Tablets in manufacturing and wholesale distribution, once so trendy, is now commonplace. Gartner predicts 33 percent growth in mobility devices, which includes tablets, in manufacturing through 2015. Just the same, if your organization doesn’t use tablets yet, there are a few issues you need to consider first.
Tablets offer a number of advantages over either PCs or manual methods. They can run monitoring applications and other programs without being tied down to a desk. They can link with devices such as barcode readers and scanners to keep track of shipments through the supply chain. The information they provide can be quickly propagated to other parts of the company. And because information is typically typed or entered through a menu, workers don’t have to try to decipher each other’s handwriting.
Altogether, it results in managers being up to 10 percent more productive, and line workers potentially even more than that, writes TabTimes. One distribution warehouse found that its workers could pick, on average,14 percent more orders per month while reducing picking defects by 20 percent, Computerworld writes. Another organization that implemented a tablet system estimated that the time employees spend tracking inventory was reduced by about 30 percent.
Because tablets can be famously fragile, organizations typically use sturdy protective cases for them. In addition, some companies such as Intel and Panasonic design “ruggedized” tablets built to take the rough treatment of a factory floor or distribution warehouse. Other organizations design field-certified tablets intended to be used safely around electricity and chemicals. While ruggedized and certified tablets can cost up to ten times more than the consumer devices some companies use, they save money in the long run by lasting longer and being safer.
Another potential problem to solve with a tablet is that sometimes they’re too portable and go walking off, deliberately or inadvertently. Companies can prevent this by attaching the devices to carts and by ensuring no data is stored on them, or by using geolocation to make sure devices only have access in certain places.
Companies also need to make sure tablets are “locked down” to prevent users from downloading applications to them and otherwise using them for unauthorized purposes. Not only might the employee be playing Candy Crush instead of watching the line, but some applications could interfere with the performance of work applications. However, keeping these issues in mind, tablets can bring many benefits to your business.
Does your company currently use tablets? What software do you use on them? We’d love to hear your thoughts.
Steve Leavitt, GM of U.S. Cloud Solutions for Exact