Typically, warehouse operations have deployed dedicated scanners for capturing barcode data in shipping and receiving operations. These devices have served their purpose for decades, but they also come with high costs and may not be evolving to meet the needs of data-driven organizations.

Unlocked devices, however, can serve as a highly effective and affordable tool for inventory management systems. They offer lower total costs of ownership, rapid deployment and a higher level of customization.

Decreasing Cost of Ownership

In the past, smartphones were not considered viable choices for enterprise-grade scanning tasks, but that is quickly changing. Now, mobile devices have much faster processors, higher-resolution cameras and capabilities that can match, if not exceed, the performance of dedicated scanning devices, explains Justin Corbell, vice president of sales and business development for Scandit.

Equipping every employee in a warehouse with a dedicated barcode scanner can be quite expensive. Corbell says when equipped with an app such as Scandit’s mobile barcode scanner, an unlocked device can be an affordable tool to streamline warehouse management and package delivery process. Corbell also explained that warehouse operators can deploy an off-the-shelf mobile device for less than a fourth of the price of a dedicated device.

Migrating these data capture activities from dedicated devices, or adding to the mix with supplemental unlocked phones, can significantly reduce the total cost of ownership.

“These consumer off-the-shelf devices have a lower [total cost of ownership] compared to their hardware counterparts … for the same $1,000, you can deploy four for the price of one purpose-built [device],” Corbell says.

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Smartphones can also offer additional cost savings through increased efficiencies. Mobile devices can enhance the tracking process and authenticate shipments and report damaged or missing items in real time.

Unlike the capabilities of previous mobile barcode scanning platforms, Scandit’s algorithms are capable of scanning blurry and low-quality codes, even in low light. Scandit’s MatrixScan technology can scan multiple codes in a single sequence, enabling the clerk to quickly wave the device across a shipment and capture all codes in view. It can even reduce the time to scan dozens of barcodes from minutes to only seconds.

“We have run some numbers and compared to traditional dedicated devices, depending on the number of devices being deployed, Scandit’s mobile barcode scanning engine can reduce TCO by 30 to 40 percent,” Corbell says.

Increased Functionality

One of the biggest advantages that a mobile device offers over a traditional scanning device is that it can serve multiple purposes. A smartphone allows users to send text messages, make calls and access other applications, eliminating the need to carry multiple devices.

“A lot of these dedicated devices are singular in the type of work that can be done with them. A mobile device can allow you to perform multiple functions,” Corbell says.

Additionally, with the Wi-Fi connectivity options available for unlocked phones, enterprises can ensure connectivity all throughout the warehouse, even if there’s no cellular network coverage.

Smartphones can also be easily customized and upgraded with apps to offer more real-time reporting, business intelligence and seamless synchronization with warehouse management systems. Deploying mobile devices for inventory management can help reduce the adoption curve, as a majority of employees are familiar with smartphone interfaces.

These off-the-shelf devices can be acquired and deployed in little time, without all the carrier-specific “bloatware.”

Samsung’s portfolio offers a wide range of unlocked phones, including the Galaxy Note8 Enterprise Edition, which includes built-in configuration and customization features to easily integrate smartphones into a warehouse environment. For workers in need of an extra sturdy device, Samsung’s ruggedized Galaxy Tab Active2 line of tablets will ensure protection in the harshest industrial conditions.

Corbell says there’s a “growing appetite” for using unlocked devices in warehouse inventory management systems. Lower costs, enhanced functionality and an easy-to-use interface are making them viable competitors to dedicated scanning devices.

See what additional benefits unlocked smartphones can bring to your enterprise.

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Craig Guillot

Craig Guillot is a business writer who specializes in tech and the retail industry. His work has appeared in STORES Magazine (National Retail Federation), Chief Executive, CNBC.com and Wall Street Journal.

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