When it comes to choosing equipment for your manufacturing business, you probably don’t require much outside help. You know the best brands and can quickly make an informed decision.
When it comes to choosing barcode scanners, on the other hand, it’s not always as easy as it looks. Sure, most scanners seem similar, but when you dig deeper into operating systems, software, functionality, compatibility, security features, ergonomics and warranties it can be overwhelming.
If you’re in this situation now, you’re in luck. EMS Barcode has years of experience selling, implementing and supporting barcode scanning equipment, media, and solutions. We continuously evaluate the latest hardware and media and make recommendations to our clients based on what’s best for them, and we offer this advice freely. Here are five topics we cover in our barcode scanning hardware consultations that can save you a lot of time and money:
- Determine the best form factor. The first step is to hone in on what kind of mobile device will optimize employee productivity. If, for example, the barcode scanner will mostly be in one location (e.g., workstation or mounted to a forklift) a tablet may be the best fit. If the device is going to be used on the move to scan multiple barcode labels, a gun-grip or wearable device would be a better option. If the user needs to be mobile while doing a mix of barcode scanning and data entry, a smartphone form factor will likely be the best option for you.
- Consider your environment. You also need to ensure your device can hold up in the situation where it will be used. For example, if it will be used primarily outdoors, a brighter display and rain/dust protection (i.e., IP65, IP66 or IP67) are must-haves. Also, don’t forget about battery life. If the battery doesn’t last an entire shift before needing to be charged, you’ll need backup batteries that can quickly be swapped out.
- Key software considerations. There are four primary types of mobile operating systems barcode scanners use Android, iOS, Linux, and Windows. To help narrow down your decision, start with the software you want to run on the device. Which platforms does the software provider support, and if they support multiple operating systems, which is their most popular and easiest to support. Also, be aware of limitations associated with each OS. If you go with iOS, for instance, you’re limited to using only Apple products. So, unless you’re planning to do all your scanning with iPhones, you’re out of luck. If you’re going with Android, on the other hand, you’ll have lots of hardware choices.
- Don’t overlook the scanning technology. We often see companies choose the wrong scanner technology. There are two general classes of barcodes: one-dimensional or linear (1D) and two-dimensional (2D). They’re used in different types of applications. For instance, 1D barcodes can be scanned with traditional laser scanners or using camera-based imaging scanners. 2D barcodes, on the other hand, can only be read using imagers.
- Getting your data into your database. Another important consideration is how quickly you need the data captured by the barcode scanner to update your database. If the answer is “once a day,” then select a device that can be docked and tethered to a workstation to upload data at the end of the worker’s shift. If real-time updates are needed, on the other hand, you’ll need a device with a built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or cellular radio.
This list is just a highlight of the points we cover during our free hardware consultations. Our trained staff will observe and get to know your business and provide specific feedback and recommendations that have helped other similar companies. At EMS, we don’t have an agenda to sell a particular set of hardware or services. We take the time to understand your unique challenges and offer customized solutions to solve them.
Feel free to contact us via our website with any questions. We’re available via web chat, email or phone. Keep in mind that our success depends entirely on your success. We look forward to speaking with you. Feel free to visit our landing page or give us a call.