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The growing supply chain and logistics automation trend is transforming many industrial departments by making them more efficient. New technologies, new equipment, and modernized facilities have been used to help achieve 24/7 real-time tracking solutions for all operations. One such department that has experienced technological transformation is warehouse operations through forklift automation.

Forklift automation in the warehouse operation increases productivity by 25%. To ensure smooth operations and efficiency, modern forklifts in many industries are now being equipped with RFID tags, readers to identify load, and sensors to monitor speed and detect load weight.

Although the introduction of detachable rugged tablets forms factor for off-vehicle workflows has presented a new model of mobile computing for lift trucks, the vehicle-mount design is still one of the most preferred options. With technological advancement, these computer gadgets have been modified to include Android OS and easy-to-use touchscreens.

With these two mobile computing options, users can easily decide which one to use in a warehouse setting so as to improve efficiency and increase productivity. The choice for each form factor is greatly influenced by the working environment as well as the nature of the workflow.

The market trends are changing over time and we are witnessing an increase in demand for easily detachable tablets as many industries continue to test new alternatives to vehicle-mount style computers.

For lift truck operators, there are instances where they are required to do some duties while off- the lift truck. In most warehouse setups, you might find a situation where an operator spends 70% of their work time on the lift truck while the rest is spent on other smaller jobs such as goods inspection, offloading or product labeling that require frequent movements from one place to another. In such a situation where great flexibility is required due to the frequent movement from one place to another, a detachable tablet comes in handy.

Many organizations undergoing digital enterprise transformation are able to save on equipment costs since the forklift operators use the same digital tablet when on truck and off-vehicle. This versatility of industrial-grade tablets makes it easy to mobilize workers and improve productivity. When it comes to real-time communication and sharing of information, it’s easier to do so with rugged tablets.

They easily connect to WIFI and you can switch to a Cellular/LTE network. Such great connectivity is very important in the logistics sector since lift truck operators in the warehouse can easily communicate with their counterparts in the field, transportation yards, or other departments and share crucial information in real-time. Faster sharing of information helps to streamline the workflow and aids in quick decision-making.

However, there are various workflows that are accomplished efficiently only when using vehicle-mount computers. There are various vehicle mount models that are used in lift truck computing. One of the popular models is the freezer-rated vehicle mount computers. They are specifically fitted with heated screens plus other condensing-proof gears to ensure the computer remains in stable working conditions even when operating the lift truck in humid and cold environments.

Therefore, the vehicle mount computers are able to perform optimally in cold storage extreme environment compared to most standard rugged tablet models since they are not “freezer rated”.

These distinctive heating components have automated mechanisms of turning them on to burn off the moisture when the forklift operators steps in and out of the cold storage environment. If lift truck operators were to use rugged tablets in such an environment, there are high chances that they will land into problems.

Some of the common malfunctions include difficulty in reading or keyboard lockup in worse-case scenarios. Vehicle mount computer models are very robust and they guarantee reliability when used in such environments.

Most of the vehicle mount computers that are used by warehouse forklift operators run on Android or Windows operating systems. These operating systems are easy to update and more companies continue to automate their processes, we are witnessing an increase in demand for Android OS vehicle mounts.

Most electronic devices in many organizations run on Android OS due to its robustness and how it offers great room for application development and support. Although Windows OS is still a good option for vehicle mount computers, we are not witnessing a shift to Android-powered computer models. Android OS offers great functionality, personalized support for complex projects, and guaranteed system security and data privacy.

 

Factors to consider when choosing the right lift truck computer

As we have clearly outlined, it’s true that the use of technology simplifies warehouse management and improves warehouse systems and operations. When an organization is planning to buy lift truck computers, there are certain factors that need to be considered. They include the following;

  • Ruggedness

One of the factors that influence the choice of a lift truck computer is its versatility. Since a warehouse is an industrial environment, you need a computer gadget that has the ability to withstand strong industrial environments. Industrial grade tablets sturdy and can withstand extreme cold and hot temperatures.

They can also withstand sudden drops, vibrations, dust, or water spillage. It’s important to note that, although most rugged tablets have IP65 ratings, they are not ideal for use in cold storage since they are not “freezer-rated”.

  • Wireless connectivity

The best vehicle mount computers must have seamless wireless connectivity to enable real-time communication and sharing of data. Check whether your preferred computer model has an inbuilt Bluetooth, WI-FI, 4G/LTE cellular network, and GPS features before you can buy. With better connectivity, it becomes easier to share real-time information with other workers in the field or other departments without any delay.

 

  • Dynamic input/output and user-friendly interface

Lift truck computers should also be dynamic and support different functionalities. Modern rugged tablet models easily integrate with other components such as barcode scanners, USB drives, mobile printers, and external monitors. All these input and output interfaces enhance the usability of vehicle-mounted computers.

A responsive touchscreen is very convenient for the lift truck operator to use in all applications. To ensure you spend less money doing repairs, go for the computer models that have scratch-resistance capacitive multi-touch screens.

  • Ability to offer mounting solutions

To improve versatility and cost of equipment, many organizations prefer lift truck computers that aid in offering mounting solutions. For an efficient warehouse working environment, vehicle-mounted computers should be compatible with other types of mounts.

The ideal choice of computer models for the warehouse environment should be the ones that support either drill installation, no-drill, or even external keyboard installation procedures. Irrespective of the type of installation method, each mount solution for lift truck operations must have the ability to withstand strong industrial and machine vibrations and shocks.

  • Form of power supply

If a computer model relies solely on vehicle power supply, there are high chances that you will experience work interruptions and low productivity whenever there is a power surge. The most ideal models of lift truck computers are the ones that have multiple power input options. They should also have a power ignition control system for instant connectivity and DC-to-DC converters to ensure there is no power interruption.

 

  • Ease of use and maintenance costs

Before you can settle on a certain model of computer for use lift truck computing, ensure that you are familiar with its operational requirements as well as necessary repairs and software updates. For instance, if you want to increase the service time for vehicle-mounted computers, it’s advisable to go for the ones with a filed-replaceable front panel. You should also ensure that replacement materials are readily available in a docking station to also save time spent on maintenance.

  • Forklift operator’s safety and security

The safety of lift truck operators is very paramount in a warehouse environment and nothing should distract them when moving in and around the warehouse facilities. Therefore, when choosing the most ideal vehicle mount computer model, it’s important to ensure that you pick the model that has screen blanking ability. If the forklift is idle, the computer screen should also have the ability to automatically lock itself for maximum security and to prevent unauthorized access.