Friday, 26 September 2014

The true cost of ownership

We were recently contacted by a chemical company looking to replace old Psion 7535 hand held terminals, they used these in the warehouse to track picking and putaway transactions using a (pretty old) browser based application and it had run OK for years.

Now the obvious route (for some) would be to pitch up with the latest terminal from manufacturer X, load the RF configuration and Terminal Emulation client, let the guys test them and be impressed by the brighter screen, better scanner, faster response times etc. Easy!

However, when talking to the operators on their tea break, it became apparent that the real issue was the screen size and the way the "not very well designed" browser GUI was displayed to the operator.  It was very small, some information was off screen including the scan input so they were unable to see an incorrect barcode scan until it was committed and the next screen came up.

Also they were using narrow isle trucks in high racking and the terminals were usually jammed into a convenient space on the VNA.  Which resulted in a quite a few breakages that took up to 8 weeks to get fixed and returned.

Fortunately both the Warehouse Manager and the IT Manager were open minded enough to listen to our ideas on the use of a fix position DLoG truck computer, to address the workers issues.

A secure DLoG unit mounted directly to the VNA to eliminate drops, a larger screen to display the ERP software correctly, making the interface quicker and smoother to navigate and finally a UK based repair centre.

Testing went well and the operators were delighted, but as a solution it was noticeably more expensive than just buying new hand held devices.  Luckily the Warehouse and IT Managers, when they pitched this to the business looked into all the down time, breakages, slow picking, miss-scans and equally importantly, the time to fix units as the IT support was on a different site about 10 miles away so had to drive to the warehouse to fix the units and or arrange return to the manufacturer's European repair centre. With the DLoG units he could remote access into them just like a standard PC from his desk, diagnosing software issues and fixing them in real time.

So despite the initial financial outlay appearing to be very high, by taking into account all the factors the extra investment in the correct hardware for the job showed an overall saving and improved efficiencies for the company.

Needless to say they have now started the roll-out of DLoG MTC 6/10 units and are beginning to enjoy the benefits of a properly researched solution, based on the real world needs of the business and the true cost of ownership factored into the purchasing decision.

Written by Nigel Holloway - a senior sales consultant at Dash Computer Products, who specialises in barcode labelling systems, hand held and fork truck mounted computers and data capture solutions.
contact Nigel on 01200 441977 or email here:  Nigel@Dash Computer

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