What to think about before investing in new rugged computers

What’s your first thought when you start procuring new rugged devices? Spec, cost, supplier? What about your employees or the importance of testing? In this blog post, Robin Beesly, Business Development Manager at JLT Mobile Computers, talks you through five things to consider so you get the best solution for your business.

Technology context today and tomorrow

The first thing to consider is the technology context of your operation. With technology changing fast, think about the technology you’re running today and what you intend to run in the future.

What apps do you use? Server, device or cloud based? What operating system (OS) are you running? Are you, for example, planning to migrate from Windows to Android? What about imaging? Standard or custom?

What about accessories and peripherals? Do you need your new devices to be compatible with existing kit, or are you going for a total upgrade?

Make sure you explore solutions that are future-proof and that you can use for several years to come.

Your physical environment

Secondly, you need to have a clear idea of the physical environment in which your devices will be used. What’s going on in the multiple locations you have? Is your operation purely indoor? Or do you need the devices to work outdoor too? What about the weather? Are there extremes in temperature, freezers for example?

If you operate in cold storage or other extreme temperature environments, make sure your IT equipment is designed for such harsh conditions.

Of course, if you have multiple locations, you need to consider each of them. It might be tempting to choose one type of device, in a single model and configuration and then purchase a whole bunch in one go. But are you sure they will be suitable for every site?

What about connectivity? You need your rugged computers to maintain a consistent connection to the network at all times. Generally, this is not easy to achieve with forklifts or vehicles moving quickly between access points (APs) and thick walls or shelves being in the way. Is your network working well enough to provide a stable connection, or are you due to upgrade it?

Consider how rugged your devices need to be and why. Then make sure you choose products and services that fit your specific conditions and demands.

Getting user acceptance

You also need to think about your employees. After all, these are the people who will be using the devices on a daily basis. Making sure they have the right tools to do their job will help deliver value back to the business.

Easy to carry and intuitive to use, Android handheld devices are popular among warehouse staff.

Think about how devices will be used, and who will use them, then pick devices that fit these needs. Will the users be wearing gloves? What size screen do they need? What functions will make them more productive? What about ergonomics? And don’t forget to always put safety first.

Listen to the users and make sure you search for devices that actually make their day to day job easier and hassle free.

Test and test again

Once you have got a picture of your needs and you’ve selected potential suppliers, it’s crucial to test the equipment. A common mistake is to only run tests in the lab, which can give a false picture of how the devices will work.

You need to get your devices out to IT and into the hands of your staff. This way you can make sure they work in your environment, integrate well with your other technologies and that your employees feel comfortable using them. Don’t just test for one day at one location. Test for at least a couple of weeks at multiple locations so you don’t get any nasty surprises later on.

Look for a reliable partner

Even if you have carefully followed all my suggestions so far, you will not get a successful deployment if you don’t have a supplier that is also a solution provider and a long-term partner. Look for a company that wants to get to know your operation from the ground up. One that can deliver today and for years to come, across all your sites.

Contact me at [email protected] if you have any comments, questions, or want to find out more about how we help companies such as yours find the best rugged computers for their business.

Guest blog submitted by JLT Mobile Computers

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