Categories
Blog Mobility Transportation and Logistics

omniQ Receives Two Purchase Orders Totaling $3.4 Million for In-Truck Rugged Computing and Communication Equipment

• Follow-on orders from a major U.S. transportation and logistics company
• Supports ability to track data to meet reporting requirements for the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Hours Of Service (HOS) regulation

Salt Lake City, UT, November 13, 2019 — omniQ, Inc. (OTCQB: QUES) (“omniQ” or “the Company”), a provider of Supply Chain and Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based solutions, received two purchase orders for the total amount of $3.4M from a major U.S.-based transportation and logistics firm for the supply of mobile in-truck computing and communication equipment.

omniQ’s state-of-the-art equipment improves logistics efficiencies by enabling more accurate control of shipping/receiving and inventory management. To fulfill this order, the Company will provide truck mounted rugged mobile tablets with cellular communication to be integrated with the customer’s logistic system. In addition to logistics management, the equipment assists the gathering of data required as set forth by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Hours of Service regulation.

Shai Lustgarten, President and CEO at omniQ, stated, “For many years, omniQ has built its reputation as a reliable supplier of warehouse and point of sale data collection and management equipment. Beginning in 2018, we enhanced our solution by adding in-truck equipment that further integrated our logistic solution capability and expanded our portfolio of consolidated solutions to address the logistics needs of large corporations. We are seeing increased demand in the marketplace for our combined solution and believe the effectiveness of our technology and the strength of our Fortune 500 customer base position this comprehensive solution as a major engine for our future growth. Looking ahead, we are working on adding our AI technology to the solutions we provide in order to seamlessly combine warehouse, truck and yard management into one integrated system that enables efficient data collection and analysis.”

About omniQ
omniQ is a Specialty Systems Integrator focused on Field and Supply Chain Mobility. We are also a manufacturer and distributor of consumables (labels, tags, and ribbons), RFID solutions, and barcoding printers. Founded in 1994, Quest is headquartered in Eugene, Oregon, with offices in the United States.
Rated in the Top 1% of global solution providers, omniQ specializes in the design, deployment and management of enterprise mobility solutions including Automatic Identification and Data Capture (AIDC), Mobile Cloud Analytics, RFID (Radio Frequency Identification), and proprietary Mobility software. Our mobility products and services offering is designed to identify, track, trace, share and connect data to enterprise systems such as CRM or ERP solutions. Our customers are leading Fortune 500 companies from several sectors including manufacturing, retail, distribution, food / beverage, transportation and logistics, health care and chemicals / gas / oil.

Information about Forward-Looking Statements
“Safe Harbor” Statement under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Statements in this press release relating to plans, strategies, economic performance and trends, projections of results of specific activities or investments, and other statements that are not descriptions of historical facts may be forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. This release contains “forward-looking statements” that include information relating to future events and future financial and operating performance. The words “may,” “would,” “will,” “expect,” “estimate,” “can,” “believe,” “potential” and similar expressions and variations thereof are intended to identify forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements should not be read as a guarantee of future performance or results, and will not necessarily be accurate indications of the times at, or by, which that performance or those results will be achieved. Forward-looking statements are based on information available at the time they are made and/or management’s good faith belief as of that time with respect to future events, and are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual performance or results to differ materially from those expressed in or suggested by the forward-looking statements. Important factors that could cause these differences include, but are not limited to: fluctuations in demand for omniQ, Inc.’s products, the introduction of new products, the Company’s ability to maintain customer and strategic business relationships, the impact of competitive products and pricing, growth in targeted markets, the adequacy of the Company’s liquidity and financial strength to support its growth, the Company’s ability to manage credit and debt structures from vendors, debt holders and secured lenders, the Company’s ability to successfully integrate its acquisitions, risks related to the sale of omniQ Canada Inc. to Viascan Group Inc. and other information that may be detailed from time-to-time in omniQ Inc.’s filings with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission. Examples of such forward looking statements in this release include, among others, statements regarding revenue growth, driving sales, operational and financial initiatives, cost reduction and profitability, and simplification of operations. For a more detailed description of the risk factors and uncertainties affecting omniQ, Inc. please refer to the Company’s recent Securities and Exchange Commission filings, which are available at http://www.sec.gov. omniQ, Inc. undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, unless otherwise required by law.

Investor Contact:
John Nesbett/Jen Belodeau
IMS Investor Relations
203.972.9200
jnesbett@institutionalms.com

Categories
Blog Industry Solutions Mobility

Android for Enterprise? Zebra’s Mobility DNA Has Created the Future.

With Microsoft ending support for Windows Embedded and the enterprise mobility industry switching to Android in droves, many companies are developing their strategy for migrating to Android and upgrading their mobile devices.

Now that Android smartphones and tablets have so many useful capabilities and such an intuitive interface, a common temptation is to abandon enterprise-grade mobile computers in favor of these cheaper, consumer-grade devices.

But the drawbacks to consumer-grade devices are numerous.  Compared to enterprise-grade devices, they lack durability and carry a higher total cost of ownership, and they also lack the security, battery life, scanning capabilities, and other tools to meet enterprise demands.

This is why so many companies are choosing Zebra Android enterprise mobile computers engineered with Zebra’s Mobility DNA.

Reasons Why Companies Are Adopting Zebra Android Devices

Zebra has developed the ideal solution for Android enterprise computing with Mobility DNA. It’s a complete software ecosystem that converts Android into a powerfully secure and enterprise-ready platform with enormous advantages over consumer devices.

Let’s take a look at some of the biggest reasons why companies are adopting Zebra Android devices:

  1. Powerful Security: Zebra’s Mobility Extensions (Mx) and mobile device management give companies complete control over each Android device, its network connections, and the applications authorized to run on it. Android also enables over-the-air updates, so OS updates and security patches can be applied faster and more easily.With these tools, Android becomes an enterprise-grade OS with security on par with anything ever achieved by Windows.
  1. Faster and Better Workforce Communication: Zebra’s Workforce Connect application improves and unifies communications across devices, so you can use your Android device as a single solution for voice, push-to-talk, text, and video.There are a variety of voice-enablement tools that help warehouses achieve enormous improvements in productivity with multi-modal speech-directed applications that guide workers to the next task and location, and verify correct scans and process flows.Additionally, Zebra’s SmartDEX delivers cable-free, fast, and easy DEX connectivity for direct store delivery applications.
  1. Advanced Scanning and Document Capture: Zebra’s enterprise-grade devices and Mobility DNA applications also convert Android devices into scanning and data capture workhorses on par with dedicated and advanced bar code scanners. The devices capture 1D and 2D bar codes as well as part marks and documents seamlessly and reliably. Their advanced scanning capabilities are far beyond the functionality of consumer devices. Any process that requires lots of scanning would soon find that consumer-grade camera scans will slow down the efficiency and productivity of your operations.In addition, Zebra’s SimulScan automates document capture in a single step while its DataWedge application sends scanned data to any running app.  You can even decode multiple bar codes at the same time filling in an entire form with a single scan.  You can even create a virtual data capture button on your mobile device screens with SwipeAssist.
  1. Longer Battery Life: Unlike consumer devices, which are often plagued by battery issues and recharging requirements, Zebra’s Android devices are engineered with PowerPrecision+ battery technology for best-in-class power and manageability.Each battery delivers up to 14 hours of power.  Further, Zebra’s batteries are hot-swappable so you can ensure continuous power for a 24 by 7 round-the-clock operation. Software tools also provide metrics and battery health indicators so you can maximize battery life and long-term performance.
  1. Seamless Integration and Development: Zebra’s Mobility DNA also includes many tools to make life easier for IT staff and app developers, including its Android and Xamarin EMDKs which provide APIs, sample code, and tools to create enterprise apps without consumer OS constraints. These and other development tools make it much faster and easier to migrate to Android than to redevelop your apps for the latest versions of Windows.

Rugged computers withstand the tough physical environment needed in industrial applications, beyond consumer-grade devices.

Zebra’s Mobility DNA provides the industrial needs for security, communication, data capture, battery life and integration needed for business applications, in a way that far surpasses traditional consumer-based off-the-shelf devices.  It takes the utility, familiarity and ease of use of Android to the next level for required productivity and data protection.

Are You Planning a Switch to Android or a Device Upgrade in the Near Future?

omniQ has the technical expertise, professional services, management services and even software development group to enable migration to Android or optimize your existing Android systems.  Contact omniQ now to learn more about Zebra Android devices with Mobility DNA. Call 1-800-242-7272 or email us now.

Categories
Mobility Retail

How to Calculate the Total Cost of Ownership for Your Retail Mobility Devices

Mobility has rapidly become a necessity for retail stores. As customer expectations change and the need for accurate inventory counts increases, wireless and mobile technologies have emerged as a key competitive differentiator for brick-and-mortar retailers.

A number of factors have converged to drive adoption of mobile devices in retail:

  • Customers demand on-the-spot, in-person service. Associates need real-time information about price and product availability.
  • Accurate inventory counts are essential, especially if you fulfill online orders from the store.
  • Communication among your team is essential for efficiency and the ability to deliver excellent customer service.

When it comes time to deploy a new mobile computer or upgrade an existing deployment, how do you know whether the investment you are making is the best value? You have to evaluate the total cost of ownership (TCO) of the new devices you are considering.

Do the Math

Calculating a correct TCO will allow you to more accurately select the most cost-effective device for your application. Remember, the lower the total cost of ownership, the faster you can achieve a return on investment (ROI).

TCO is more than just the purchase price of the system — in fact, research firm VDC estimates that hard costs account for only 10% of TCO over five years. While rugged, enterprise-class mobile devices may have a higher sticker price, low-cost consumer devices often have a higher failure rate or may not be able to efficiently handle your application needs. The TCO for those devices is often higher than for a rugged device.

Be sure you take the following factors into account for a more accurate TCO calculation:

Hardware Costs: These include all of your hardware (computers, wireless access points), as well as the purchase price of your mobile software. You may also need to purchase peripherals such as mobile printers, industrial-grade barcode scanners, card readers/EMV chip readers, and other items. Enterprise-class mobile computers typically have a number of these peripherals available; consumer-grade mobile devices (like smart phones) often do not.

Replacement Costs: Replacement cost or the cost to maintain a spares pool also contributes to TCO. Devices that aren’t designed for use in your environment may be more likely to fail or become damaged, resulting in higher replacement/repair costs over the long term. Ask your solution provider about failure rates, and use that information to project those costs. Consumer devices may also become obsolete or may not be supported as long as enterprise devices, resulting in more frequent hardware refresh cycles.

Don’t Forget Soft Costs

Soft costs are more difficult to quantify, but you can project potential costs based on the typical failure/replacement rate of the hardware and your own internal costs. Each time a mobile device fails, it can lead to costly down time and opportunity loss. If the mobile device doesn’t have sufficient processing power or an enterprise-class scanner, it could bog down operations and degrade productivity. For scan-heavy operations (like inventory or receiving), phone or iPad scanners simply decode too slowly to be useful in a retail environment.

Devices that require frequent updating or troubleshooting also increase IT support costs. This is where the use of rugged or enterprise-class devices can positively affect TCO. Because these devices require less support, offer longer battery life, and are designed for robust security, they can greatly reduce future support and maintenance costs.

Rugged devices are built on more stable operating platforms. Consumer device operating systems are upgraded frequently, which can lead to application compatibility issues and other problems.

Finally, modern rugged devices can also reduce training costs and boost productivity. These mobile computers boast the same easy-to-use interfaces as their consumer counterparts, and are available in a variety of form factors (phone, tablet, etc.) that make them more ergonomic and ideal for mobile point-of-sale, assisted shopping, and other consumer-facing applications.

First Impressions Can Be Deceiving

So while the cost of a consumer device may be lower, TCO for those mobile computers is usually higher — one VDC estimate put the average TCO of a consumer handheld at roughly $4,000, compared to $2,700 for a rugged handheld.

Sometimes, the more rugged devices are called “purpose-built” devices.  The purpose is obvious:  design specifically for the operations in your retail, warehouse or other environments.

Before you buy contact us at omniQ, conduct a thorough and accurate TCO analysis on any mobile devices you are considering for use in your retail store.

Categories
Field Sales and Delivery Manufacturing Mobility

IP Ratings: Does the Ruggedness of Your Devices Matter?

Factories, warehouses and field usage are challenging environments for technology. Mobile devices used in these types of applications should be rugged enough to withstand the extreme temperatures, shock, and exposure to dirt and moisture they will likely encounter.

A truly rugged mobile device has had its durability tested and certified by the manufacturer and, preferably, an independent third party. For the types of mobile devices found in warehouses or in field service applications, the most common measure of that ruggedness is the Ingress Protection or IP rating.

The IP rating classifies the degree of protection the device has against intrusion of solid objects (like dust particles) or liquid. The two-digit number expresses this ruggedization by combining the two ratings.

The first digit indicates the level of protection against solid foreign objects, and ranges from 0 (no protection) to 6 (dust-tight; no ingress). The second digit indicates the protection the enclosure has against water, and ranges from 0 (no protection) to 7 (immersion up to 1m) or 8 (immersion beyond 1m).

The types of rugged computers used in enterprise applications typically have an IP rating ranging from IP64 to IP67. While there are IP68 rated devices available, it’s important to ask the manufacture the depth and length of time of the liquid immersion the device is protected against. Because the standard is not specific, the level of water protection for these devices can vary.

In addition to the IP testing, rugged devices are typically tested to withstand being dropped to concrete, shock, vibration, and other environmental factors. Some devices are built to operate in freezer environments, for example, or to safely operate in explosive environments.

For enterprise applications, particularly line-of-business solutions in the warehouse, factory or in the field, having a device that is rugged enough to withstand the wear and tear of the environment and use case is critical. You need a device that has been designed from inside and out to be reliable even in the harshest environments.   Simply having a case is not enough especially for the internal components.

Because they are built for enterprise applications, these devices can have a greater return on investment (ROI) than cheaper consumer-grade devices, even though they cost more. That’s because:

  • These rugged computers and mobile printers have much lower failure rates than consumer-grade devices. That means they last longer (in some use cases, many years), which reduces the replacement cost and ultimately lowers the total cost of ownership (TCO) for the devices.
  • Rugged devices require less frequent repair and replacement, so they have a greater up-time and can improve end user productivity.
  • It takes longer to repair commercial/consumer-grade devices than it does to fix rugged devices, which means rugged computers and printers have shorter downtime even when they do fail.

In fact, an often-cited study by VDC Research found that companies using commercial-grade devices experienced failure rates that were almost double those of rugged device users. Nearly 35 percent of commercial devices were replaced within two years, compared to just two percent of rugged devices.

If you need mobile computers and printers for a mission-critical application – manufacturing, inventory management, field service, delivery, etc. – then those devices have to be built to last. Rugged devices that meet the required IP ratings and other environmental specifications can provide a faster ROI, increased productivity, and (long-term) lower costs than consumer devices. And they will do so for years to come.

Categories
Industry Solutions Mobility Warehouse and Distribution

Voice in the Warehouse: Tips for Maximizing Performance in Demanding Environments

Warehouse workers use their hands a lot — for picking, putaway, shipping, and other important tasks. While mobile computers have helped increase efficiency in the warehouse, those computers also tie up your employees’ hands. Hands-free, voice-based options can help boost productivity even further by keeping employees’ hands free and their eyes on their work. Using voice in the warehouse can improve inventory throughput, shipping accuracy, and even safety.

The Benefits of Voice Direction

Receiving voice direction from the application and being able to speak location, bin codes, status and activity rather than stopping to scan or key-enter them can increase the speed of each pick and putaway action. Voice software is designed to guard against errors and alert employees when they have entered the wrong code or item.
In a typical scenario, the employee scans a barcoded order number from a picking card or sheet, and then receives audio directions about where to locate the items on the sheet. At each location, they can speak the location and bin numbers to confirm they are in the right place and selecting the right item. The system provides quantity information that is confirmed verbally.

Productivity improves because employees can complete more tasks in less time, while accuracy increases because of the feedback and confirmations the system provides. Workers are safer because they aren’t staring at mobile computer screens to confirm their work. There are ergonomic benefits as well because there is less typing and managing of handheld devices.

Voice + Barcode

Each business has different requirements, of course. There will always be a need for barcode scanning in the warehouse. Other operations may find more benefit in a pick-to-light or other type of system.

Each warehouse will require different levels of technology integration to ensure efficient operation. Voice in the warehouse provides a flexible platform that can be used in conjunction with other technologies (such as barcode scanning). Voice also offers significant speed and accuracy improvements compared to other solutions that can quickly provide a return on investment (ROI), particularly for high-velocity and dynamic warehouse operations.

How to Make Voice Work for Your Warehouse

To be successful, a voice implementation should integrate smoothly with the warehouse management system (WMS) in place and be coupled with process optimization activities that will help eliminate bottlenecks and reduce redundancies. In fact, deploying voice in the warehouse can help uncover some of those inefficient workflows and processes because employees will be more focused on value-added tasks. In order to effectively gauge the potential benefits of voice in the warehouse, companies first must identify the pain points that they want the voice solution to address.

Those problem areas can include:

– Higher demand and inventory volumes
– Picking/shipping errors
– Increased operational costs

Voice technology can often address these pain points by enabling higher accuracy and increasing the velocity of picking/putaway tasks compared to paper-based processed, RF scanning, and pick-to-light solutions.

Implementing voice takes a solid understanding of the processes, the application, and the technology.  Some systems may allow for simply voice-enabling existing applications if the applications and operations are already fairly efficient.  Other operations can be completely restructured to interface into new applications for best performance.  Time and motion studies and an open mind to process flow can provide the optimum new system.

Using voice in the warehouse can provide a strategic platform that helps companies expand their business while controlling operating costs and improving customer service. The hands-free, eyes-free approach of voice will provide the most natural and effective method for your warehouse workers to complete their jobs.

Categories
Mobility RFID Hardware Transportation and Logistics

The Top 5 Supply Chain Trends of the Future

Supply chain technology is constantly (and rapidly) evolving. This can make it difficult to keep up with emerging supply chain trends and identify which ones might actually have a significant impact on your business.

While it can be easy to get inundated with too much information or distracted by the latest flavor-of-the-month tech trend, there are some new and existing technologies that are expanding their presence in supply chain operations. These five top supply chain trends could help you improve your operations in the near future:

Voice

Voice-based picking solutions have been available for decades, but recent improvements in hardware and voice/speech recognition technology have made these systems much more attractive — even to smaller warehouse operations. With voice-based picking solutions, employees carry small mobile computers attached to headsets that are used to both deliver audio directions and accept verbal input (i.e., reading location numbers or item numbers) from workers.

Like the other supply chain trends we’ve identified, voice-enabled picking systems can provide a number of benefits. Because the solutions are both hands-free and eyes-free, employees are able to complete tasks more quickly (which increases productivity). Voice confirmations result in greater accuracy than is possible with pick-to-light or paper-based systems. Because their eyes aren’t on a mobile computer screen or paper pick lists, employees can also complete their work more safely.

Heads-Up Displays (HUD)

Heads-up displays are related to voice picking in that they are a component of wearable computer solutions. Wearables have been around for a while, but falling costs and the media attention given to display systems like Google Glass have increased interest in these solutions.

Using a set of glasses or goggles, users can see digital information displayed in front of their eyes while they are working. Instead of hearing a voice command, which at times can be limited, or looking at a wrist-mounted display or truck-mounted display, they can see everything right in front of them, hands free without needing to be at a specific location. This can be especially helpful when planning the route to the next location in a busy warehouse or identifying a part with a visual instead of just the part number and/or barcode. HUD isn’t unique to a list of supply chain trends: These types of systems are also used in augmented reality (AR) systems that can overlay digital information (like measurements or repair information) on the object or area the user is looking at.

Location-Based Services (LBS)

The LBS applications most people are familiar with right now are based on GPS navigation on the road, but that is about to change. Device costs are falling, GPS is more widely available in mobile computers and consumer smartphones, the solutions are more mature, and there are open-source mapping technologies available. This will affect the supply chain in a number of ways.

– First, it will be even easier to track shipments at both the truck and pallet level, in addition to tracking employees and company assets.
– Second, for companies that engage in e-commerce, consumer purchases made via mobile phones and other devices will provide location insight that wasn’t possible before. Companies will be able to track geographic demand trends and help fulfill purchases using locally available inventory.

Now, with RFID and other IoT technology pairing with GPS, systems can track locations of critical assets and people with much greater accuracy and determine real-time movement.

RFID/IoT

RFID has been the next big thing in supply chain trends for a long time, but the technology’s integration with Internet of Things (IoT) functionality may help increase adoption. RFID allows identification of a specific item, somewhat like a serial number or license plate to identify each item.  However, smart tags can also track temperature, movement, barometric pressure and even shock and vibration.

Using RFID, wireless sensors, cloud connectivity, and other technology, connected devices/assets can provide much greater supply chain visibility of everything from inventory levels to temperatures to more accurate shipment arrival time estimates based on in-transit visibility. This can be critical for assuring safe handling of food and potentially hazardous substances.

In a world where returnable assets, vehicles, and products are increasingly connected, it will be possible to improve inventory management, fleet management, driver safety, and supply chain responsiveness. Reorder requests could be automatically generated from a manufacturing plant or a warehouse without human intervention. Shippers could intervene more quickly if a load of produce is in danger of exceeding the required storage temperature. Third party logistics providers could more quickly redeploy idle trucks or trailers to improve service.

Space Optimization

Warehouse and truck space is often managed via ad-hoc and reactionary processes. Goods are placed wherever it looks like they’ll fit, which doesn’t necessarily make it easier to find, pack, or deliver them. Space optimization technology will change that. Using advanced dimensioning scanners and measurement data, companies will be able to optimize placement and storage of goods in their warehouses and in their trucks.

New solutions are even available that can help employees more effectively pack goods down to the box level. These systems will improve efficiency and help reduce packaging waste for shippers.  And, of course, smaller packaging can cost less to ship, at the box, truck or shipping container level.

Companies increasingly compete on the effectiveness and efficiency of their supply chain operations. Whoever can get the package there first at the lowest cost will win. Staying up-to-speed on these supply chain trends will help your company remain competitive now and in the future.

Categories
Data Interchange Energy Field Sales and Delivery Industry Solutions Mobility Route Accounting Transportation and Logistics

3 Ways Technology Optimizes Productivity for Your Field Employees

Field employees — whether they are technicians, delivery drivers, route sales reps, or some combination of those jobs — are an extremely valuable and expensive part of your operation. If you don’t properly optimize their schedules or daily workloads, you can wind up with idle employees and equipment or find yourself over-hiring and investing in more routes or vehicles than you actually need.

Technology and planning can help you improve the efficiency of your field employees. That’s good for the company (you can log more jobs or sales without hiring additional employees) and also good for your field staff since they can spend more time earning money and less time driving from job to job.

Here are three examples of how technology can benefit your field operation:

Route Optimization: No matter how skilled your schedulers and dispatchers are, if they are still managing routes manually then your field employees are probably not working to their full potential. Manual routing is prone to human error.

By using an intelligent, automated routing and scheduling tool you can ensure that all routes are optimized based on your own efficiency/productivity goals. Route optimization tools can ensure that stops are organized to minimize time and distance, but within key customer time constraints and expectations.  Route optimization can also ensure that employees take the fastest route between stops, intelligently schedule pick-up/drop-off stops for delivery applications, and even schedule service technicians based on both location and skill set.

Modern route optimization solutions with real-time capabilities can even reroute employees based on traffic, weather, and road construction information. If a job is taking too long, the next stop can be automatically rerouted to another employee.

These features can keep the schedule on track, improve customer service, save fuel, and boost productivity — and routes can be optimized and communicated even before the shift begins.

Anticipate Customer Needs: Inventory management tools can help your delivery or route sales drivers arrive at each customer stop with the right merchandise and equipment on hand. New predictive analytics and forecasting tools can help sales operations forecast what their customers need before an order is placed or the driver arrives, which can help improve the efficiency of each stop.

In field service applications, sensors, automation, machine-to-machine interfaces, and cloud computing resources can help companies remotely diagnose (and in some cases repair) assets and equipment. By knowing what is wrong with a machine before they arrive to fix it, technicians can be sure to have the right tools and parts, which will improve both the first-time fix rate and overall productivity.

Leverage Technology on the Truck and in the Field: With mobile computers, GPS technology, and/or telematics solutions in your company vehicles you can further boost employee productivity.

By deploying automated delivery, inventory, or work order management solutions on mobile companies or tablets in the field, employees can quickly provide status updates, document their work, obtain customer signatures/payments, and close out work orders without time-consuming paperwork.

Combined with real-time wireless communications, these systems can also automatically update ERP, CRM, and route optimization solutions in real time. Managers and dispatchers can see the status of each job/stop and use that information to adjust the schedule if necessary.

GPS-based fleet tracking units on the truck can also update the location of each employee, time-stamp arrivals and departures to improve documentation/billing, and help automatically populate driver logs, hours of service documentation, or fuel tax forms, saving even more time for field employees.

The technology can also provide solutions for electronic logging devices (ELDs), hours of service (HOS) management, driver vehicle inspection reports (DVIR), and other compliance and operations requirements.

With the right technology solutions in place to optimizing your routing and scheduling, anticipate the needs of each work order/customer, and track the progress and location of your staff and vehicles, you can greatly enhance both the efficiency and productivity of your field employees.

Categories
Mobility

Choosing the Ideal Mobile OS Architecture for your Rugged Handhelds and Tablets

When it came to rugged devices, it used to be there was only one dominant mobile operating system (OS) choice: some version of Windows — Mobile, Embedded, or CE. However, with the emergence of new mobile platforms and Microsoft’s delay in rolling out its own new mobile platform, rugged device users have multiple options. Selecting a mobile OS architecture will affect device migration strategies, user interfaces, security, and other elements of a mobile deployment, and there are pros and cons to each platform, but your application and environment should guide the process.

Below are some of the aspects of each mobile operating system that may affect its utility within your rugged device application.

Windows:For users with legacy CE or Windows Mobile deployments, Microsoft has effectively ended any further development of those specific platforms. While hardware vendors and resellers like omniQ will continue to support the devices, don’t expect any further innovation or development in that segment.

Instead, Microsoft has shifted its focus to Windows 10, which supports apps across all of its device platforms. Windows 10 Embedded IoT is a good mobile operating system choice for customers that rely heavily on Microsoft for security and application functions. The full version of Windows 10 is a good choice for tablet-based applications in the field that require full Windows support — in essence, it allows the tablet to act as a full-blow field workstation/PC.

Apple iOS:There has been increasing activity in the enterprise around Apple’s iOS devices (iPhones, iPads) in part because the user interface is so familiar to employees, and also because the devices tend to be less expensive. However, iOS is not a good fit for many rugged warehouse or field-based applications.

If a company has opted to standardize on Apple platforms, that will limit the range of rugged options available. There are currently no rugged iOS devices, although there are cases/covers available that can provide some measure of protection. These devices are also not well suited to applications that require heavy or intense barcode scanning without additional accessories.

Android:The Android OS is presently the dominant choice in the smartphone market, and is quickly gaining ground in the rugged device space. It combines the ease of use and familiarity of personal phones, similar to iOS, with a more diverse selection of available rugged hardware from several manufacturers.

More business-friendly features (like Android for Work) have made the platform easier to integrate with line-of-business applications. There is also a wider universe of available applications that support the platform and a large group of developers. New security enhancements have also made it more attractive, allowing careful segmentation of “personal data” and “corporate business data” on bring your own device (BYOD) and corporately owned, personally enabled (COPE) devices.

However, different manufacturers support different versions of Android, which can lead to compatibility issues when it comes to support for specific applications on some devices. Managing the capabilities of the version of OS is just as important as which OS variety.

Ultimately, the company has to make its mobile operating system decision based on what is best suited to meet their objectives. If enhanced security is required, that will affect how files are shared or how users are connected back to the corporate network. The need to support legacy applications can also affect this decision.

It’s important to be aware of the version of the mobile operating system supported by the manufacturer you work with and the software systems you need to support. That’s why it is important to work with a manufacturer like Zebra Technologies. Zebra has a variety of handheld and tablets to choose from – like the TC8000 or the ET50/ET55 – and can offer the support you need regardless of your situation. If you have a legacy application designed for older Windows-based mobile devices, you will need to work out a migration path even if you opt to move to Windows 10, because the applications will need to be re-architected. That means the cost to move to Android might not be any higher than updating Windows environments – the decision will come down to features, functions, and security.

It is best to work with a solution integrator that has in-depth experience with the various operating systems, compatibility, security and device management systems to know the best options for your specific objectives.

Categories
Industry Solutions Mobility RFID Hardware RFID Software Warehouse and Distribution

4 Ways Mobility and the Internet of Things Benefit Warehouses

The growing Internet of Things (IoT) is on its way to connecting billions of pieces of equipment, consumer products, smart home systems, electronics, and other items. That represents a revolutionary way to collect data from far-flung assets, improving predictive maintenance, providing remote troubleshooting and control capabilities, and creating new ways to leverage large amounts of data that was never before available.

Mobility plays a similar role. Every partner, employee, and customer is potentially available anywhere and anytime, as long as they have their smartphone, tablet, or handheld computer. In combination, mobility and Internet of Things will extend the reach of the enterprise to virtually anywhere.

What does this mean for the warehouse? While mobility and the Internet of Things present plenty of opportunities outside the four walls, they will also have positive effects within the distribution center. The IoT will allow supply chains to create hyper-efficient warehouses that generate fewer shipping errors and hold less inventory.

There are four primary ways that mobility and the IoT will benefit the warehouse:

1. Better inventory management. Shelves full of connected products and smart shipping containers will make it easier to locate and manage inventory in the warehouse. These systems can automatically generate alerts if stock is running low or if temperatures or other conditions may jeopardize the quality of goods. Shelving and racking can become part of the Internet of Things, using real-time connectivity to help guide picking and putaway. The IoT could also make it easier to manage returns, since the returned item itself can communicate important information about its status, location, and ultimate point of disposition.

2. Improved efficiency and less labor.With better information about where goods are located, employees can do their work much faster. Armed with mobile computers, staff can do their work anywhere in the warehouse. The IoT can also be used to enable more warehouse automation, generating real-time demand signals that can guide robotic picking and putaway systems. Data from connected inventory and infrastructure can also help warehouse operators identify bottlenecks and monitor unsafe working conditions. Using that data, the warehouse can be reconfigured to be safer and to provide the most efficient picking paths and inventory configurations.

3. Better customer engagement.With the type of granular visibility into inventory and warehouse operations the Internet of Things and mobility provides, you can keep your customers better informed about the status of their inventory or orders. Data from connected products in the field can also be leveraged to generate more accurate demand signals and order/production forecasts.

In addition, the warehouse can provide new types of value-added services to customers using IoT and mobility technology. With better information about inventory and future demand, warehouses could offer more capacity to their customers, providing a sort of “burst capacity” for short-term increases capacity. Having better inventory information sooner means warehouses can more successfully offer cross-docking, just-in-time, and other types of services in a more cost-effective way.

4. Reduced risk.The IoT can help warehouses better detect risk and avoid mistakes/accidents that can create losses in the supply chain. Sensors in the warehouse can monitor temperature, moisture, and other conditions. Data coming from shipping conveyances, vehicles, and the products themselves can be combined to reduce theft, counterfeiting, diversion, and spoilage.

The Internet of Things and mobile technology can make the supply chain more flexible, reliable, predictable, and transparent. The warehouse can benefit from the IoT both internally, in terms of productivity and efficiency, and externally, through improved customer service. With this technology, your entire operation could see gains in efficiency, productivity, and accuracy, which can help your business grow.

 

 

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Barcode Industry Solutions Mobility Warehouse and Distribution

Voice Picking: 4 Ways Distribution Centers Benefit

Good warehouse managers and distribution center operators are always looking for ways to improve operational efficiency and to implement cost-saving measures. Order picking is a crucial part of the distribution process, and it’s an area that can be substantially improved through one simple change: the use of a voice picking system.

With voice picking, employees receive verbal instructions through the warehouse management system to their wireless headsets. This replaces paper lists and handheld devices such as tablets or barcode scanners that require manual data entry. Using this type of system offers many benefits in four key areas: productivity, accuracy, workforce advantages, and improved safety.

  • Productivity:Time is money, particularly in today’s competitive business environments, where speed of order fulfillment contributes to both sales volume and customer satisfaction. With a voice picking system, employees can work faster because they can be listening and responding while on the move, rather than having to study orders on paper or devices. They can also pick items more effectively because both hands are free — no juggling lists or scanners along with the picks. Another advantage is immediate communication with management, so any problems can be reported and solved on the spot. Companies utilizing this technology report productivity increases anywhere from 15 to 35 percent.
  • Accuracy:While speed counts in fulfillment, accuracy is even more important. It doesn’t matter how fast an order ships if it contains the wrong items. Returns and replacements can be costly, not only in terms of time and money but in customer satisfaction and company reputation. The accuracy rate of voice picking can exceed 99 percent. With a voice system, workers can quickly and easily verify location and item information by repeating key numbers for confirmation. This method also facilitates correct fulfillment of more complex or specialized orders (for example, a liquor distributor dealing with split-case orders). The system can also increase accuracy of inventory counts, which can be updated as each task is completed.
  • Workforce Advantages:The ability to significantly improve productivity and accuracy creates a higher degree of job satisfaction for employees. They also benefit from knowing they are being given the most effective tools and up-to-date technology to help do their jobs. This satisfaction can result in a lower turnover rate, which means less time training new hires. Even when new employees are needed (an increase in seasonal workers, for example), training time and costs can be reduced with a voice picking system. Users can learn the basics of the system in a matter of hours and gain proficiency quickly. In addition, the direct communication of the headset allows them to ask questions at any time and receive guidance as they go.
  • Safety:Warehouses and distribution centers can be full of potential hazards, and workplace accidents can result in major losses of time and money as well as personal injury. Voice picking systems can improve safety records. When employees do not have to focus on paper lists or data on handheld devices, they can pay more attention to their surroundings and be alert to any hazards. The headsets leave both hands free for climbing ladders, using stair railings, handling boxes, and performing other tasks more effectively.

With all of the benefits they offer, voice picking systems are a sound investment that will improve efficiency, accuracy, and safety of your operations. Look for an experienced IT integrator who can help choose, install, and maintain a system and related services (such as a wireless network) that will work best for you.