Consumer Grade vs. Enterprise Class Devices in the
Warehouse

It’s something we talk to Insight Works customers about all
the time: Can a consumer grade phone be used as a mobile computer
in a warehouse environment? Essentially, it comes down to a
question of whether a company needs ruggedly-made devices or more
garden variety types, based on the kind of work environment being
taken into consideration. This consumer-versus-enterprise argument
has endured for years but hasn’t been conclusively resolved, and
there are two reasons for this – first, the line between consumer
and more industrial grade devices has blurred, and, perhaps more
importantly, the right choice depends heavily on each
organization’s specific work processes, the aforementioned usage
environment, preferences and budget.

If you work in a warehouse environment or represent an
organization in this sector, the most important factors you should
take into consideration here include:

  • The environment(s) the devices will be used in
  • The processes they will be used for
  • The length of time they will remain in service
  • How much maintenance and downtime are deemed acceptable
  • How much mobile workers depend on their devices to do their
    jobs

The bottom line? You can make the right choice by deciding which
differences between enterprise and consumer devices are most
important in your particular work environment.

Can You Use Your Consumer Grade Phone as a Mobile Computer?

In touching on something we brought up in the beginning of this
post, you must first ask yourself…do I constantly drop my phone?
Drops are the leading cause of damage to mobile computers in
general, resulting in downtime and lost productivity; when
considering your work environment, you’ll get a greater sense of
the devices’ exposure to risk.

Putting it in a simpler context, a handheld device – such as a
mobile phone – that will land on a nice carpeted floor of an
office when dropped doesn’t need to be quite as rugged as one
that will land on concrete. Similarly, if devices will be used
outdoors, the screen should remain visible in bright sunlight; to
this end, environmental resistance and ratings are also important
considerations if the devices will be exposed to rain, snow, dirt,
dust, chemicals or other hazards in the field.

The other “frustrating” issue comes into play when using a
mobile phone’s camera as a barcode scanner. The scanning device
on a purpose made scanner uses a scan engine, not a camera. This
means scanning speeds can be much quicker and accurate. Scanning
can also often be done off-axis. Depending on the device, scanning
distances can range from a few inches to over 70 feet. Scanning
with a mobile phone compared to a purpose-made device is like
accessing the internet with a dial-up 14.4 baud modem vs fiber
optic.

Insight Works Pro Tip:It is worth noting that
just because a device may be “IP
rated
” and supposedly able to withstand the aforementioned
elements affecting its operation, it is not necessarily
“rugged.” What’s more, a non-rugged device is unlikely to
preserve its IP rating if dropped.

The way we see it, deploying consumer grade devices in the
warehouse will ultimately result in much higher replacement costs
in addition to extensive downtime and lost productivity, while
using “ruggedized” enterprise level devices will provide a
lower TCO and higher ROI (return on investment).

Beyond the durability factor, the following should be taken into
account:

  • Device Management â€“ While some consumer
    devices support solutions such as robust mobile device management
    (MDM), many phones and tablets do not, or they include security
    features that make it difficult to centrally provision certain
    applications; enterprise level devices encompass support for most
    MDM solutions and traditional IT provisioning/management
    approaches.
  • Enterprise Application Requirements â€“ Most
    consumer devices like phones can’t handle the requirements of
    high-volume, enterprise grade warehouse applications, while more
    rugged devices have faster, more accurate barcode scanners, longer
    battery life and more.
  • Security â€“ More rugged devices provide
    enhanced security features to allow lockdown of applications so
    users only access what they need to.
  • Safety â€“ Consumer grade devices are often
    not permitted anywhere near hazardous areas, such as those dealing
    with volatile chemicals.
  • Consistency â€“ It is challenging to provide a
    consistent set of hardware and software across all devices in an
    environment for extended periods of time, what with new versions of
    consumer phones and operating system updates occurring
    frequently.
  • Total Cost of Ownership â€“ Consumer devices
    may require separate peripherals for barcode scanning or protective
    cases to improve durability, adding to the overall TCO.

As leaders in taking warehouse operations to the next level
through cutting-edge products and apps, Insight Works can answer any
questions you may have about rugged-versus-consumer devices.

The post
Consumer Grade vs. Enterprise Class Devices in the Warehouse

appeared first on ERP
Software Blog
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