Consumer vs. Rugged Devices

November 15, 2013

Have you ever thought about repurposing your consumer devices for business purposes because they are easy-to-use and often less expensive than their rugged counterparts? It’s smart to consider but many times neglecting to invest in a rugged device can be more costly in the long-term. Before investing in a handheld device, you should consider the following.

Your Environment

Consider where the device will be used and what the device may be exposed to. Will the device have to withstand extreme temperatures, water, dust, chemicals or shock?

Rugged handhelds must pass stringent standard tests and rating systems to verify their durability. The tests are designed to replicate some of the environmental stresses a handheld might encounter during deployment in a warehouse or manufacturing plant.

Consumer devices are created for the non-rugged, office environment and do not meet these certifications.

Features and Integration

There are a few important features and integration capabilities to consider. Consumer-grade devices cannot be updated, but some rugged devices are modular, enabling them to grow with your company’s needs. Rugged devices also offer software and hardware development tools that give you the ability to extend functionality and integrate new devices into your current infrastructure.

Also, many rugged devices offer  an extended battery life that can increase overall employee productivity. And if you’re doing real barcode scanning you need a real barcode scanner, the image recognition technology used in a  smartphone is only going to aggravate and slow users down.

Total Cost of Ownership

When comparing your costs you have to consider the intangible costs as well as the tangible costs. Intangible costs include, lost sales, customer service impact, data loss, employee down time, customer satisfaction impact, employee morale, and time wasted to diagnose issues.  Tangible costs to purchase consumer devices may be less in the beginning, but according to a study by VDC Research, it is not unusual for a consumer device to have to be replaced two or even three times before a rugged device would need to be replaced. On average, the lifespan of a commercial device is between 12 and 18 months compared to 7 plus years for good quality rugged devices.

Conclusion

Today’s device must be rugged enough to work around the clock, regardless of the user, the environment or extreme treatment. With businesses and organizations requiring absolute, real-time visibility to information from the field, true information mobility is jeopardized by any computer downtime. The devices ability to endure the rough and tumble environment should be of principal concern.


Choosing the Right Barcode Printer for your Application

November 11, 2013

Thermal printers are rugged, dependable, and support an extensive number of uses. As the computerized tracking of materials and finished goods has increased, thermal printing technology has proven especially well-suited for printing bar code labels and tags.  That makes thermal printers ideal for industry-mandated requirements such as compliance labeling for shipping containers, component/product labeling, chemical labeling, nutritional information, contents identification and regulatory/safety disclosure.

However since these types of printers are different from your typical laser or inkjet printers, it can be a challenge to know which one best fits your business. The first step in finding the right printer is to identify your specific need(s).  You can begin by asking the following 4 questions:

Where will the printer be used?

You need to first take a look at the environment in which the printer will be operated.  If it is a harsh or dirty environment where it will come into contact with dust, chemicals, or frequent temperature fluctuations you are going to need a more rugged and sealed printer than if the printer is being used in a climate controlled office environment.

What kind of media will you make?

Thermal printers can be used to produce labels, tags, wristbands, receipts, tickets and many other forms of media.  Different printer models are designed to do a better job printing on certain materials than others.  You also need to look at the quality of the graphics needed or the barcode requirement involved in the application to decide on the best resolution for your printer. In addition thermal printers vary in printable width from 2” to 8.5” so the width of your material plays a part in the printer you select.

How often will you print, and at what volumes? 

Thermal printers come with a rated recommendation from a maximum of a few hundred labels per day to 24 hour a day operation. When looking to choose a printer, volume of media printed will be an important part of the equation.

Will the printer be in a fixed or mobile application?

Finally you should look at if you are better off having your printer(s) located in a fixed location such as a print room or if your application would be better off with an alternative like distributed or mobile printing.  In distributed printing you would put several printers around the facility to avoid downtime in waiting for the product to be printed or end users walking to the print center. In mobile printing the printers would be mobile either with the employees or on carts or vehicles that would allow them to move wherever the workers needed them.


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