Article | March 26, 2014

The Best Of Bar Coding: How To Choose The Right Device For Scan-Intensive Applications

Sarah Nicastro

By Sarah Nicastro, publisher/editor in chief, Field Technologies
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Scan-Intensive Barcoding

In Field Technologies magazine, we’ve discussed the fact that for scan-intensive mobile applications, consumer-grade devices might not be able to keep up. That being said, how do you sift through the variety of enterprise-built, bar code-capable devices out there? We recently interviewed the thought leaders below on this topic. Here’s the advice they have for you on how to weed through all of the enterprise-grade devices that provide bar code scanning capabilities to select the right one for your organization.

Tom Burke, vice president of mobile product marketing, Datalogic ADC: First look for the right manufacturer/supplier for your data collection needs.  Make sure they have been around for a number of years and are not subject to the latest wave of consolidations in the industry (which can cause new products to go obsolete quickly due to redundancy).

Second, select the right device for the application. Look at the environment where the device is being used (dusty, dirty, wet, can be dropped on hard surface, etc.). Verify what types of bar codes will be scanned (1D vs. 2D and what symbology), what distance they typically need to scan from, how often they need to scan bar codes, how much keyboard data entry, etc. Check what battery autonomy is required and select the right capacity battery for the job. Check the ergonomics with the actual users of the device to verify what they think is the best device for their daily tasks.

Third, look at what configuration and deployment options are available (and at what cost) to make it easy to activate new devices and manage them.

Rachel Blair Winkler, product manager, Trimble Navigation, LTD, Mobile Computing Solutions Division: The myriad of options available for enterprise hardware can be intimidating and confusing when it comes to picking the right solution; however, the customizable, integrated enterprise solution proves best for most companies’ needs over time. The ever-changing landscape of consumer technology will add additional challenges for maintaining work continuity and productivity.

Evaluate your workers’ current daily challenges and pick the hardware with the functionality that provides them with 100 percent of their workflow. That may be as simple as scanning and syncing to Wi-Fi or as advanced as syncing encrypted data from a variety of integrated sensors with location information to the cloud through WLAN and WWAN communications. The key is to match the hardware with your enterprise needs for today and the future.

Jay Lauer, Marketing Manager, Opticon: A wide variety of factors need to be taken into account when one is trying to decide on the right enterprise-grade mobile device. Besides the bar code scanning technology alternatives (camera or dedicated bar code scanner), one should consider the specific needs of the end user which typically involve the device ergonomics (size, keyboard functionality, screen size and display readability, weight and balance, etc.), operating conditions as they relates to ruggedization, battery life and remote communications needs and of course, ease-of-use. 

From the corporate perspective, factors to consider include the total cost of ownership (TCO), mobile software application requirements, device operating system (OS) platform, communication options, support and training demands, maintenance and repair choices, product lifecycle or lifespan, upgrade and accessory options, mobile device management (MDM) and security platforms, and the vendor’s financial health, experience, and available resources.