Tag Archives: industrial tablets

tough tablets

Industrial Tablets vs Off-the-Shelf in the Field

Since 2010, Apple has seen tremendous success after the corporation released it’s first iPad tablet, launching a new market and being the trendsetter in a new line of mobile technology products. As recent as 2016, Apple’s global market share has reached 25 percent for tablets, leading Samsung by approximately 10 percent. It’s clear that this market has seen tremendous growth and application in the past 7 years—Apple sold more than 40 million iPads alone in 2016. However, what we’re looking at is largely representative of the consumer market for tablets and not the industrial market. It’s likely the case that an industrial company settled on Apple products for mobile productivity in the past, but there’s an important financial factor that’s hard to see on a day-to-day basis; the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is an estimation of expenses related with buying, deploying, using, and then retiring of a piece of equipment or product. Industrial companies focus a lot on TCO, but consumer grade tablets aren’t best in the long run for industrial companies. Generally the TCO for a tough tablet is lower (better) since they last longer. Here’s an in-depth look at why.

Tough Industrial Tablets Utilize a Hot Swappable Battery

If you’ve ever tried to remove the internal battery for a tablet, it was probably a frustrating and educational experience. Most tablets are sealed, so battery removable and replacement either requires someone who has experience getting into the innards of a tablet, a trustworthy individual with a steady set of hands who can learn quickly, or device shipment to the manufacturer who can replace the battery if the tablet is within warranty. If it’s not within warranty, expect to pay around 100 USD for a battery replacement and a turnaround time of 3-5 days with no promise of restoring all the previous data. If you’d prefer to remove and replace the battery yourself, kits often cost around as much as a manufacturer’s price for a battery replacement anyhow. That’s not a strong outlook for a business, especially if the tablets have no backstock, leaving at least one employee with no way to be productive. Or, you could just swap out the removable battery on the tough tablet instead and resume productivity. Not only does this removable battery functionality affect TCO greatly, it prevents production downtime. Plus, if a battery doesn’t hold a charge, others are available to purchase. The hot swappable battery function justifies the cost alone. It can take productivity from a few hours to a full work shift—or more, depending on how many people on different shifts use one tablet. One tough tablet with three batteries can be used continuously over the course of an entire day instead of three separate tablets in use, each potentially lasting the time span of a shift and then stored away to charge. Again, industrial tablets have a lower TCO.

Tough Tablets Need Tough Glass, and More

Some tablets use Corning’s Gorilla Glass, an alkali-aluminosilicate sheet of glass that is highly resistant to scratches, direct damage, and drops. Gorilla Glass has become a staple in tough tablet and smartphone manufacturing, but it’s not indestructible and a lot of videos have surfaced online demonstrating it can shatter if a tablet is dropped in sensitive areas—usually a corner. Industrial tablets are known to use Gorilla Glass and often have housings to protect the corners, which iPads and other consumer-grade tablets lack. Sure, a CFO can get protective cases for tablets too, but a rugged case can hit the wallet at about 80 USD—another cost consideration when going with consumer tablets. Why buy more when an industrial tablet comes with the protection? The last accidental drop a warehouse needs is one that shatters the glass on a tablet, potentially rendering the device useless. Tough tablets are built to withstand shocks and vibrations.

Tablets Tend to Bend

A quick search online reveals that consumer tablets aren’t the most resilient to warping. Some have actually shipped bent in the past, and others warp so much the glass actually shatters. Couple that in an industrial warehouse with temperature changes—not a favorable result. Even aluminum and stainless steel are known to warp a few microns because of temperature changes in machine shops, so we’ve come to expect sheets of silicon, aluminum, and glass to do the same. Industrial tablets are built to withstand temperature changes, vibrations, shocks, and accidental damage, extending their life beyond what a consumer would expect. Built with industrial-grade components, these tough tablets have a Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF) timespan of six years. Consider that the original iPad released in 2010—several models of the iPad have been released between then and 2017, suggesting that one industrial tablet will last longer than several iPad generations. Again, lower TCO for the industrial tablet.

Capacitive is Great Technology—but Not For Industrial Tablets

Working in a warehouse often requires gloves—regular gloves, unless you buy capacitive-knit gloves (which are expensive and don’t provide much protection), don’t work on capacitive screens. Capacitive technology uses the electrical charge from our hands to actually register a change in voltage, thus changing the elements on screen. With a gloved hand, the electrical charge doesn’t register. Consumer grade tablets usually use capacitive screens, so a gloved hand won’t work. Industrial tablets use resistive screens so a gloved input can actually register. Sure, employees can take off their gloves and work with a tablet screen, but that’s quite a tedious annoyance.

These reasons clearly outline why tough tablets are the best choice for an industrial setting. Consumer grade tablets warp easier, batteries aren’t easily replaceable, gloved hands can’t interact with their screens, operational life is shorter, and there’s a higher TCO. Consider that the MTBF for an industrial tablet is longer than the lifespan for several generations of iPads and other tablets! You don’t want your employees to suffer productivity downtime over charging batteries or sending a broken tablet off to a manufacturer over one drop—unless you prefer spending more money over time.

 

 

5 Key Aspects of Running An Effective Mobile Inventory Solution in Retail

Supply chain companies now face more challenges in tracking and expediting their inventory than ever, as the multichannel retail landscape shifts from “I-want-it-now” to “I-need-this-yesterday.” In order to stay competitive, retailers need to have an up-to-date knowledge of where things are, in what quantities, at all times. They need to be able to rebalance inventories, redirect shipments, and respond to whatever new demand arises immediately.

Among the most important trends for retail industry this year forecast by Vend, one of the industry experts, are three particularly important points:

  • Merging online and offline data collection and analysis. As consumers go through different paths to a purchase, retailers need to start analyzing online and offline data combined.
  • Single-view, cloud-based solutions. The modern retail strategy requires a unified view of the multiple channels of sales, inventory, and customer visibility. Cloud-based solutions enable retailers to scale quickly, work from anywhere and execute their multichannel initiatives with more efficiency as they get a timely insight into key aspects of their business. It is important to maintain an up-to-date item file, accurate inventory levels and pricing system across multiple channels. Several years ago, when many retailers went online, they maintained separate systems for online and offline sales, which became an important technical roadblock companies are now overcoming through the adoption of cloud-based IT solutions powered by rugged industrial tablets.
  • Adoption of Internet of Things throughout the supply chain. From barcodes to RFID beacons, retailers are leveraging the IoT in their warehouses and stores. IoT in retail is estimated to have an economic impact from $410 billion to $1.2 trillion per year by 2025. Forward-thinking retailers pioneer the adoption of the smart devices to streamline various business processes from inventory management to in-store shopping.

5 Key Aspects of Running An Effective Mobile Inventory Solution

  1. Desktop-to-Mobile Compatibility

    Inventory management software increases warehouse and shop staff efficiency when checking inventory, stocking shelves, transferring goods from the central warehouse & vendors. Most retailers have by now adopted an inventory management solution in their networks, and the primary software solution is deployed on Windows-powered desktop PCs. How do you scale that powerhouse of an application to mobile?Many software providers port their desktop programs to mobile operating systems, but that transition often comes at a cost of reduced functionality and crippled usability. So, why change operating systems?Windows-based industrial tablets are compatible with most desktop programs retailers run on their desktop systems, so users won’t run into any learning curves when switching to the mobile version. The functionality and usability are preserved while retailers run the full version of their preferred software on a mobile device.A fully-fledged mobile solution that is completely compatible with your enterprise resource planning system (ERP) cuts down the costs of deploying a third-party mobile inventory solution and integrating it with the ERP, an expensive and challenging process. It’s much easier to deploy solutions that are compatible with your existing ecosystem from day one rather than trying to bridge fundamentally different systems together.

  2. Barcodes and RFID

    Handheld barcode scanners and RFID devices are things of the past now that industrial tablets come integrated with these previously external peripherals. Standalone scanners and readers only capture some type of inventory data. It then needs to be synced with the main retail management program. Such devices tend to be expensive to program, integrate and maintain, and difficult to use.With the barcode reader and RFID scanner integrated into your rugged tablet, your employees collect, sync and create actionable reports on the go. This immediate data availability boosts the accuracy of inventory management.Through the use of RFID technology, your employee’s industrial tablet can be used to recognize where the employee is in the warehouse or in the store, and present the employee with the relevant options and information for the given location.RFID is also used in inventory management solutions to track inventory availability and alert the employees when a product is soon to be out of stock.

  3. BYOD vs Industrial Tablets

    Retailers widely adopt Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) strategy, assuming it’s cheaper and easier to deploy than providing corporate devices to the employees. However, BYOD & poor cybersecurity awareness of users is a part of the reason why the retail industry is plagued by cyber threats. The criminals are after financial data they can monetize, and retail is the industry to hit, with the large databases of vendors, consumers and employee banking data, Social Security numbers and other personally identifiable information.BYOD devices add more work to your IT staff when scaling the system for a fleet of different devices running different OS’s, and having to look for a mobile solution that would be compatible with the variety of BYOD assets.Industrial tablets provide robust cybersecurity functionality complete with easy-to-use two-factor authentication with a biometric reader, CAC or smart card reader, full disk encryption, capability to encrypt data on external hard drives, capability to set up a tablet for multiple users with access controls, remote wiping and remote access for the ITs to update software of introduce timely changes.

  4. Ruggedness

    Inventory management requires your workers to be mobile and flexible. Hence, the mobile device has to be easy-to-operate and reliable. Rugged technology comes with a slew of advantages:

    • A carrying handle, strips and light weight simplify tablet handling.
    • Hot-swap batteries, a charging station for 24/7 uptime.
    • Military-grade components with the fail rate of less than 2% under constant use.
    • MIL-STD and IP65 drop protection, shock, vibration, temperature fluctuation and water protection for reliability in any out-of-the-office environment.
    • Integrated barcode, RFID, CAC or smart card reader paired with biometric reader increase the functionality of a single device.
    • Can be mounted on a wall, inside a vehicle, on a desktop.
    • Full disk encryption, capability to encrypt data on external drives.
    • Highly customizable OS, software and legacy ports.
    • Advanced wireless connectivity and support of the carrier of your choice.
    • Easy to deploy, cheap to maintain, low TCO if compared to that of consumer-grade mobile devices.
  5. Cost of Hardware

    Windows-powered industrial tablets do not require any intervention by your programmers, so the deployment cost is the cost of the hardware. When calculating the total cost of ownership of your industrial tablet, take into account:

    • integrated scanners and readers, which eliminate the need for bulky and expensive peripherals necessary to make IoT work;
    • it is rugged and durable, with 5+ years of continuous uptime;
    • hot-swap batteries, charging station for 24/7 uptime;
    • it is compatible with the inventory management software you run on your desktops;
    • failure rates of industrial tablets are normally 4% (it’s 2% with Cybernet’s devices) while the failure rates of consumer devices skyrocket 15%-30% when they are used intensively in working environments where they can fall, be exposed to humidity or fluctuating temperatures;
    • industrial tablets offer better security to maintain your corporate data protected from breaches whereas BYOD devices are looming with malware, spyware and ransomware stemming from poor user cybersecurity awareness and the lack of hardware-level in-built security functions.

Agility and performance in retail inventory management can be leveraged to their full extent when the dedicated software runs on a powerful, secure and reliable hardware such as rugged industrial tablets.

Smart Factories and Their Use of Industrial Computers

Smart factories are rapidly replacing their traditional counterparts. By cutting costs, reducing labor requirements, and shrinking the space needed for operation, smart factories are able to increase production, raise profits, and improve customer satisfaction.

What Is a “Smart” Factory?

Smart factories are operated from an industrial computer, which controls the smart camera that allows the system to operate. Smart factories differ from traditional systems in a variety of ways. The predominant difference is the elimination of the errors that can result from human manual operations. Automatic inspection by machines means consistent output along every step of the factory process, providing consistent quality.

But smart factories have other benefits as well. They can help to lower production costs, as they eliminate much of the human labor that must be paid in a traditional factory. They also have increased productivity, because the entire system is automated and runs smoothly, with less risk of error. The consistency of production also means better customer satisfaction with the finished product.

Why Are Industrial Computers Essential for Smart Factories?

An industrial computer must be used because the system has to be rugged. Factories produce a variety of products, many of which can cause wet or humid conditions, spread dust, or produce a lot of vibrations. Industrial computers can hold up to whatever rugged elements a factory throws their way, while also providing the processing power needed to run the smart system. The computer also must be small, as smart factories being created in traditional factories often lack the space necessary for large, bulky technologies.

When it comes to operating smart factories, the vision system dictates the work that can be done, the quality of the work, and more. Smart cameras utilize multiple different technologies, including image sensors, storage space, and processing capabilities. While a more powerful smart camera may be able to execute more complicated tasks at a faster speed, they also take up more space and require more power for operation.

A larger camera may also require a fan if there isn’t space to regulate heat, but in a factory space, moving parts like a fan represent the threat of failure, which can shut down the entire system. Rugged industrial computer systems, such as Cybernet’s Fanless Rugged Mini PCs, help to eliminate the need for a cooling system, as they are better able to withstand temperature changes than lighter systems.

What Add-Ons Are Available for Industrial Computers that Are Specific to Smart Factories?

Smart factories utilize other technologies alongside their industrial computers as well. Many smart cameras can now be connected with HMI or a screen at the production line, rather than communicating only with a control room. The ability to have a screen on the production line means that problems can be caught far earlier in the production process. This presents the need for an industrial panel PC, such as Cybernet’s iOne N19, which can allow an operator to monitor and control any step of the process with ease. If an error occurs, production can be stopped or adjusted almost instantly. The industrial panel PC, like the computer itself, is rugged, and can withstand the elements within any factory space.

Another option available alongside industrial computers are industrial tablets. These make working on the factory floor or quickly and easily shifting operations a breeze. Cybernet’s Rugged X10 10.1” Industrial Tablet, with its waterproof and shockproof build, weighs just 2.2 pounds, but is powered by Intel i5/i7 CPU with vPro. Their rugged build makes them perfect for use anywhere and in any factory, while their processing power make them great for working on the go when a traditional computer is not available. Many industrial tablets, including the Rugged X10, also have cellular capabilities, which can allow operators to work from anywhere, which can help to speed up production and increase profits.

The iPad Versus the Industrial and Manufacturing Industry

There is no doubt that the iPad has its place in the world of consumer electronics.  Apple and mass media marketing have done wonders to ensure you believe the best tablet out there is the iPad.  This is partly due to the genius of Apple itself.  Marketing is large part of the iPad’s overwhelming popularity, but there’s also functionality to consider.  It is hard to believe Apple when they make claims that the iPad is “ahead of the game” in the realm of portable and tablet technology.  When compared with industrial tablets or rugged PCs, the iPad quickly falls short.  If you work in an industrial sector, try to imagine bringing your iPad into the volatile world of manufacturing and industrial work.

If you work in an industrial setting on a daily basis, it is easy to see how things can go south quickly, especially with a consumer-grade electronic.  This is a demanding environment and it isn’t one that is easily navigated by the iPad.  In the world of commercial and industrial enterprise, rugged tablets are the logical choice.  A rugged tablet gives you durability, power and reliability – everything you’ve come to expect in the digital age.  A rugged tablet is specifically designed for this type of environment, and it is not only functional, it’s also the most capable option.

Durability

There are a lot of options for durable cases with iPads, but when push comes to shove, they could never withstand the daily abuse of a rugged work environment.  When you’re working in a challenging environment, you want a tablet that will hold up to the abuse you’ll be putting it through on a regular basis.

IPads are not equipped for manufacturing and industrial work activities, plain and simple.  As a consumer grade electronic, the harsh nature of the commercial work environment would put an iPad through the wringer.

It’s glaringly obvious that the iPad isn’t rugged or tough.  It may be slightly durable, but that doesn’t mean it can handle the industrial applications that require a true rugged tablet.

Functionality is also compromised, as well. In warehouses and other industrial workplaces, it is sometimes necessary to wear work gloves while on the job. You cannot use an iPad with a glove on your hand, but many rugged tablets are designed to be used with gloved fingers.

In these particularly rugged work environments, contact with moisture and fluid is always a possibility. An iPad is not waterproof, while many rugged tablets are. They are specially made to protect your software and applications against the elements of the humid, gritty work atmosphere you encounter on a daily basis.

Applications & Software

 We all know that the iPad can be great for playing games or other entertainment apps. Even basic office applications can be utilized on an iPad device. However, in the commercial work environment, rugged tablets accomplish the workload by utilizing applications made to keep your business running smoothly.

You can find applications that help with productivity, inventory, time sheets, accounts and more.  Some of these applications even include warehouse or scanning software, or other ways to manage your work orders.  They provide true streamlined workflow from the main warehouse floor to the backroom industrial office.

There is no doubt that there is a place for iPads, but it is obvious that the industrial world is not it.