVGA, VGA, XGA, WXGA, AMOLED, Super AMOLED etc. There are lots more. They all provide different resolution figures generally with the higher being sharper and clearer. VGA stands for Video Graphics Array, The X is for Extended, W for Wide, and S for Super. HD is high definition found on most TV sets. The figures are explained:
QVGA: 320 x 240
VGA: 640 x 480
WVGA: 800 x 480
WSVGA: 1024 x 600
XGA: 1024 x 768
WXGA: 1280 x 720 – 1366 x 768
HD: 1280 x 720
Mobile application development design is also an important consideration as the layout needs to be sized to meet the resolution and text enlarged where appropriate. If you have a pool of various devices this could mean the application will look too small or large compared to the device the app was originally designed for. If you have a very basic small application a low resolution will be fine running on a PDA/Smartphone. If you have a complex large application and need more data the various mobile screen device types may lead you to a screen with a higher resolution such as found on a rugged tablet pc.
Interested in learning more about using touch screen technology for your enterprise mobile project. Get in touch or evaluate a unit free for 10 days.
Key Benefits Enterprise Mobile Supply Chain Management Software and Hardware
If your business involves moving goods from one destination to another enterprise mobile supply chain management can allow you access to real-time accurate data which can be turned into real efficiencies increased productivity and management of costs.
Keeping track of vehicles stock and paperwork is necessary to ensure a smooth running organisation and responding to customer demand. Tracking so many varied items presents many challenges not least of which is getting material from one location to another whilst coping with the inevitable time lag in getting paper job documents back from the field
So what are the Benefits?
Where a enterprise mobile supply chain management approach can reap benefits is the elimination of paper documents which allows remote workers to free up time to complete more critical tasks. This will help reduce errors and make more sense of managing administration. Specifically speed up back office cycles to do with invoicing delivery reconciliation and problem solving. By spending less time on admin and paperwork your staff can spend more time on adding capacity into your network or new customer facing tasks.
Other wins include:
- Track assets on the road.
- Confirm receipt of delivered goods and be able to show customer a proof of delivery,
- Track fleet movements speed limits and driver behaviour.
- Integration with related business systems leads to greater return on investment ROI for existing technology investments.
- Stock triage – especially stock “lost” in vehicles.
- Win more business by showing prospective clients
Our application development platform can support small businesses from 5 users to enterprise businesses with 1000+ users plus. You end up with custom applications that match your process workflow and are built with no custom programming. We can help you design and deploy your enterprise mobile supply chain management applications to any combination of Android iOS or .NET device including PDA’s, Tablet PCs, laptops and desktop computers. Experience an app.
Your enterprise mobile supply chain management project has got to run to something. This usually starts a huge discussion about which sort of mobile device is suitable for your project and which ones are affordable by your organisation. To help you take the pain out of this process we partner with some of the leading vendors of enterprise mobile grade rugged handheld and rugged tablet devices which come in a number of form factors. Speak to us about trying one of these devices free for 10 days. to run with your existing or new supply chain management apps. Most devices can be leased for less than the price of a cup of coffee per day.