Every warehouse needs to manage and control inventory, coordinate communications, and manage tasks and workflows as efficiently and accurately as possible. That is why we’ve been seeing a big trend toward the use of rugged warehouse tablets instead of traditional handheld mobile computers in many warehouses.
Rugged enterprise tablets offer a number of key advantages over industrial handhelds, and, in this article, we’ll take a look at those benefits, why it often makes sense to use tablets in the warehouse, and why Zebra’s new ET60/ET65 tablet is one of the top devices you should consider.
Let’s take a look at tablet advantages and then what Zebra’s ET60/ET65 can do for you in particular.
Advantages of Rugged Warehouse Tablets and Zebra’s ET60/65
Ultimately, there are many advantages to using rugged warehouse tablets, but here are some of the top reasons why warehouses have been investing in these devices to complement their industrial handhelds or replace them altogether.
Larger Screen Size
The single biggest advantage of a tablet over a smaller device is that the screen size is so much larger. As an example, Zebra’s ET60/65 rugged warehouse tablets have a 10.1-inch screen that renders at a size of 1920 x 1200 pixels, and that typically translates into a major improvement in worker productivity and workflow efficiency.
Since a larger screen can display far more data and information, mobile tasks and workflows can often be completed in fewer screens and fewer steps. Everything is also typically rendered larger, which makes information easier to read and buttons and other on-screen controls larger and easier to use.
In warehouse tablet implementations that our team at Vantage ID has helped roll out, we’ve seen up to double-digit increases in worker productivity and efficiency from this single improvement.
To get the full advantages of a larger screen, however, your apps will need to be auto-responsive to different device sizes. Fortunately, nearly all leading warehouse management systems, ERP systems and other inventory management solutions already have this capability. However, if you’re using your own custom-built apps, they may need to updated or modified.
Another big advantage of rugged warehouse tablets is that they’re extremely versatile devices. With devices such as the Zebra ET60/65, they’re not just a mobile computer. They can be used as a vehicle-mounted computer for forklifts, and they can be used as a 2-in-1 replacement for desktops and laptops as well.
An optional friction-hinge keyboard allows the ET60/65 tablet to be used like any other vehicle-mounted, office, or workstation computer. Plus, you can use the tablet’s built-in camera or an optional built-in barcode scanner to quickly and easily capture data, such as 1D/2D barcodes, without needing a separate scanning device.
Zebra’s ET60/65 also has a new patent-pending vehicle dock for mounting in a forklift or other material handling vehicle. All device features are easily accessible when the device is docked. The touch panel and optional keyboard are also heated when locked into the vehicle dock, which keeps them free of condensation and potential damage if you use your tablet and keyboard in freezers or other condensing environments.
Importantly, if you mount the device, you can power it through the host vehicle, eliminating the need to purchase and maintain batteries.
Tablets are also great communication tools, where you have access to Wi-Fi, optional 5G wireless networking, support for private 5G CBRS networks, Bluetooth, and push-to-talk capabilities. Since tablets also come with HD front and rear-facing cameras, they’re great for video calls and online meetings as well. This means you can use a tablet to stay connected to your workforce in real time from virtually anywhere, without needing to juggle different devices.
Today’s rugged enterprise tablets now have processing power, memory, battery life and other specs that are on par with some of the fastest laptop devices. For example, Zebra’s ET60/65 tablet comes with Qualcomm™ 6490 octa-core 2.7 GHz processors, 8 GB of RAM, and 128 GB of UFS Flash memory. This provides blazingly fast app response times, and since the ET60/65 is equipped with the latest WI-FI 6 capabilities, you can get data rates of up to 6 GHz, while optional 5G networking means you can access mobile and private cellular networks with considerably faster speed and performance.
Additionally, Zebra’s ET60/65 comes with an 8,920 mAh standard battery or 17,840 mAh extended battery for up to 5.5 hours of continuous power, even when running the most resource-intensive apps and performing intensive scanning and other tasks. When you need to charge, you can use the USB Type-C charging port or the optional device dock.
The battery is also hot-swappable, so you can remove a drained battery and swap in a fully charged battery without having to power off your device or interrupt your apps and workflows. As we touched on earlier, if you mount your tablet in a forklift or other vehicle, you don’t even need a battery, since you can power it through the host vehicle and dock.
Built-In Barcode Scanning
With rugged enterprise tablets, you have two options when it comes to barcode scanning, but both of them rely on built-in capabilities that help you get more productivity out of your device.
If you only capture barcodes and other data occasionally, you can use the 16 MP rear camera and the integrated software on Zebra’s ET60/65 to capture barcodes right out of the box. But if you do more intensive scanning at higher volumes, you can choose Zebra’s optional built-in SE55 1D/2D Advanced Range scan engine with Intellifocus™ technology. This allows you to capture virtually any barcode in practically any condition in a split second, from a range of near contact to up to 40 feet away.
Additionally, with Zebra’s advanced scanning and decoding algorithms, you can potentially capture form fields, signatures and much more.
Efficiency-Boosting Android Workflows
Finally, another huge benefit of rugged warehouse tablets is that many of them are now built with the Android operating system, which is the new interface of choice for most hardware manufacturers and millions of enterprise users around the world.
Android offers a simpler and more streamlined interface that is extremely easy to use and instantly familiar to most workers, who use Android or Apple’s similar iOS on tablets and smartphones at home. This allows them to complete mobile tasks and workflows faster and more efficiently, without the clunkiness, slow response times, and limitations of Windows mobile.
Android is also a robust and powerfully secure enterprise-grade operation system, particularly with Zebra’s Mobility Extensions (Mx), which give warehouses complete control over every device, app, network connection, and user access. Zebra’s Mx and its Mobility DNA tools include many useful utilities and apps to help you stage and deploy your devices, create more efficient and intelligent scanning and data capture processes, configure virtual keyboards to match your workflows, and much more.
With Android, you also get a much longer support and security update period, even beyond Google’s standard five-year coverage. With Zebra’s LifeGuard™ for Android™, you get regular and timely OS and security updates throughout the life of your tablet. And you have complete control over when updates are applied, using Zebra’s Mx tools and Android’s over-the-air updates.
We’ve saved one of the best and most important advantages of rugged warehouse tablets for last. These devices are extremely rugged and durable because they’re not built like a consumer-grade tablet.
For example, Zebra’s ET60/65 is built for the warehouse, so it has military-grade drop specs to withstand drops to concrete from up to 5 feet. It also has IP66 sealing against dust, dirt, and full-force hose-downs. It also offers resistance to extreme humidity (5% to 95%), extreme operating temperatures (up to -22° F to 140° F/-30° C to 60° C), thermal shock, electrostatic discharge, and even solar radiation and salt fog.
Importantly, the device also has a shatter- and scratch-resistant Corning™ Gorilla™ Glass touch panel display and exit window for the optional scanner. The 1000-nit touchscreen offers extreme brightness for virtually any lighting condition, and it’s easily usable with a fingertip, gloved fingertip, or optional conductive stylus.
Learn More and Get Pricing from Vantage ID
If you’re looking to boost productivity and efficiency in your warehouse while you enable better mobile computing flexibility and save on costs, our mobile technology experts at Vantage ID highly recommend rugged tablets and Zebra’s ET60/65 device.
To learn more, download our spec sheet for more details, and contact us for a personalized price quote and tips for how you can use this device to transform your warehouse workflows for the better.