In recent times there has been a rapid growth in the use of technology to support mobile working within Europe, this has been seen particularly in the UK through the explosion in online shopping and demand for home delivery/click and collect, linked to growth in digital media services for the home and workplace. Society now utilises technology like never before.
We have moved a long way from the days when home delivery was by horse and cart! Rugged handheld devices, used by retail, logistics, distribution and utility companies, have become very sophisticated; they offer a wide array of user features that increase productivity and speed up data transfer. Devices can enable workers to not only connect into systems via WLAN/WWAN and WIFI, but carry out key tasks such as to scanning, image capture, data input - even making calls. Capital expenditure has increased, becoming equally as sophisticated, with an expansion in managed services providers to provide low total cost of ownership (TCO).
Typically mobile devices are charged through the daytime in the vehicle cab, overnight in the depot via multi-bay units on desks, shelves or in cabinets. A Charging Legacy Still Remains! Despite mobile devices today being manufactured to very high specifications, designed to meet real challenges within modern operational arenas and providing a solid return on investment, there still exists a significant issue linked to charging and the robustness of charging cradles provided. Wrongly inserted devices can, and often do, break the pins inside the charger and render them inoperable - in some cases fleet operators have been experiencing up to 40% cradle failures due to pin damage caused through wrong insertions - or from simply not being robust enough.
To a business, a broken vehicle cradle means that a delivery device can spend a whole shift without being charged and potentially could have issues with data loss. Within the depot, in a multi-bay charger situation, quite often just one broken cradle renders the whole configuration inoperable and potentially 4 vehicles could face having no device for the next day's work. Today, with so many devices now in use in Europe, fleet operators have had to endure having to carry additional devices and chargers due to the sheer volume of broken kit in their estates. But Is This Really Acceptable? Well, in the UK a number of major fleet operators (transport co's and also own fleet retailers) have begun to challenge this situation. Not just from an in-cab perspective, but also from an in-depot one too. Keeping data flowing, maximising asset investment, reducing operating costs, are all high on the agenda.
Investment in device solutions is one thing, chargers are often thrown-into deals and even seen as very much a disposable component. But at c£120 each there becomes a multiplier factor with on-going replacement costs when you hit cradle failures of between 10% and 20% of your device estate. Then factor in device down-time, data loss issues and of course... the additional hardware cost impact from this typical compensatory counter measure. This for many business operations is proving to be just un-acceptable. So We Came Up With a Solution! Modularise the design of the cradle - this way it can be repaired rather than thrown away.
Design the cradle so that even when a user wrongly inserts it, the pins are not damaged. In fact while here, design it so that users only need one hand to insert/extract the device. Design it so that you can quickly and easily swap the cradle from a vehicle if broken (it does happen) and replace it - no installation or cosmetics issues. Put a warranty of 12 months on it, rather than a typical 3 months - why not! Provide a full Repair and Maintenance service for devices to be supported by - in the UK. For in-depot, multiple device charging, design a 4-bay unit which also (like with the vehicle #4) allows cradles to be swapped so as to keep a full 4-bays live and effective.
In fact while there, design a 96 device charging cabinet (with 6 shelves of 18 x cradle bays) to free-up desk space and secure the investment (c£70k). That was in 2012 and since then our 51T product range (www.51T.co.uk) has been extend, and now supports major retail and transport brand names in achieving less that 1% cradle failures due to pin damage, and 100% device to charger up-time. I have spent my life being told that things cannot be improved or are simply not available. In business we don't have the luxury of accepting this - you have to keep moving or be run-over!
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