06 January 2022
Within any warehouse, operational efficiency, real-time
visibility and operational accuracy are key. Trying to find a Warehouse
Management System (WMS) and the mobile computing device that offers the best
combination to achieve this is critical. It can also be quite a challenge given
the number of device options available.
Whether you are looking to implement a new, or upgrade of
existing warehouse devices, one of the biggest questions you’re likely to ask
yourself is whether to opt for rugged, semi-rugged or
consumer devices. It’s important to consider all the options for your business,
as selecting the incorrect device could result in frustrated users, decreased
productivity and increased costs. So, what is the difference between consumer
and rugged devices and what would work best in your warehouse?
What is the difference between a rugged and a consumer device?
A consumer device is a smartphone or tablet that is used for
both business and personal use. Looking up inventory data or sales
reports are examples of common business uses, however, they are particularly common in
“bring your own device” or “BYOD” scenarios, such as electronic proof of
delivery (EPOD) applications, whereby a worker will download a mobile app on
their own device to fulfil work-related activities.
The next level in rugged devices is a semi-rugged device
which is a mid-way point between consumer and fully-rugged devices. These tend
to have a low IP rating and
are typically equipped with semi-rugged components. These components allow for
them to be stress-tested and certified to industry standards.
Alternatively, a fully rugged device has been specifically
designed to be used in commercial environments and boast features such as high
IP ratings, barcode scanners and have the ability to withstand extreme
The main differences between fully rugged and consumer
- Cost – Most consumer devices will be cheaper
than rugged devices in the first instance and therefore can be tempting when
cutting costs. However, when considering the cost of ownership over a
longer period of time, rugged devices come out on top as they have a longer
product lifecycle in both technology and durability.
- Durability – Due to their design, rugged devices
can withstand shock, moisture, heat and impact and so are less likely to fail
compared to consumer devices.
- Security – It’s important for businesses to be
aware of potential security threats to their operations, and although any
device can be susceptible to attack, consumer devices are more likely to be
infiltrated than rugged devices are.
- Ease of use – As most individuals use a consumer
device day to day, they are going to look more attractive for ease of use as
they’re familiar and smaller. Depending on their use, rugged devices are better
suited to some conditions as they are glove operable and have better visibility
in a range of lighting environments.
Which type of device is best within a warehouse?
Cold storage warehouses
Although consumer devices have evolved in recent years, they
still don’t meet the demands of tough warehouse environments such as cold
storage. Rugged devices, however, are designed to withstand the cold, wet and
moist conditions they would be subjected to in low temperatures. Some devices are
made specifically for cold storage warehouse environments and can be operated when
the user is wearing gloves or in low light.
As well as cold storage warehouses, there are other types of
tough and hazardous environments for which fully rugged devices are more suited
for such as chemical, retail warehouses and port logistics. All of these
hazardous environments have different needs and therefore impact the device
specification and rugged requirements. This can include devices being ATEX certified and meeting other legal health and safety standards.
As consumer devices continue to develop and become more
technologically capable, some devices are now able to scan barcodes. Although
it is possible, it’s important to remember that they may not be able to withstand
a demanding warehouse environment. In comparison, rugged barcode scanners or
the TouchStar TS5000 would be more suited to a busy and harsh environment. Specially
designed to be resilient and consistent, investing in a rugged device would be
better for warehouse environments where downtime caused by damaged devices
would cost a business time and money.
Find out more
If you’re looking to move from consumer to rugged devices or
would like to find out more about our range, get in touch
today. Our team of experts are on hand to help answer your questions so you
make the right decision for your business.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR - PETER MARSH
Peter joined TouchStar (formally Belgravium) in a sales manager role in 2001. Prior to joining the company, Peter held Partner and National Sales Manager roles within the parcel and logistics industries.
In 2011 Peter was promoted to Sales Director and is now actively involved in promoting the value of TouchStar’s Rugged Mobile Computing solutions to the warehouse, logistics, manufacturing and field service industries. When not involved in the business, Peter is a keen and enthusiastic football and cricket fan.