Rugged Devices for Supply Chain

Rugged devices have become one of the most in-demand tools in almost all types of industry. After all, mobile connectivity has become a crucial factor in manufacturing, storing and transporting goods. Through rugged tablets and handhelds, companies can ensure that deliveries are on time and inventories are on-point. Rugged devices in the supply chain will soon become a necessity. As the operational landscape of this industry continues to change owners or managers need to consider the tools that every employee uses. Employees in the supply chain must use reliable tools. The supply chain includes a number of “sub-industries” such as manufacturing, warehousing, retail, and courier or delivery. Thanks to the range of tasks involved in this multi-industry workers require devices that will help monitor goods and products. These devices must rise above the typical consumer product, should be extremely durable, and powered with the right features.

Supply Chain During Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about changes that are never seen before in the supply chain industry. As global human and economic changes are happening, supply chains are doing their best to overcome unique challenges such as supply shocks, demand shocks, closures, lockdowns and more. To help overcome these challenges, supply chain companies rely on mobile devices to stay connected. Even with minimal human interactions (due to social distancing), these manufacturing companies, warehouses, retail, and delivery services are able to stay connected.

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Devices In The Supply Chain

From sourcing raw materials to delivering items to homes, the supply chain relies on the exchange of data and information. This is an impossible feat in the past that has seen great changes with the help of mobile devices.

Radio Frequency (RF) Devices

RF devices have been widely used for a long time in the supply chain sector. These rugged devices are well suited for the manufacturing, warehouse, and delivery sector. RF devices are helpful in scanning barcodes, keeping track of products throughout their journey from raw materials to the customer’s front doors.

Smartphones and Tablets

Specialised RF devices are expensive. Therefore, many firms use commercial-grade smartphones and tablets instead. In a published research by Arc Advisory Group, commercial smartphones are the most common mobile device used in the supply chain and logistics sector. The reason behind its popularity is its ease of use. Workers are familiar with these devices and software or apps added is easy to learn. Bigger screens such as in a tablet also offer more visual options for your supply chain operation.

Rugged Devices

Rugged devices are becoming a popular option thanks to its total mobile solution. Devices such as the Conker SX50 have a barcode scanner, giving employees a better way to collect data, stay connected, and reduce errors. Whichever devices you choose, achieving digital transformation and moving away from manual processes will tremendously improve your supply chain operations. It will save you time, reduce costs, and enable excellent services for your customers.

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Achieving Digital Transformation in the Supply Chain Sector

There are numerous benefits when companies digitise their manufacturing, warehousing, and delivery operations. Some of the most important benefits are: 

• Enable a demand-driven operation – A demand-driven supply chain is a dream for any kind of management. However, without a digital system, this is an impossible feat. Digital transformation allows companies to adjust their products and services based on the current demand. It is also through digital transformation that companies can speed up manufacturing bestsellers and cut their losses. 

• Optimise supply chain lead times – Digital transformation helps improve lead times for raw materials. This allows companies to reserve their capacities and ensure factory and warehouse availability. 

• Reduce stockouts and markdowns – Optimising lead times and responding to the demands of consumers. Markdowns can drastically reduce profits and stockouts can result in missed sales. 

• Improve cost management – Digital transformation can help improve cost management and cash flow.

How rugged devices in the supply chain sector achieve digital transformation

The ability to click into digital transactions and access data are vital for any kind of industry. Besides, it helps avoid poor productivity. Rugged devices can play a major role in digital transformation by allowing companies to adopt various digital functions. Thanks to the robust built of rugged devices it can function continuously even when exposed to demanding environments. That means the multiple networks involved in the supply chain can stay connected at all times. According to a report by Peerless Research Group, at least two-thirds of companies among a range of industries are expected to invest in mobile devices. The research further stated that tablets and handhelds are the most common devices that these companies are investing in. While the upfront investment in rugged devices may be higher, this amount will significantly reduce over time. In another survey, “Improving Supply Chain Efficiencies,” mobile devices are widely used in supply chains. Some of the most common are:

  • Barcode scanning for inventory tracking and management – 59% 
  • Packing, picking, and sorting – 56%
  • Inventory management and tracking  – 56%
  • Shipping and receiving – 56%
  • Restocking and put-away – 39% 
  • Item, box or pallet, and container-level tagging – 37% 
  • Quality control – 28% 
  • Asset management – 27% 

Common Challenges in The Supply Chain

The supply chain is an entire system that involves, producing, storing and delivering a product to an end-user. As a result, the supply chain network involves multiple other industries like manufacturing, warehousing, delivery, courier, retail and more. Since each of these sectors requires the need to connect and communicate, the supply chain is constantly facing numerous challenges. 

Handling Errors Warehouses and delivery involve handling thousands of raw materials and finished products. It is essential for the entire workforce to always keep track of the orders. Additionally, workers should also reduce the number of errors made. 

Maintaining Accurate Records Keeping track of all the activities in a warehouse and delivery can be made simple using digital transformation. Reliable software and robust hardware can enhance data visibility and maximise services.

Keeping Costs Low Using advanced digital technology like a rugged device and reliable software can improve a warehouse operational efficiency.

What Makes Rugged Devices Perfect for The Supply Chain Sector?

There are dozens of ways rugged devices can be beneficial for the supply chain sector. From helping executives manage inventories, collaborating with partners, updating stakeholders, and monitoring the delivery process real-time. All of these tasks are easier when done using a rugged device. Executives and employees in this sector require mobility in difficult locations like warehouses, over the road, retail stores, shipyards, on-the-move, to front doors. Basically, for a supply chain to work, every person must instantly feed, access, and exchange data. However, using a regular consumer mobile device in demanding environments will always be a disadvantage. Most commercial devices can easily break, become damaged or result in downtime. Hence, devices used in this industry should be sufficiently tough, can withstand drops, extreme weather, and waterproof. The longevity of rugged devices makes it a perfect choice for this industry.

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Rugged Devices in The Supply Chain Industry Support Mobility

Mobility Is critical in any supply chain operation. Mobile devices allow real-time operational visibility, improves decision-making and hastens order processing. In addition, it also helps improve customer service from the warehouse to delivery. In fact, most activity in the manufacturing, warehouse, and delivery sector happens on “the edge”. This means along the border of the central network. It reaches into warehouses, on shipyards, over the road, in retail stores, and finally to consumers. As a result, instantaneous, secure, and accurate access to data is a must. Unfortunately, these are demanding environments that may require extra performance from the tools that you use. Your workers will be totally dependent on the uses of these rugged devices. Rugged devices play an important role in ensuring everyone finishes their tasks on time. Manufacturing employees, truck drivers, warehouse staff, and store clerks all require devices that are properly made to help them provide critical data. These devices must be robust enough to withstand unique conditions such as in the field, when used during travel, extreme temperatures, dropped, or more. Unfortunately, despite these challenges almost half of all devices used by employees in this sector are consumer-grade. This limits the ability of the industry to provide quality services.

Keeping Workers Connected With Rugged Devices in the Supply Chain

Here are key capabilities of most rugged devices in the market that makes it a perfect choice for the supply chain industry.

  • Fast and stable 4G connectivity and modern SIM technology
  • Reliable wireless and GPS capabilities
  • Dependable connections in a range of network in all types of environments
  • Capability to easily switch between communication modes
  • Multicarrier modems and vendor-neutral data service option
  • Low failure rates and high-performance standard
  • Back-end systems and seamless integration
  • Security that protects device, data and connectivity
  • Exceptional tech support and warranty plans
  • Future proof option such as the potential to tap into developing technologies

Rugged Devices in the Supply Chain Ensure Reliable Connectivity

Mobile workers in the supply chain require reliable connectivity. Unfortunately, constant connection is not possible with regular consumer devices. Connectivity may be highly dependent on network quality – but the quality of the mobile device will also play a major role. The ability to create and sustain strong, uninterrupted connections is crucial when selecting the right solution for your workforce. Rugged devices such as Conker NS6 helps ensure that connection is always on for remote workers.

Security on the Edge

Achieving digital transformation for your manufacturing, warehouse, and logistics opens up your business to numerous opportunities. It helps improve efficiency, relieve capacity and staffing limitations, and improves customer satisfaction. However, these advantages can also create a potential security risk. For example, it can expose your business to unauthorized access and data breach. This is why it is crucial to carefully review the risks and other unique factors when planning mobility solutions. As a result, digital transformation used must be built on industry standards and security standards should be an utmost priority. Rugged devices in the market are equipped with some of the most powerful and reliable operating systems. This ensures that your team can add layers of security to your data.

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Rugged Devices in the Supply Chain are Future-proofing

The use of rugged devices in the supply chain helps companies achieve global success. Therefore, it is the best investment to help future-proof your operations. Rugged devices are typically made with the most reliable operating systems and advance optional features such as an RFID barcode scanner and more. Rugged mobile devices will continue to play a crucial role as organisations move forward to digitally transform their supply chain operations.  

Low Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)

Total Cost of Ownership is an important factor that every business should consider. In fact, the idea of Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is significant for both sellers and buyers alike. Good business owners and managers should research their products so that they can effectively establish the total cost of ownership.   Rugged devices are more expensive upfront compared to a regular consumer device. However, for demanding operations such as in the supply chain, it means your team does not have to worry about breakage, downtime, or constant repair needs. Furthermore, rugged devices also ensure at least twice the lifecycle of regular consumer devices. The longer lifecycle and reduced need for repair and maintenance makes it the best choice for companies.

Choosing the Perfect Rugged Mobile Device

Managing your supply chain in real-time is all about having access to the right data. The most important features are security, reliability and that is able to achieve uninterrupted connections. Your goal should be to keep your workers productive, goods moving quickly and accurately through the supply chain, and achieve a future-proof operation. According to research, reliable wireless connectivity and minimal downtime are the two most important factors for managers to consider for a rugged device. Communication reliability, screen display, and scanning capability are also important features that are usually considered.

Get the Full Solution 

Rugged devices provide a complete solution for your operation. Therefore, brands should consider the features of rugged devices. These features can greatly vary from one device to another.  Consider optional features like vehicle mounting assembly, docking stations, software, peripherals and more. This makes Conker rugged devices the best choice for supply chains operations. Conker’s rugged devices have features that meet requirements from sourcing raw materials to delivery.