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Future Proofing Your Mobile Computers

Posted July 16, 2012

How the Features You Select Now Can Protect & Extend Your Investment Years into the Future

Rugged mobile computers deployed to warehouses, DCs and other transportation and distribution environments often aren’t used as long as expected, and as result cost the organization more than expected. Companies typically replace their DC computers after about 3 1/2 years, which is approximately seven months sooner than planned at the start of the deployment, according to a study. Rugged devices can actually last even longer, but are retired prematurely because the processors, software, communications data capture capabilities contained within the rugged housing are considered inefficient or obsolete.

Extending service life increases the value of mobile computers. When life cycles go down, so does the return on investment, and the total cost of ownership (TCO) goes up. The table below illustrates how changes in the replacement cycle impact the TCO for mobile computing deployments. It reflects how much the purchase price of a $3,000 rugged computer used in warehousing and distribution contributes to the annual and monthly TCO. Note that replacing mobile computers after 31/2 years instead of four (which is about the average intended life cycle) increases the annual TCO allocation by $107, or 14.2 percent.

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How e-Citation Systems Increase Productivity & Revenues While Improving Officer Safety

Posted June 29, 2012

Electronic citation (e-Citation) systems represent one of the most succcessful uses of mobile and wireless technology in public safety operations. Electronic citation systems have earned high user satisfaction ratings from state highway patrol agencies, police departments, parking authorities and campus security organizations across the country because of their well-proven ability to save time for officers, improve safety while issuing tickets, reduce errors and illegible tickets, and improve collection rates.

The only significant obstacles to more widespread use of electronic citation systems are insufficient awareness, understanding and budgets. This white paper will provide the background information needed to pursue an e-Citation initiative, plus benefit data and tips to help win funding for it.

e-Citations in Action

The Snohomish County (WA) Sheriff’s Office experience with electronic citation systems is typical. Deputies in the traffic unit each used to write about 12 to 15 paper citations a day. Each citation took four to five minutes to write, and a similar amount of time back at headquarters to enter into the computer system. With 20 traffic deputies working on a typical day, the sheriff’s office collectively spent between 43 and 47.5 hours daily writing and entering citations.

Snohomish County switched to creating citations on handheld computers, which produce a copy for the offender on a vehicle mounted printer and automatically download the citation information to the headquarters computer system without manual data entry. Productivity – and citation revenue – have since soared.

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The Power of Mobile Printing in the Warehouse and Beyond

Posted June 12, 2012

In today’s precarious economic environment, global enterprises are experiencing a dual pinch: one, difficult times have cut operating budgets significantly, and rehiring to support growth after the contraction remains difficult; secondly, as investments in new equipment and systems have been delayed or denied, the optimization of warehouse and supply chain processes has become a critical factor in balancing costs, labor, and assets. What’s more, this optimization must occur while maximizing productivity and improving responsiveness to customer demands.

With the growing emphasis on cost cutting, companies need to find new and better ways to enhance efficiencies and ensure accuracy across their supply chains and distribution networks. One strategy that is still effective in helping achieve this goal is the implementation of greater mobility into warehousing and distribution functions through devices such as mobile printers.

According to a recent study, mobile devices and software commonly improve workforce production by 20 percent or more. This translates into lower labor costs, lower operating costs, and faster payback on investment. Such gains are not hard to envision. By minimizing the time needed to print labels and apply them to materials, work in process, finished goods, pallets, boxes, and so forth, mobile printers help drive down labor costs while improving performance on the warehouse and DC floors.

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Mobile Labeling in the Warehouse or Manufacturing Facility

Posted April 2, 2012

Industry Need

Bar coding is a critical component in maintaining accuracy and efficiency in a warehouse environment. Shipping, receiving, and cross docking, picking and packing, shelf labeling, and tote labeling applications are integral to successful operations. Increasingly, companies are leveraging mobile labeling solutions in these applications. By enabling workers to print labels at the point of activity, mobile solutions enable a more flexible workflow, increased productivity, and fewer errors. Intermec’s integrated mobile printer and Duratherm media products deliver a comprehensive array of choices to meet these needs.

Shipping, Receiving, & Cross Docking

Mobile printing solutions enable workers to quickly generate barcode labels and apply them directly to items as they are unpacked or staged for shipment. Workers wearing belt-mounted mobile printers can re-label pallets and individual cases on the spot, reducing transit time between pallets and a central label printing location to optimize efficiency.

Picking & Packing

The picker’s belt-mounted printer, responding to print commands from the wireless network, generates a pick ticket to guide order fulfillment. After collecting all items needed to close an order, this receipt material serves double duty as the customer’s packing slip. Once the order is scanned complete, a new pick ticket is automatically printed for the worker’s next task.

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Mobile Admission Ticket Printing

Posted March 29, 2012

Industry Need

Fixed ticketing locations suffer from significant limitations when servicing peak attendance volumes. Limited processing points cause bottlenecks that severely restrict flow, causing delays and dissatisfied customers. This can create safety issues with excessive crowds congregating and limit event purchasing to a captive audience within a venue location. Adding stations requires significant investment without adequately addressing dynamically changing service environments.

Advances in mobile ticket printing have enabled users to overcome these limitations by moving ticketing to the point of activity. Taking transactions to the customer places processing points where they are needed most, increasing throughput and reducing wait times. However, this application is not without its challenges. Key requirements must be met for mobile ticketing success; these needs include media with appropriate durability, look and feel, speedy printing, and rugged, reliable equipment.

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E-Citation Printing

Posted March 26, 2012

Industry Need

With increasing pressure on budgets, police and municipal operations are driven to increase productivity and revenues; citation programs pose a common target due to the high-touch environment. Adoption of e-citation among public safety agencies is rapidly increasing due to a quick ROI driven by increased accuracy, legibility (yielding decreased dismissals) and reduced or eliminated manual data entry. However, the ticketing environment has significant performance challenges. Hardware components such as computers or printers as well as citation media must often operate in punishing environments.

The two common E-citation applications have significantly different media requirements.

For parking and local ordinance violations, the citation must endure challenging service conditions. Vehicles are commonly unoccupied, requiring the parking enforcement agent to secure the ticket to the vehicle, often under a windshield wiper. These tickets are directly exposed to rain, snow, wind, and sunlight, conditions which can rapidly degrade common materials. Quick completion is a priority for efficiency; when agents encounter owners returning to a citation in progress, rapid execution is critical.

The time required to issue a citation is also important for moving violations. Drivers commonly complain about the time consumed when being cited. Additionally, exposure to moving traffic poses a safety hazard to both parked vehicles and officers, making rapid citation processing a top priority. While print quality requirements remain high, durability needs are lower since the printed citation is delivered directly from the officer to the driver.

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Acosta’s Mobile Solution Speeds Time-to-Shelf for Candymaker Just Born

Posted March 22, 2012

Zebra Printer Helps Cut In-Store Time and Get Inventory on Its Way

About Acosta Sales & Marketing

Founded in 1927, Acosta has grown from a local food broker to become the leading outsourced sales and marketing agency serving consumer packaged goods companies and retailers across the United States and Canada. The company’s integrated approach engages shoppers at every point along the path to purchase and ensures that clients’ products are strategically positioned to most effectively convert shoppers at the shelf.

Challenge

You may not know the name Just Born, but you likely know their candy. The national confectionary company makes names such as Mike and Ike’s, Hot Tamales and marshmallow Peeps.

A couple of years ago, the company recognized an untapped opportunity—to get its candies into more convenience stores. Just Born turned to Acosta, which brings technology, expertise and connections with tens of thousands of stores nationwide, including an attractive segment of 30,000 independent convenience stores.

Once in stores, Acosta must help keep Just Born’s regular and seasonal candies on shelves. When Acosta reps check inventory at stores, they need a quick and simple way to print shelf tags and UPC-coded reorder lists for store managers.

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Maximizing the Image Life of Direct Thermal Receipts and Wristbands

Posted March 22, 2012

Direct thermal printing dates back to the 1960s and was originally designed for copiers and fax machines that utilize chemically coated paper. It has since been transformed into a highly successful print technology for bar coding.

Direct thermal media is essentially a self-contained printing system. It is manufactured by applying surface coatings to the media with a chemical formula that includes colorless dyes and developers. When the media goes through a thermal printer, heat (thermal energy) from the thermal printhead causes the dye and developer to activate and form a high-definition image. The thermal printhead consists of many heating elements distributed along its printing width. Each element is electronically controlled to deliver the correct amount of energy to an exact location for an exact amount of time. Those individual elements are strobed by the printer to form the final image—text, graphics, and bar codes. Fully saturating or imaging direct thermal chemistry is key to obtaining the most durable direct thermal image. Producing a less than fully saturated image will reduce the image life when exposed to various contaminants or environmental conditions.

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McAllen Police Department Reduces Dismissed Tickets by Half

Posted March 21, 2012

E-Citation Produces More Legible Tickets, Increases Revenue

About McAllen Police Department

The McAllen Police Department (MPD) serves the McAllen, Texas, metro area, with a population of about 130,000. Just five miles from the U.S.-Mexico border and the Mexican city of Reynosa (with a population of 500,000), the city’s size can grow by 200,000 to 300,000 commuters each day. The MPD employs 272 sworn officers and approximately 380 total employees.

Challenge

Like many police departments, MPD had long issued hand-written paper tickets to offenders. The manual process left room for errors in two places:

  • Point of issuance—Handwritten ticket information could be incorrect or illegible.
  • Municipal court—Administrators occasionally entered dates, locations, license numbers, or license plates incorrectly.

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Schenck Company Invests in Durability for Demanding Delivery Environment

Posted March 21, 2012

Beer Distributor Chooses Zebra RW 420 for Proven Ruggedness

About Schenck Company

Since 1954, Schenck Company has provided beverages to the Central Florida region, which includes Orlando and coastal resort towns. From just six employees, the company has grown to 600 associates and serves 6,000 customers. Now within the top 20 beer distributors in the country, the full-service distributor represents MillerCoors, Crown Imports, Heineken USA, Diageo-Guinness, Boston Beer and other domestic, import and craft breweries. A commitment to its employees and customers has helped land Schenck among Florida’s top 100 privately-held companies.

Challenge

Every day, 90 Schenck delivery drivers bring hundreds of cases to retailers. With each stop, they verify orders, capture the customer’s signature electronically and print a receipt.

For several years, the company has relied on a combination of handheld devices and mobile printers; however, the demanding delivery environment quickly wears down the electronics.

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