Guest Column | May 22, 2015

Must-Haves Mobile Device Features For Manufacturing And Warehousing

By Bob Meads, CEO of iQagent

Mobile In Manufacturing

Mobile devices are well on their way to becoming integrated into almost every industry, providing new ways to capture data in real time and speed up the process of overall productivity. The advantages of mobility in manufacturing and warehousing applications are continually expanding. New applications are being developed, which are helping employees to pass plant floor inspections and maintain quality control. With more workers becoming connected through devices and mobile apps it has become necessary for developers to consider the types of necessary features that are included on the mobile devices they target.

From a manufacturer’s point of view, there are certain features mobile devices should have when integrating them into the plant floor. “Manufacturing employees are becoming the smart connected worker by taking the technology with them,” said Heather Ashton, research Manager for IDC Manufacturing and Retail Insights. “They're moving throughout their workday connected at all times, which is huge.”

Here are some features to check off the list when thinking about how you can best equip plant floor workers with a mobile device.  

  • It is certified for hazardous conditions. The manufacturing and warehousing industry comprises certain environments that are constantly under hazardous conditions. Making sure the mobile device is certified to perform under these conditions makes it much more appealing to the manufacturer when deciding to deploy them on their plant floor.  
  • It has a viewable display in industrial settings. Many screen systems on tablets aren’t viewable in direct sunlight or when viewing the screen at an angle. Therefore, plant workers in the field, or who are using the tablet to troubleshoot in a tight space, may not be able to use the device at all. Make sure the mobile device you choose has a display that is readable in daylight and at different angles.
  • It proves durable. Being incorporated in an industrial environment, there is a good chance there will be rugged conditions the mobile device will have to withstand. If a device is exposed to extreme heat, dropped on concrete or consistently being placed around fluids, a device with a shockproof, waterproof and stable feature is a smart idea. A device failure caused by harsh environments can cause downtime for replacement. To avoid this occurrence as much as possible, make sure your devices adhere to MIL-810-G and IP68 standards.
  • It will integrate seamlessly with existing plant applications. Productivity is the main goal in the manufacturing industry. With a variety of apps and operating systems, being able to provide a real-time management and reporting tool is extremely beneficial for manufacturers. If the device’s operating system is not compatible with existing plant SCADA, ERP and MES systems that can provide these capabilities, you can’t accurately track efficiency. 
  • It is compact. While moving throughout the plant floor, it is necessary to be able to carry the mobile device from machine to machine. The device should be light and ideally able to be held in one hand. There should also be hands-free solutions for the device to enable use by a wider variety of plant workers. Between various technicians and engineers working on the plant floor, the tablet or mobile device they are using should be suited to meet their needs without getting in the way of their daily routines.

The mobile device used on the manufacturing plant floor should enable users to perform their daily tasks more efficiently. These features are just the essentials, but there are many others available to provide the support for your plant floor. The manufacturing industry is going mobile. Get ahead of the game by ensuring yours solutions can withstand the conditions and also provide the technological support needed by saving time, money and reducing risk.