In 2017, the number of cell phones being used worldwide is estimated to be 4.77 billion which means that just about everyone has a low-cost, high-resolution digital camera at their fingertips. With that said, you might be thinking “Why not use something I already own for barcode scanning”?
In August many of us celebrate National Dog Day to honor our four-legged friends. Technology continues to merge with almost every aspects of our lives and that includes our pets. To be exact, RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) is the technology used in micro-chipping our pets. The specific technology used is Passive RFID, which is relatively inexpensive. Other advantages of Passive RFID are its lifespan (around 25 years) and its size (about the size of a grain of rice), making inserting the microchip a very simple procedure that doesn't require anesthesia.
Passive vs Active RFID
Two basic and very different types of RFID exist, both with unique advantages and disadvantages.
- Passive RFID - A Passive RFID tag does not have a power source within the tag, but instead relies on the RFID reader for power. Because of this simple fact, Passive RFID tags are very inexpensive, making it affordable to tag down to the item level of more than just high-value items.
- Active RFID - On the other hand, an Active RFID tag has a battery within the tag itself, making them considerably more expensive than Passive RFID tags. On the up-side, however, Active RFID tags have very long read ranges.
Barcode Printing Automates Church Raffle
For many of us the weekends are a time to push away from our desks for a few days. But on at least one weekend a year, ADI sales rep Mike Barker takes his knowledge of label printing systems into the weekend for his church’s festival.
The festival at St. John’s is the largest public event in the city of West Chester, Ohio with crowds topping 30,000 visitors over the 3-day event. Mike is using barcode printing to automate ticket purchases for the basket raffle which has grown to more than 90 baskets.
An Evolving Print Solution
St. John’s festival has been going on for over 20 years, but it wasn’t until 12 years ago that automating the ticket process began. “Lazy Label” was created, which printed contact information on a laser label that was then adhered to the raffle ticket. “Nobody wants to write their name and phone number hundreds of times” says Mike. This first step in automation added a “convenience factor” and buyers were more than willing to pay the $1 premium for this service.
Three years ago, the process was upgraded again to laser printed tags, eliminating the need for both a label and a ticket, but the process was still somewhat slow and the cost of the tag was expensive.
Automation is Driving Ticket Sales
The current solution, put in place last year, uses a four-inch wide industrial printer, printing a direct thermal tag. Along with contact information, a barcode is also printed, allowing raffle winners to be validated by scanning the winning ticket. And with the addition of the barcode, it is much harder to counterfeit tickets, making the current printing solution fast, low-cost and secure.
Expediting the process has increased ticket sales, which have steadily grown over the years. This year Mike estimates they will print 150,000 raffle tickets, validating that automation, even in a "non-traditional" application, leads to positive results.
BYOD Policies are Becoming the Norm
So you've made the decision to allow your employees to bring their personal devices to work. You're in the majority! According to Honeywell, embracing this policy is a "win-win proposition."
The upside of a BYOD policy is twofold. User's are familiar with their own devices and productivity typically increases, as little to no education is required to get up and running and device acquisition costs are lower.
The downside, and it's a big one, can be comprised security if an IT policy specific to personal devices, is not put in place.
The following is an except from an Application Brief recently published by Honeywell, discussing what a BYOD policy does in terms of IT security for your company.
"To keep your organization and its data safe, consider just a few of the many problems that a BYOD policy can help you mitigate:
- A system for registering devices has to be in place; otherwise, unsecured devices might compromise your network.
- Ultimately, users will be responsible for following the rules of securing their devices. You’ll have to monitor and enforce compliance.
- Without proper safeguards, users might lose or unknowingly compromise your sensitive data, or they may introduce viruses that spread across your network.
- You’ll need ways to prevent users from removing security controls or copying sensitive data from email, calendar and contact applications to other applications on the device or to another unregistered device."
Sage advice! Included in the application brief from Honeywell is a template for creating a BYOD policy for your organization. Read the full brief.
For more information on choosing rugged or consumer devices, read our blog from February 2015
What is “Chain of Custody” and Why is it Important?
In the legal system, chain of custody is defined as “the chronological documentation or paper trail, showing the seizure, custody, control, transfer, analysis, and disposition of physical or electronic evidence”. – Wikipedia
Chain of custody ensures only authorized individuals come in contact with evidence, from beginning to end. In a criminal case, where a defendant’s guilt or innocence is, in part, decided based on evidence, the importance of a tightly controlled chain of custody process cannot be overstated.
Though the terminology is different, barcoding creates an automated "digital" trail, creating documentation on what something is , where it is or where it's been, who has it, where it's going etc.
Automation is the Key to Success
Recently, ADI partnered with 2GO software to deliver "chain of custody" control for specimen tracking. The application required tightly controlled documentation of a courier responsible for the daily pick-up, transport and delivery of lab specimens. Using Honeywell's Dolphin Black and 2Go’s Proof of Delivery software, ADI found the perfect solution. Easily scalable and customizable, the POD software automates the courier process and with signature capture and GPS time-stamp features on the Dolphin Black, the solution provides complete visibility and traceability throughout the process.
Going back to the definition of chain of custody, here are some of the features that provide checks and balances for each of these critical steps in the process.
Seizure (specimen pickup) – signature capture provides proof of when a specimen is picked up. The time-stamp feature pinpoints the exact time the specimen was received. The software also allows a photo to be taken of the item being tracked, linking the photo to the data, to show condition or other attirbutes of the item.
Additionally, the 2Go software can use GPS to map the most economical route for specimen pick-up.
Custody - At any time, a driver’s whereabouts and the specimens in his custody can be monitored.
Control - Transaction history provides a documented history of where and when the specimen was transferred from one control point/person to another during the entire process, pickup to delivery.
Transfer - Signature is captured at the time the specimen is delivered to the designated final location, closing the loop on the process.
"Chain of Custody" in Your Business
Beyond this example for specimen tracking, chain of custody is used in a diverse number of ways. Some examples are: file tracking for law firms, insurance and mortgage companies, tracking of high-end retail items such as jewelry and in manufacturing for tracking tooling and calibration devices to name a few. Even in the art industry, chain of custody documentation can be used to augment “provenance” for a piece of artwork. I’ll admit, some of these applications are more obscure than others, but all equally important to the people requiring chain of custody documentation.
What do the terms Seizure, Custody, Control and Transfer translate to in your business? Receipt, Inventory Move, WIP, Sale . . .
How could an automated "chain of custody" process help your business?
All Chargers Are Not Created Equal!
We’ve all been there . . . you need to make a call, but your phone only has one bar and there isn’t a wall plug in sight. Borrowing or swapping chargers between devices is common practice, especially for consumer devices and most of the time this is a solution that works.
Many non-iOS devices (consumer and enterprise) use micro USB ports for charging. One might assume that a standard cell phone charger and cable would suffice to charge a mobile handheld device with a larger battery, multiple radios etc. This may or may not be the case, because all chargers, nor cables, are created equal.
Though the form-factor and user interface of an enterprise handheld device is similar to a retail Smartphone, the similarities stop there. The functionality of a multi-radio mobile computer draws power at a much higher rate than a Smartphone. Add extended battery options commonly used for enterprise applications, and the amount of power required to charge an enterprise device in a reasonable time period becomes more significant.
Guidelines for Charging
Many cell phone wall chargers and 12v volt car adapters typically provide charging/operating power ranging from 5 volts @ .5 amp (500 milliamps) up to .9 amp (900 milliamps). Some are higher. USB ports on PCs, laptops and USB hubs typically provide charging/operating power at 5v @.5 amp (500 milliamps) also. Theoretically, these types of chargers would eventually charge an enterprise handheld device, but at a considerably slower rate. But if the device requires 2 or more amps and is on and “running”, the mobile device may not charge at all, even when connected to a low power charger.
Optimum charging for most enterprise handheld devices, is best at an input voltage of 5v @ 2.0 amps or higher (or as called out on the device rating plate). In addition, the USB cable should be a 28/26 or 28/24 cable to achieve the best results (faster charging times). Thin (28/28) inexpensive retail cables (28/28) may reduce the benefit of using a more powerful charging due to the wire size.
The same holds true for many of the more sophisticated SmartPhones, tablets and the like. Like enterprise mobile computers, they may require a charger that provides more amperage to achieve the fastest possible charge time. Check the power specs on your mobile device and compare it to the power specs on you wall charger. The charger should always be in the same voltage range and at an amperage output equal to or higher than the mobile device.
The Bottom Line
Consideration of battery needs and charging options is a critical part of the mobile computing solution. The time it takes to fully charge a device can be as important as the amount of active use time you get from the battery charge itself.
In the world of manufacturing and distribution there is a seemingly endless combination of facility layout, equipment, inventory, and network infrastructure that affects a good wireless implementation. That's why the importance of a site survey cannot be overstated. Read more about your options . . .
It’s that time of year again! The boys of summer take the field for six glorious months of America’s favorite past time! Here in Cincinnati, Opening Day is a National Holiday and the city comes out in a big way for the home team. I’m sure it’s the same for baseball cities across the US.
So what does Opening Day have to do with the technology space we play in? These days, barcode and RFID technologies are playing a more important role not only in baseball, but across professional sports.
Security and Convenience
For years, possibly decades, tickets to sporting events have been bar coded. This greatly automates the processes of entering the sporting venue, and adds an invaluable degree of security if you decide either to buy or sell tickets from a third party source.
Beyond the traditional barcode, RFID is enhancing the fan experience. “RFID technology provides event organizers and team personnel a way to rethink the fan experience and make every part of it more efficient. With RFID technology, there is no need for a barcode to be scanned entering the stadium. As long as fans have a chip embedded somewhere in their clothing, wallet, or purse, they can simply enter through an RFID-enabled turnstile with relative ease compared to an old-school ticket”
Contact ADI to see how we can help you enhance your "fan experience"!!
The Ultimate in Bar Code Scanning
This is the one scanner you can turn to for all your toughest scanning needs. The 3600 is offered with 6 different scan engines, ranging from a liner imager to a variety of 2D imagers for high performance, high density, long range and direct part scanning. With this variety, the 3600 can handle any application on the manufacturing floor or in the warehouse.
Performance . . . by the Numbers
- The 3600 itself has two sealing ratings—IP67 plus IP65—making it dust-tight and waterproof
- The cradle has an industry leading IP65 rating
- The 3600 offers 23% more durable than any other scanner in this class withstanding 8' drop to concrete and 5,000 tumbles
- The 3600 offers 56% more battery life offering up to 70,000 scans per charge
For more information on the 3600 visit our website
Consolidating AIDC Market makes for an Interesting "Family Tree"
It is undeniable the AIDC market has consolidated. With a few exceptions, Honeywell and Zebra, now dominant the market.
The genealogy of these giants is interesting to say the least. Each company took a slightly different path to get where they are today.
Prior to the acquisition of Handheld Products, Honeywell did not play in the AIDC space. However, a strategic and methodical acquisition plan that has played out over the last 8 years has built Honeywell into a market leader.
December 2007 - Honeywell purchases Handheld Products. This is the first acquisition that brings Honeywell into the data collections space.
April 2008 - Honeywell acquires Metrologic Instruments, a leader in bar code scanning technology and hardware.
August 2011 - Honeywell acquires LXE. With the acquisition they add rugged hand-held and vehicle mount computers to their product line.
September 2013 - The purchase of Intermec is finalized, rounding out the Honeywell product offering with bar code printing and RFID. In the acquisition, Honeywell also gets the products and expertise of Norand and UBI (United Barcode Industries) which Intermec purchased in 1997.
March 2015 - Honeywell acquires Datamax-O'Neil and adds to their expansive line of bar code printing solutions.
Zebra's path to market leadership was very different from Honeywell's. Zebra has always been the market leader when it comes to bar code printing technology. But what they lacked was the mobile computing, scanning and networking side of the business.
1998 - 2012 - Zebra makes a number of small acquisitions that strengthen their position as a leader in bar code printing;
- 1998 - Zebra acquires Eltron, a leading manufacturer of mobile printers
- 2003 - Zebra acquires Atlantek and enters into to the card business
- 2007 - Zebra acquires Wherenet, an RFID provider
- 2012 - Zebra acquires LaserBand, provider of patient ID wristbands
October 2014 - Zebra finalizes the purchase of Motorola Solutions giving them an end-to-end data collection offering. With the purchase, Zebra acquires 40 years of bar code innovation from Symbol Technologies which Motorola purchased in 2006. Prior to this acquisition in 2006, Symbol had purchased Telxon in 2000 and their 25 year legacy in data collection.
The process of consolidating companies (especially large ones) can be frustrating if product availability and customer service levels dip during the transitional period. But these frustrations aside, I believe the consolidation of the market is positive. In my mind, the sum is greater than its individual parts with both companies offering cutting-edge technologies and one-stop-shopping for any aspect of your data collection needs.
Contact ADI to discuss your data collection needs!
It used to be the only place wearable technology could be found was on the wrist of Dick Tracy or in a good James Bond film; futuristic gadgets used by the good guys to thwart the evil intentions of the bad guys.
Today, wearable technology is not a futurist fantasy, but a reality.
The Honeywell Solution
Honeywell offers a unique solution. A lightweight, wearable accessories transforms the Dolphin 70e or Dolphin 75e handheld computer into a wearable computer. Paired with the 8600 ring scanner, this wearable solution is easy to deploy and offers numerous benefits.
As a general guideline, medical experts recommend 10,000 steps a day as a good level of activity for personal health. To get to that number, I walk everywhere; taking the long way just to elevate my step count. However, the same 10,000 steps may not be a sign of health in your business . . . especially when it comes to your label printing operation.
Centralized Label Printing
Printing labels at a centralized location and then bringing them to the point of use is petty standard practice in many business. However, centralized printing has it's flaws. It may seem like a big deal, but it does take time to walk back and forth to a centralized place to pick up labels. And if changes are required, the trip is being taken more than once.
Labeling at the Point of Use
As evidence by the study conducted by Zebra Technologies, mobile printing brings label printing to the point of use and can significantly increase productivity throughout the supply chain. Read the Full White Paper
However, if you already have stationary printers that are doing a good job of printing labels, you may not have the resources to invest in mobile printers.
Never fear. Newcastle Systems has the answer . . . Mobile Workstations!
Newcastle Systems provides mobile workstation cart solutions to suit the specific needs of a broad range of industries including manufacturing, distribution, retail, healthcare, and education.
Because of the activity level in a typical warehouse and the importance of knowing exactly what you have in inventory and where it is located, the DC is a good place to start when considering mobile workstations for labeling at the point of application.
Wondering which unit is best for you? Visit our website for more information on mobile workstations from Newcastle Systems
Are there areas in your organization that could benefit from labeling at the point of use? Not sure where to start? Contact us to start the conversation!
January 13th is National Sticker Day!
Picked to commemorate the birthday of R. Stanton Avery, the original creator of the adhesive label with a removable backing. Today, we use adhesive labels everywhere! From postage stamps to product identification, labels are an integral part of our lives.
A far cry, from the smiley face stickers of our youth!
The Science of Labeling
Yes, I said “science”. Beyond your standard address label, there are many factors to consider when identifying a label to do exactly what you need it to do. Hundreds of label material and adhesive combinations could have even the most label savvy person scratching their head. So in honor of Mr. Avery, let’s talk a about the importance of adhesives!
What Type of Adhesive is Best?
When starting your quest, the most important thing you need to ask yourself is “What do you want the label to do?
If you want your label to adhere until the end of time, then you’re probably looking at a permanent or possibly high tack adhesive. So what’s the difference?
As the name implies, a permanent is just that . . . once applied, the label is meant to stay there permanently. What the label is sticking to, environmental factors and the label material itself all play into the permanency of the label.
A high-tack adhesive has a more aggressive bond than a standard permanent adhesive. A high-tack adhesive may be needed if you are labeling a curved or bumpy surface or if the surface is not completely clean.
If you are looking to remove the label at some point in the future, you’re probably looking at a removable adhesive.This category of adhesive is one of trickiest. Important considerations are the length of time you want the label to stick and the surface being labeled. Within this category there are many variations.
Here are a few examples (Source: Intermec Media Products);
General Purpose Removable - Designed to remove cleanly from a wide range of substrates. Moderate peel strength for applications requiring medium to long-term removability.
- Ultra Removable - A specialty adhesive with easy peel for clean removability on challenging substrates such as glass, paper, and steel. May be reapplied to surface multiple times.
- Tight Removable - Develops high initial tack and strong peel to prevent inadvertent edge flagging. Has medium to long-term removability from many durable substrates. Generally paired with film facestocks to prevent label tearing during removal.
Cold Temp Adhesive
In simple terms, a cold temperature adhesive is a specialty permanent adhesive that performs well in cold temperatures. Again, a number of factors need to be considered when selecting a cold temp adhesive.
- What is the application temperature? Is the label being put on at room temperature or is the surface already cold?
- What is the coldest temperature the label must withstand?
- Will the label go through freeze-thaw cycles?
Here at ADI we’ve helped customers label all kinds of things. A unique application for cold temperature adhesive required the labeling of test tubes being stored in liquid nitrogen. Now that's cold!!
What labeling challenges are you facing?
Increase productivity by 14% with the TC8000
Zebra Technologies is starting out 2016 with a bang with the launch of the TC8000 mobile computer. The TC8000's unique design and feature set was the result of almost 5 years of research including extensive human factor studies. The core of the core of the research was to uncover the challenges warehouse managers face every day and to design a mobile computer that addressed these challenges.
So why the new design?
- "Single plane user interface" eliminates tilting the device to verify a scan
- The device is 33% lighter than other mobile computers reducing worker fatigue
- 2-3 shift battery life and easy batter swapping decreases downtime
- Virtual keypad options and customization allows use in multiple applications and improves accuracy
Through their research, Zebra found that the TC8000 could, on average, increase productivity by 14 percent; a time savings equivalent to 1 hour per day per worker.
What are the challenges you're facing in you're warehouse operations?
For more information on the TC8000 and the research conducted by Zebra visit our website.