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Fixed Vehicle Computers or Grab-And-Go Rugged Tablets?

15 April 2021

Fixed, mounted computers have long been regarded as the de-facto standard for in-vehicle computers for a long time, due to their durability and endurance capabilities, however they lack the flexibility of a mobile option and are not easily transportable when in dire need. With the warehouse working environment continuing to evolve to support different work styles and outcomes, a fixed computer may not be the most ideal solution, especially if the work is split between the factory/warehouse and other areas.

The move to change from fixed computers to easily removable rugged tablets is a process that a lot of organisations are taking due to one key reason, the ease of access for when this technology needs to be repaired or serviced.

To learn about the differences between these two computer form factors and whether one is a better fit for forklifts there are a couple of frequently asked questions that stand out to help you decide which device will best support your forklift applications moving forward: 

• Q1: We understand that most forklifts and other heavy machinery used in manufacturing, warehousing, distribution and transportation have historically been equipped with fixed vehicle-mounted computers. Why is that?

• A1: Fixed terminal solutions have been used for material handling applications over the past several decades because they have consistently proven to meet operational performance and durability standards for critical applications and use cases.

• Q2 why are some organisations now compelled to switch to a more mobile, rugged tablet-based solution? Some might argue that “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.”

• A2 Ironically, the “break-fix” scenario is what is driving some organisations to permanently remove fixed vehicle-mounted computers from forklifts and replace them with easily removable rugged tablets. Because of the way fixed-mounted solutions are installed, cables must be unplugged and attachments unscrewed to remove the computer from the mount when it needs to be serviced or transferred to another forklift. This can be inconvenient in today’s fast-paced operational environment, leading to downtime and efficiency losses.

Ultimately it depends on the use case for your computers. For occasional forklift usage, a rugged tablet solution may be more cost-effective because a multi-purpose tablet device can easily be removed from the dock to follow the user throughout their operation. Rugged tablets can also have most – if not all – data capture components built in, which contributes to additional cost savings if you are going to be using the device on and off a forklift, alleviating the need for separate barcode scanners in the process.

Zebra has a whole raft of options on mobile tablet devices from ultra-rugged devices for use in the harshest environments to those more suited to “light industrial” applications. Numerous support features and services, in-house developed enterprise software suites and inter-changeable accessory options add to their appeal, Zebra’s LifeGuard™ platform also provides an extended security solution which delivers Android security and patch updates for up to 10 years.

For those companies looking to maximise return on investment and avoid having to “rip and replace” systems in a couple of years – or months – then Bar Code Data is ideally positioned to walk you through the benefits and potential pitfalls of both form factors in an impartial assessment of your work setting and environment, within the context of your specific operations. We shall happily have a conversation with those companies that need help making the right decision based on current goals and future ambitions.

Mike Jackson, Managing Director, Bar Code Data

For more information, visit www.barcodedata.co.uk