Smartphones and tablets are beginning to take over the warehouse. According to a recent survey by Honeywell, 20% of warehouses use smartphones in their daily picking and management operations, with another 42% working on a plan to implement them in the near future. In this day and age, RF guns just can’t keep up with the low cost and simplicity of smartphones.
Smartphones lower the investment a warehouse needs to make in hardware and maintenance by a significant margin. You can get a brand new iPod Touch or Android Tablet for less than 10% the cost of your average RF gun. Multiply that by the number of devices you need and just imagine the total cost savings. You can also easily upgrade and take advantage of the next generation of technology since the replacement costs won’t hit as hard as those for an RF gun. You have the flexibility to make better long-term business decisions since you aren't financially tied to an RF gun and the systems on which it relies.
An iPhone literally has one physical button, and the intuitive touch screen has become ubiquitous in our culture. Smartphone technology is familiar to almost everyone. Using technology your employees are already comfortable with will increase accuracy and greatly reduce training time. Employees won’t need to learn a new system, they can just shoehorn your operating processes into a piece of technology they use everyday.
Smartphones enable instant access to data on the warehouse floor. Decision-makers don’t have to run around or wait for printed reports anymore, they can simply pull their phone from their pocket and see their entire supply chain at their fingertips. This allows them to make better decisions in real-time and reallocate resources to meet all your daily goals.
Smartphones can fit much more into a much smaller package. Not only do smartphones fit easily into the palm of any hand, they come loaded with advanced technology (and at 10% of the cost as we mentioned above). A new phone is going to come standard with the best processors, screen, and operating systems on the market today.
"The success of smartphones and tablet PCs has created a situation in which employees have better technology for personal use than they do for business needs," said Dr. Markus Kückelhaus, director of trend research at DHL Customer Solutions & Innovation. "But they expect to have the same standard of technology at work. For this reason, we think companies have to step up and put smartphone sensors in particular to work in logistics."
An iPhone weighs ¼ of a pound and fits into a pocket with ease. An RF gun can’t say the same thing. This makes picking easier for your workers and frees them up to be more mobile and flexible throughout the warehouse. Smartphone technology is only going to keep improving too. You can buy smartwatches and glasses with the same functionality of a phone that can work just as seamlessly for your warehouse.
Historically, there has been one hang up to smartphones in the warehouse: their fragility. According to a survey from the last ProMat Expo, the most important requirement for a mobile phone to be used in the warehouse is its durability. 90% of respondents said that was most important, while 64% said smartphones fell short in that category. It’s hard to thrive as a technology when you fall short in users’ eyes for something so important.
Fortunately, strides have been made in smartphone technology since when the survey was taken last year. Lucas reports that the newer Samsung Galaxy phones actually have higher durability ratings than some industrial devices. You can even buy an Otterbox case for a relatively small cost to greatly increase its strength.
Most importantly, smartphones enable users to pick at greater speeds. At Modex this year, Lucas showed just how much faster case-picking can be performed using a smartphone. Your workers will be able to do more for less.