How to Choose the Right Mobile Device For Your Asset Tracking Project

Several mobile device options in a group.

Choosing the right mobile device is critical to ensuring the success of your fixed asset tracking project. With so many options on the market, the choice can seem overwhelming. So, how do you choose the right mobile device to use with asset tracking software?

Here’s some advice on how to choose the best device for your organization’s needs.

When it comes to choosing a mobile device, you should look closely at:

  1. Features
  2. Performance 
  3. Return on Investment (ROI)

Enterprise mobile devices are designed to perform beautifully with scan-intensive applications, and offer impressive features that make mobile computing and scanning more convenient and versatile than ever before. Just don’t lose sight of what you really need.

Let form follow function

Don’t let bells and whistles distract from what’s really important — a device that’s designed for the type of work you’re performing in order to make your job easier.

At a minimum, the mobile device you choose should be able to keep up with the demands of your application. Add-on accessories that are compatible with smartphones or tablets,  like snap-on barcode readers, for example, are an attractive option for today’s mobile-centric workforce. However, this may not offer the kind of performance that your asset tracking solution requires. While accessories may add a great degree of flexibility, the reality is that if you have assets numbering in the thousands, you need a dependable scan engine that can handle that volume of scans. This is just one example of the many considerations you’ll have to make as you explore your options.

Other questions to ask:

What are the conditions under which your mobile device will need to function?

If your application is in a warehouse or outdoor setting, such as a construction site, you need a mobile device that can withstand dust, moisture, and repeated drops to a concrete floor.

If your device will be used to track assets in a hospital or lab, then it will need to withstand repeated exposure to disinfecting. In these scenarios, you need a device that offers the kind of rugged durability that will ensure your investment will hold up over time.

Lighting is another factor to consider — will it be used outdoors in the sunlight, or even at night? Look closely at the brightness of the display to be sure the screen will be readable under your conditions.

Is information security a major concern?

Will you use it in a hospital, where you must maintain compliance with HIPAA, or in a retail environment with PCI requirements? You’ll need a device that uses an embedded validated cryptographic module. Look for mobile devices that have a Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 140-2 security certification.

What kind of asset tracking system will you be using, and will it integrate multiple systems?

You’ll need your device to have specific data-capture capabilities, which will be determined by how data is encoded and affixed to your assets. Some readers can collect data from multiple symbologies, including direct part marks, 1D barcodes, 2D barcodes, and RFID.

If your application requires you to keep records of things like purchase orders, images, or package sign-offs, you might need a reader that can also capture signatures, take photos, and record videos. If you have assets with barcodes that are old, dirty, or easily degraded, then be sure to look for a reader that is recommended for capturing damaged or faded tags.

What kind of battery life do you need?

First, consider the length of your average shift — an 8-hour shift will require much less battery support than a 12-hour shift. For longer shifts, or to run a device for multiple shifts on a single charge, you’ll need a device that has a longer battery life, or backup batteries that can be easily switched out.

Other features that can tailor your solution to your need:

  • Push-to-talk communications — place private calls, or connect like a two-way radio
  • Wireless connectivity — connect to internet and bluetooth
  • Memory — how much data you need to capture, and how quickly
  • Battery life — length and number of shifts between charges
  • Screen size — smaller screens can limit readability of features
  • Keyboard — some are interchangeable and offer qwerty, numeric, and others
  • Ergonomics — this includes factors such as grip (“pistol” grip or block) and weight

Get in touch

RedBeam is committed to making sure our clients have access to the best technology for the demands of their applications. To ensure that you find the very best hardware to fit your asset tracking solution, we have built a wide distribution network that enables us to meet your needs.

For general questions about mobile devices, or help selecting the right mobile device for your solution, contact us.

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