There are many warning signs that your RF devices are approaching the end of their useful life. In this blog we explore how to know if your devices need to be replaced, how to choose the right replacement and understanding what the best device is available for your operations.
How do I know if I need new RF devices?
RF devices are a lot like your phone, they require charging, updates, and an appropriate amount of care. One of the obvious signs you need a replacement device is to gauge how long a charge lasts. A functioning RF device should last at least one 8-hour shift before needing to be placed on a charger. If your pickers are constantly interrupted in their daily tasks to go swap out a dead device or replace a dead battery, you’ll want to start investigating replacements.
Scanning speed is another warning sign that the device is no longer within its useful life. How long does it take to scan, and does it take some moving of the device or product to get the scan to read? Talk to your warehouse workers, they will know what devices are functioning at a high level and which ones tend to make their jobs more difficult.
Another important thing to consider is the type, model, and support for your device. For instance, if you are currently using Microsoft Windows CE devices, you will need to start making plans for replacements. Microsoft announced the sunsetting of Windows CE and Mobile and there will not be any further patches or security updates. While the devices continue to work, you might run into serious issues with hacking, support, and upgrade glitches when other software in your operation gets upgraded. Be sure to check the support and upgrades roadmap of your devices so you are not caught off guard.
Android, IOS or Windows?
There are many platforms and choices, how to decide what is the best option for you?
The first thing do is to contact your warehouse management system (WMS) vendor to investigate what devices and operating system (OS) work with your system. Some systems might only be able to support certain operation systems like Android or IOS. Some, like the FASCOR WMS, can support multiple platforms. It is best to discuss what will work best with your system and if there will be any software development costs to implement it.
WINDOWS CE & MOBILE
Microsoft has sunsetted Windows CE and Windows Mobile and there is no support, security fixes or upgrades planned. Microsoft now has placed an emphasis on its app uses on Android and IOS devices in the warehouse space.
If you have used iOS in the past, you know that that Apple only allows iOS on its own hardware. This means you’re not going to find industrial grade barcode scanners running iOS. However, it has opened the market for 3rd party developers to create apps which can transform a standard iPhone into an enterprise grade device. If you’re already familiar with iOS then this can be a good option. Keep in mind that the IOS devices were not made for warehouse use. Drops, cracked screens and other environmental hazards could make what seemed like an affordable alternative into a money pit.
Android has effectively taken the market lead over the past 3-5 years in the warehouse. This has been mainly due to 3 reasons. The sunsetting of Windows CE and Mobile, the increase of Android use within the consumer market and finally, the increase in enterprise apps being developed for the platform. Android is an open-source platform that is easy to use, enterprise apps are plentiful, and the hardware is better protected than others.
Budget Considerations - Replace as you go...
An important point to remember is that it might not be necessary to replace all your devices at one time. Many WMS systems, like FASCOR, can operate with a mix of different brands of RF devices like Zebra or Honeywell as well as a mix of operating systems whether it is Microsoft, Android or IOS. Slow and deliberate swapping out of poor performing devices for newer ones can be a viable and cost-effective solution. Again, be sure to contact your WMS provider to learn more.
No matter where you are currently with your mobile devices, it is important to consider support, upgrades and adoption with your operational systems, as well as having a maintenance and replacement plan in place.
Need some help? Talk with FASCOR’s device experts to get more information. Click here to schedule some time with one of FASCOR mobile device experts.