Wavelink Blog

Tag: Logistics

Don’t Forget Our Old Friend The Wireless Printer


We talk a lot about the needs for MDM around here, especially when it comes to smart devices and their proliferation into the enterprise. But one of the aspects of MDM which we don’t spend a lot of time on is managing the wireless printers common in warehouse environments. Sure, their hand held computer counterparts get all the love and attention, but remember that there is huge value in managing these printers. zebraprinter

As we’ve seen with smart devices, there are common features, or value propositions, that translate across the device form factors when it comes to MDM. Remote configuration, device health statistics, usage, and so on, are all things you want from your MDM solution. This is relevant whether we are talking wireless printers, smart devices, and/or hand held computers.

So next time you’re out looking at the latest and greatest MDM features, remember to think about our friend, the wireless printer. There is tremendous cost savings in bringing these assets into the fold of your MDM solution!

What Eric Schmidt Can Learn from Warehouse Employees – Get Used to Talking to A Device

Google GlassesSince the introduction of Siri on the iPhone4 in 2011, voice recognition technology has become more mainstream than ever. However, that doesn’t mean that people have become any more accustomed to speaking to their technology. The process can be somewhat unsettling and even technologists themselves think so. According to Reuters, Google CEO Eric Schmidt recently stated that talking to Google Glass was “the weirdest thing.” In fact, Saturday Night Live recently poked fun at Google Glass and how awkward it can be to talk to a device on your face.

Voice recognition can be a bit strange at first but warehouse workers have been doing it for years.  Voice in the warehouse can dramatically improve safety by allowing workers to work in a hands and eyes-free environment. It also delivers 99 percent accuracy and at least a 10 percent improvement in productivity to warehouse applications such as data-entry, picking and processing. Though voice applications in today’s warehouse resemble an operator headset, it would make sense for future devices to resemble (or actually be) Google Glass.

Though at a $1,500 price point, Google’s first-to-market product isn’t exactly price friendly to many businesses. That said one of the first voice recognition products for the consumer market, Dragon Dictate, originally retailed for $9,000!

Speakeasy in Action

Speakeasy in Action

While prices for wearable’s like Google Glass are sure to drop as the technology becomes more mainstream, will talking to a device ever feel completely normal? In the late 20th century, being tethered to a phone all day every day never seemed plausible either, but with the rise of smartphones, that is our new reality. Only time will tell as to whether or not voice recognition devices will become the new norm. In the meantime, just ask any warehouse employee – they’ll tell you it’s all in a day’s work.

MDM from the Boardroom to the Back Office and Beyond


When LANDesk and Wavelink came together in 2012, Steve Daly, the CEO of LANDesk Software, talked about the goals on the horizon for the newly unified team.  In the announcement he established the groundwork for the new endeavor. “Together, we will redefine mobility management and provide the market with unrivaled end-to-end mobile management solutions.  From the boardroom to the back office, we will enable mobility for people with a job to do.” This has been our directive since the day of the acquisition and we have been working together to provide our customers with MDM solutions that encompass both use cases.  As one can imagine, there are a few differences between the boardroom and the back office but when it comes to mobility there are not as many as you may think.  Let’s examine MDM from both perspectives.

Unique and Common Mobility Needs

  • Mobility Growth: Both the boardroom set and the line of business team are experiencing an explosion of mobile device demands.  On the boardroom side theses devices fall into both the BYOD device realm as well as assigned devices. They both share a need to keep up with the expanding wireless ecosystem with effective and powerful mobile device and wireless infrastructure management.  As the expectations of users begin to mirror their experiences as consumers, the pressure will be on IT to deliver a seamless user experience for both groups of users.stockxpertcom_id858210_jpg_09a185e593d94fa570c653bd96bdb622
  • Remote Service: “Allow me to take over your computer please.” This is something users are hearing more and more from the IT team on both sides of the enterprise.  While this used to be an in network exercise, it has expanded to include mobile devices wherever they may be. How do you compare the mobile service demands of an executive on a business trip to Germany with a delivery driver that needs service on a line of business device? In the end, you would not want either one to be without remote service. On the line of business side, Avalanche Remote Control, a mobile help desk solution, provides administrators with an exact replica of what end-users are experiencing. Remote Control allows administrators to support device users in the field remotely, without actually having to be in the field with the physical device. (more…)

Terminal Emulation: Productivity Never Goes Out of Style


The following comes from Rob DeStefano, Product Marketing Manager:

Most people fondly remember their first Windows PC. If yours was like mine, it had a floppy disk drive for expandable memory.  We laugh at the portable phone Michael Douglas used in the movie “Wall Street.”  Remember the original Nintendo gaming console? A big evolution to the Wii series currently connected to your television.

There is a common theme here among these items: The hardware has evolved, but the use cases and core functionalities have remained the same.  When technology works and is widely adopted, its demise is predicted for many years but what usually happens is that users prefer to see it evolve rather than disappear.

Windows has come a long way since my first exposure to Windows 3.1.  My iPhone, a far more advanced (and thankfully, pocket-able) cell phone than those from the 1980’s; and my Wii is most commonly used to play the games from the old systems that kept me busy for way too many hours as a kid.  The hardware has changed, but the change in my user experience has been gradual, and still very familiar at its core.

The same is true for task workers using enterprise applications.  Mobile computers, including the devices used in warehouses, on retail floors and throughout the supply chain, have changed significantly over the past two decades.  Today, the term “mobile computer” includes consumer devices like tablets and smartphones in certain use cases.  However, as the hardware has changed, core software applications have progressively evolved to keep the user experience familiar and comfortable – ensuring optimal productivity.

Terminal Emulation remains a prime example of software evolution as the hardware on which it operates has morphed so dramatically.  What is it that keeps Terminal Emulation around and growing?  It is still the most efficient and cost effective method for high volume, enterprise-grade data input. Despite the “green screen” user interface, there are 5 reasons TE remains so widely used:

  1. Terminal Emulation works.  Over two decades of market use prove its stability.
  2. It’s widely adopted.  Internal estimates suggest roughly 68% of rugged mobile computers run Wavelink TE.
  3. It has evolved. Terminal Emulation ran on DOS, Palm OS, Windows PocketPC. Today it runs on today’s Windows Mobile and Android operating systems. It has also evolved with leading back-end software.
  4. Terminal Emulation enables productivity. Task workers are familiar and can easily work with it.
  5. Terminal Emulation remains innovative.  Wavelink continues to invest in new features that increase its accessibility, including Speakeasy, which voice-enables existing Terminal Emulation applications.

Terminal Emulation remains the platform of choice for many enterprise applications in part because it has been with us for so long that it is the standard-bearer against which any potential alternative would have to measure – in terms of cost and productivity.  Wavelink TE is used by 25 of the top 30 retailers in North America and by eight of the top 10 retailers in the world, according to internal statistics.

Like our other tech examples, the display may change, but the reliability and dependability never goes out of style.  Who thought they’d still play Super Mario Brothers on a flat screen television, using a wireless, motion-detecting controller?

Keeping the Supply Chain Agile

In the most recent edition of Inbound Logistics, writer Marty Weil takes a closer look at how mobile communication tools are keeping supply chains on the go connected. “Mobile solutions are at work in every part of the supply chain. They are a key part of many warehouse environments, especially in directed picking applications. In transportation, mobile technology has been particularly significant for expedited parcel carriers that use it to improve customer service and continually optimize operations. Private fleets and motor carriers also use mobile devices for tracking shipments and collecting driver performance data.”021_6789_01

In our line of business we see a lot of enterprises who need to manage their operations in real time without impacting their bottom line from an efficiency and cost perspective. Through mobile technology solutions like Mobile Device Management (MDM) and Mobile Productivity Platforms (MPP) it really is easy to take advantage of technology that starts streamlining your supply chain operations immediately. As part of the article, Marty spoke with Wavelink customer Goya Foods, who are using Wavelink’s MDM solution, Avalanche and Wavelink’s MPP voice-directed solution, Speakeasy along with ruggedized mobile devices to improve efficiency in and outside the four-walls. Through mobile solutions they keep the goods moving without worrying about making adjustments on the fly.

For supply chain agility, Marty recommends that enterprises look towards four goals as outlined by consulting firm PwC –

1. Integrating the supply chain with other business functions. Companies that acknowledge the supply chain as a strategic asset achieve 70 percent higher performance. Taking steps to connect supply chain operations to functions such as marketing and sales can help strengthen the entire business.

2. Facilitating supplier partnerships and collaboration. Potential supply chain disruptions make it more critical than ever for companies to share data
and strengthen relationships with key suppliers.

3. Enabling companies to adjust quickly to changes. The better the information companies have at hand, the more responsive their supply chains can be. Without mobile devices, supply chain information can be slow to reach managers.

4. Measuring and managing supply chain data. Companies can use mobile tools to collect supply chain data that informs strategic decisions.

Through the use of mobile solutions supply chain operations can be agile, resulting in increased productivity, visibility and efficiency in moving product, saving money and meeting the growing demands of the customer. To read Marty’s article in its entirety click here. Want to take a closer look at how MDM and MPP tools like Wavelink Avalanche and Wavelink Speakeasy can add agility to your supply chain operations? Contact the Wavelink Sales Team.

How About a Top 5 List? 5 Reasons We Like Voice

Speakeasy in Action

Voice has gotten a lot more attention in the last few years. Between Apple’s introduction of Siri to the rapidly growing popularity of applications like Dragon Dictation, voice is more than what crazy people hear in their heads. It’s a valuable tool for productivity, efficiency and even safety. Let’s rundown some of the benefits:

  1. Improve safety in your warehouse.  Distracted driving is a big problem on our roadways. Slogans like “talk, text, crash,” and commercials about the “last text he read before he died” send a powerful message about avoiding distracted driving. There may not be cars in the warehouse, but there are trucks, forklifts and other motorized vehicles that can be just as dangerous. Distracted driving isn’t just a problem on the road, it’s a problem in the warehouse too. About 100 workers are killed and 95,000 are injured in forklift accidents every year, according to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration. Voice solutions remove the need for drivers to look down at their devices while driving. Instead, a voice in their headset tells them where to go and what to do when they get there.
  2. Increase efficiency. You can read all about this in an earlier blog post from my colleague, Gemma Randazzo, which details the ways voice can improve efficiency. The bottom line is that adding voice can improve accuracy by reducing mis-picks. With a 99.9 percent accuracy rate, voice decreases the time spent correcting errors and time lost on inaccuracies.
  3. Drive productivity. While the seconds saved looking down at a device, then up at a product, then down at a device may not seem impactful, if you reduce or eliminate those seconds, it adds up fast. Voice is also typically accompanied by hands-free devices, which have a well-documented 15-20 percent gain in productivity associated with them.
  4. Versatility. Voice isn’t just for picking. It can also help with processes outside the warehouse, including mobile inspections, field services and yard management. It offers the same benefits – productivity, efficiency, etc. – to those processes outside the warehouse as it does to picking inside.
  5. Speedy implementation. One of the best parts of voice is that it can be implemented very quickly. Unlike with many other applications, which require a system overhaul, device upgrades, or other time-consuming changes, voice can be added quickly and easily, so the benefits can also be realized quickly and easily. To see what we mean, check out this video where Goya Foods talks about their experience with voice:

Making Money off Mobile Outside the Four Walls


Can deploying mobile outside the warehouse can save you time and money?

Having a great deal of visibility within your warehouse has obvious benefits. With better insight into when your inventory needs to be replenished or by using a system that can tell you where to store new product, greater visibility can reduce costs associated with lost or wasted product and can also decrease time spent manually picking or putting away.

While mobile systems are often used in today’s warehouses to reap the efficiency and cost rewards of having greater visibility, it is also important to mobilize processes outside the four walls to strengthen the productivity and profitability of your entire supply chain. By employing a mobile unit in the field, connectivity and additional visibility gains can help your organization realize even greater cost and time savings.iphonebusinessuser

The single greatest opportunity for making money with mobile outside the warehouse is with your field sales teams. With mobile systems in place, you can make it easy for your reps to take orders and send them in via smart device. This instant processing can allow your salesperson to turn product back over to customers quickly, as well as easily look up order histories or statuses. Having this instant access to customer purchasing history also provides your field sales with opportunities to upsell or cross-sell new products, based on that customer’s buying patterns. Without having to manually log orders in or tread to and from the warehouse, this allows your reps to meet with many more customers each day and reduce transport costs.

Another way to improve your organization’s efficiency outside the four walls and increase overall supply chain profitability is with your service teams. With real-time response capabilities, your team can respond quickly to job requests and address more service calls without having to drop in and out of the warehouse for updates. Making your service operations more productive also produces increased satisfaction among your customer base, as customers can get real-time updates on the status of their requests and teams are better able to expedite delivery.

Deploying mobile not only limits your field teams’ need to return to the warehouse or office, but you’ll also see that through mobilizing operations your organization will start cutting back on paperwork. Additionally, your overall customer experience – from sales to service – will drastically improve and become more efficient and profitable.

How do trucks go missing?

Packages being loaded

History Channel’s latest reality TV creation, Big Rig Bounty Hunters, has brought a little-known underground industry into the limelight. This industry involves hired contractors working to track down missing cargo or 18-wheelers that have simply vanished off the map altogether. The show follows a number of colorful characters, the “bounty hunters,” as they attempt to find these trucks and/or retrieve their cargo so that trucking companies aren’t out heaps of money. And the hunters make a pretty penny in the process too.

As an employee of a transportation and logistics solutions provider, this show got me thinking, how is it even possible for a truck or its cargo to go missing in today’s modern era of transportation logistics and fleet management technology? I did some research and it turns out the current era isn’t as modern as one might think…Packages being loaded

According to Kimberly Knickle, practice director at IDC Manufacturing Insights, just 26 percent of respondents in IDC’s supply chain mobility survey reported using smartphones and media tablets for logistics. Dwight Klappich, a research vice president at Gartner didn’t fare much better in his industry analysis. Klappich recently asked an audience of carriers and private fleet operators how many of them had mobile-enabled fleets. About half of the audience responded that they did so. Klappich then asked how many of the vehicles were equipped with GPS systems and the response was significantly lower. “So, basically they’re driving around in $300,000 units, but still using paper to track their activities,” he told Logistics Management. So according to industry experts, many trucking companies are keeping track of their expensive rigs (and cargo to boot) with a paper trail – kept by the trucker – inside the truck? The premise of this show is starting to make a lot more sense.

But the industry is slowly changing, says Klappich. As drivers are using more technology in their personal lives, they want to move away from antiquated techniques, such as paper logs, while on the job. Due to a current driver shortage and an increased incentive to comply with driver requests, along with reduced costs, trucking companies are taking note and rolling out mobile solutions to their fleets. And with good reason; the benefits of mobile technology on big rigs are many: drivers can capture signatures as proof-of-delivery, communicate with their company, receive permits, reconcile fuel taxes, photograph damage to deliveries and navigate where they are going. In addition, tablets and other mobile devices enable two-way communication between the driver and dispatcher.

While it may be some time before tablets are widely used across the trucking industry, one technology that is much more commonplace is the use of a “black box” or electronic on-board recorder device that not only enables the driver to log his miles, but also allows the distributor or trucking company to keep tabs on the driver’s routes and track his status in real-time. Leveraging this kind of technology is a no-brainer according to Anne Ferro of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Farro states that most companies that switch to electronic logs do so “very effectively and very profitably.” She also states that those who leverage this technology are “finding it’s a very, very efficient mechanism for tracking on-duty status.” According to Commercial Carrier Journal, electronic logging technology is not just a beneficial service for drivers and their respective owners but it may soon be the law. Farro predicts that a rule mandating the use of electronic onboard records will be proposed by September 2013.

Until tablets become widely adopted across the industry, or electronic on-board recorders are federally mandated, it seems the big rig bounty hunters can keep their day jobs.

For Instant Holiday Shopping Gratification you Need Logistics

I recently read that logistics are as essential to the “holiday season as the Christmas tree and the Menorah.” I don’t think I need to do too much convincing at this time of the year for you to appreciate just how true that is. Just open your inbox and you are immediately reminded that if you want your holiday packages delivered before the festivities you better get a move on. As I write this an array of “final hours” emails bombard my inbox.

According to eMarketer “online shoppers in the United States will spend $54.47 billion this holiday season, up 16.8% from $46.63 billion last year.” That is a staggering number and only accounts for one country. It is easy to see why companies like Amazon are expanding fulfillment centers and opening a new 1-million square foot facility (yes, 1 million square feet) in Washington State. With the trend of online shopping only growing, fulfillment centers around the globe will continue to see their business models change to reflect that of the online consumer. Today’s online consumer appreciates the diverse number of stores they can purchase from without leaving home and driving several miles, but it also means that the instant in-store gratification is no longer there. Just because it isn’t there doesn’t mean consumers don’t still want it and for instant gratification you need logistics.

Transportation and logistics companies get items where they need to be as quickly as possible. To minimize hiccups a vital part of this process is managing the hand-held devices that get the packages to your doorstep. From the warehouse where the items are picked, packaged and shipping labels are then printed, to the logistics company picking up the package, scanning the label and then flying and/or driving it to where it nePackages being loadededs to go. The whole time this package is tracked using a hand-held device so you can monitor its progress. If a device goes down or experiences a malfunction you aren’t going to care because you just want your package. But to businesses managing these devices is a critical component of their job after all customer satisfaction is number one. A total mobile device management effectively keeps these devices secure and up and running from anywhere in the world. In any given day there are many different “fires” for businesses to put out and with a reliable device management solution, managing and tracking all their hand-held devices is one less “fire” they need to worry about.

And with that I must go – someone changed their mind on which of the latest video games they wanted and to avoid rush-shipping charges I need to hit purchase.

Happy holidays!

What Are the Costs of Unsecured Data?

I came across an interesting read from Forbes that was posted over the summer about the growing threat of mobile device security. It has some fascinating figures on mobile device usage and the inherent risks associated with our growing demand on mobile technologies. It’s becoming such an issue, that the White House and other leaders are entering the discussion. 

Some of the more interesting (and/or frightening) highlights include that “six out of every 10 cyber-security breaches occur as a result of a mobile device.” Why is that an issue? Well, consider the following that the author, Kevin Johnson points out:

We’ve reached an inflection point where the lightning-fast adoption of powerful, smart devices is outpacing our ability to secure our mobile lives. In a world of 7 billion people, there are now 5.9 billion mobile-phone subscribers. Here in the U.S., we have more mobile-phone subscriptions than people. The mobile Internet that we’ve come to rely on ― for everything from financial transactions to business operations to emergency-response procedures ― is increasingly vulnerable.

Think about that. In the US, we have more mobile-phone subscriptions than people. Take into account that many, if not most, are accessing some combination of personal and corporately-liable informations, and you can see why the issue is being trust onto center stage. Take a look at the article and let us know what strikes you the most about it. It’s a good read.