Lift Truck Tips: Tablets break free of the fixed mount
Ruggedized mobile computers improve productivity on or off the lift truck.
Latest NewsState of Logistics 2016: Pursue mutual benefit Differing comments prevail for STB’s proposed reciprocal switching regulations AAR reports mixed carload and intermodal volumes for week ending October 22 NAM to lead coordination and production of Manufacturing Day XPO Logistics sells North American truckload business to TransForce More News
Latest ResourceCase Study: LEAN Yields Big Results Every day, companies across a wide range of industries use LEAN in their supply chains, warehouses and distribution centers, finance departments, and customer service centers, among other areas. LEAN practices improve safety, quality, and productivity by extracting cost and waste from all facets of an operation – from the procurement of raw materials to the shipment of finished goods.
As technology rapidly improves, on-board computing has added incredible productivity and visibility for lift truck fleets everywhere. However, the pace of that improvement has some customers concerned that they will be left with obsolete computer equipment within a few years.
Given the intensity of many lift truck applications, customers also wonder if new computing equipment will hold up or result in costly and time-consuming repairs. Mark Holleran, president of Xplore Technologies, says recent improvements in durability, modular component design, and user interface are enabling customers to get even more from their on-board computers while ensuring a productive future.
The current trend in warehousing/distribution, says Holleran, is to move away from fixed-mount devices to more mobile platforms.
“If, say, 20% of the fleet is down at any given time for charging, repair or off shift, the device is also down,” says Holleran. “Similarly, if the computer is down, then so is the lift truck.”
With easily detachable on-board computers, the customer can purchase and maintain fewer devices. This kind of flexibility can even enable devices to serve a number of purposes in a facility, says Holleran, from wall-mounted time clocks to GPS units.
Holleran says the second key shift in mobile computing is the preference for tablet-style computers with touchscreens. Customers want stylus and touch capability, and studies show that the intuitiveness of touch interfaces increases data accuracy, says Holleran. An additional benefit of the widespread use of tablets is the ease of training. “To some extent, training for these devices and their software is built into the ambient culture,” he says.
Customers want to be able to do on-site repairs for things like hard drives and ports that become damaged, he says. Some tablets now offer tool-less hard drive removal, tool-less access to the SD memory card, and as little as four screws to access the memory chips. These features allow for quick upgrades, repairs and data transfers in the field.
Durability is also essential, says Holleran. Units should have a minimum five-year lifespan, he says, as compared to an 18- to 24-month rotation cycle for desktop computers. Unlike desktops, industrial tablets must contend with industrial environments, like rough floors and minimal suspension.
“You need industrial-class components, not just a hard shell on a consumer-grade product,” says Holleran. “They call those products ‘semi-ruggedized,’ but customers need real-world rugged.”
Read more Lift Truck Tips.
About the AuthorJosh Bond, Contributing Editor Josh Bond is Senior Editor for Modern, and was formerly Modern’s lift truck columnist and associate editor. He has a degree in Journalism from Keene State College and has studied business management at Franklin Pierce University.
Subscribe to Logistics Management Magazine!Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Get timely insider information that you can use to better manage your entire logistics operation.
Start your FREE subscription today!
European Logistics Update: Post-Brexit U.K. moving ahead, but in which direction? Badcock Home Furniture &more: Out with paper, in with Cloud TMS View More From this Issue