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Five Things to Consider When Using Tablet Computers in Forklift Applications

Intermec CV41 Vehicle Mount Computer

Tablet computing is one of the fastest-growing categories of consumer electronics and enterprise IT alike. The buzz is leading many businesses to explore new uses for tablet computers, and some are finding their way into evaluation trials on forklifts and other vehicle applications in the distribution center. With their large screens and available Windows operating systems, tablets can seem quite similar to the forklift-mounted computers that are widely used today. They can also be taken off the forklift and used on the floor, which some organizations find intriguing.

However, tablets should not be considered drop-in replacements for purpose-built forklift mounted terminals because there are several major differences between the product categories. If you are considering using tablet computers on forklifts, it is important to know these differences and how they may impact operations. Careful evaluation will highlight compromises in integration and everyday use

This white paper reviews some of the important differences between tablets and purpose-built computers for forklifts, and presents the five key issues that must be considered when assessing tablet computers for forklift operators:

  • Is the design and mounting appropriate for a warehouse or distribution center environment?
  • How will the tablet be powered from the forklift?
  • Is the tablet compatible with data collection equipment (scanners, printers, RFID), legacy warehouse management system (WMS), fleet management solutions and other critical enterprise systems?
  • How will tablets impact user processes and productivity?
  • How much will tablets really cost?

This white paper is for readers interested in automating warehouses and other industrial environments, so the commentary about tablet computers is specifically focused on enterprise-grade models. Consumer-oriented tablets like the Apple iPad lack the ruggedness and features to work reliably on forklifts. As such, consumer-oriented tablets are not addressed in this review.

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