4 Ways You Can Use a Rugged Tablet to Manage Inventory


Warehouse worker using the Panasonic FZ-G1 to manage inventory in his warehouse.

A rugged tablet has so many handy uses, with inventory management being just one of them. The right device and software can save your organisation money by not over ordering or losing stock. Employees can save time and resources, scanning, locating and reporting stock all from an easy to use handheld tablet.

#1 Barcode Scanner

Most rugged tablets have the capability of having an optional barcode scanner installed. The scanners are now so sophisticated they can read 1D or 2D barcodes and the labels don’t even need to be in pristine condition. Dirty or damaged codes can be read just as quickly. A rugged tablet can scan just as easily out on the dock in bright sunlight as they can indoors.  

While using a smartphone as a scanner is possible for some organisations, a rugged tablet offers a number of benefits over a phone.

A barcode scanner on a tablet has more security than most smartphones. Consumer phones aren’t designed to store and share data, whereas this is one of the primary roles of a rugged tablet. If the organisation takes the security of its data seriously, a rugged tablet is the best option.

The camera and light on your smartphone aren’t designed to read barcodes, they’re for taking photos of subjects at various distances. A rugged tablet is better equipped to scan barcodes quickly and accurately.

A smartphone’s battery also doesn’t have the stamina to be used all shift reading barcodes compared to a rugged tablet. When the battery is getting low, most rugged tablets have the capability to hot-swap batteries without powering down so staff stay productive for longer.

With a rugged tablet, there’s no need to connect to a computer for the data to collect in a database or system. Smartphones aren’t that smart when it comes to storing data!     

#2 Locating Items

Need to know where an item is stored in a large warehouse or not sure if you have an item in stock in store? A quick look-up on a rugged tablet can tell you exactly what’s in stock and where to quickly locate it. The tablet improves customer service by answering stock queries faster and allows employees to be more productive.

#3 Reporting and Monitoring

Stocktakes and sales reporting tasks are not as tedious as they once were. A rugged tablet gives employees and management an up to the minute report on stock levels and progress of sales. Alerts can be set up to notify employees of low or high inventory levels.  

A rugged tablet can also be used to produce purchase orders and electronic data interchanges for transmitting orders. Companies no longer need to hold large quantities of expensive stock. In the past organisations didn’t have an accurate picture of stock levels, so it was better to err on the side of caution and have too much in stock than not enough. With a rugged tablet, there’s no need to keep excess stock on hand because you know exactly what’s in the warehouse.

Using a tablet to forecast demand allows you to reduce backorders and overstock. When an employee needs information or records from a central database, it’s easy to use a rugged tablet to quickly tap into the required information. The results of previous marketing campaigns and promotions are easy to access to predict the result of a future campaign and the stock requirements.

High value products at risk of theft can make use of real time tracking. Use the tablet to run a GPS-based location system to ensure any stolen inventory is quickly located and inventory costs keep to a minimum. A tablet can be used to run automatic identification data collection (AIDC) programs which help to increase efficiency and decrease costs due to lost inventory.

Reporting and claiming damaged stock can be a time consuming and expensive process. With a rugged tablet, employees can take a photo of the damaged item/s, attach the photo to a file in the management system and report it to management or a supplier via email. No more filling in paperwork and manually moving documents around site.

With the addition of a vendor-managed inventory system, an organisation can cut out the need to contact suppliers when stock at each of their locations is getting low. Suppliers can automatically replenish stock and make recommendations to retailers based on the sales data they have access to.   

#4 Save Space on Desktop Computers

Warehouse or shop floor staff are usually on their feet moving around the site, so it doesn’t make sense for them to have a desktop computer. A computer requires space for a workstation and chair.

It makes more sense to have a mobile computer that staff have easy access to rather than needing to return to a desk throughout the day. A rugged tablet gives them the flexibility to do everything they need on the go with a tablet in the palm of their hand. For the times staff need access to a larger screen, the tablet can be used in conjunction with a monitor rather than needing to sync the tablet and desktop computer.   

Why Inventory Management Requires Rugged Devices

While you can use a consumer device to manage inventory, chances are it’s going to be a challenge. Managing the movement of inventory and stock in and out can occur all day long. Employees need to hold a device throughout their shift and accidents can happen.

If a worker drops a consumer device onto a hard surface, it’s far less likely to survive the fall then they’re left without a device until a new one arrives. When liquids (or rain) are present on the job, only a rugged device can survive the moisture. Stock management doesn’t just happen in ambient temperatures. Many items need to be stored in large fridges or freezers so a rugged device is required to cope with the extreme cold. Inventories kept outdoors in extreme heat or dust also need to be managed using a rugged device.  

For help finding the right tablet to manage your organisation’s inventory, talk to the hardware experts at Roaming Technologies by calling 1300 131 933 or contact us online

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