A Ruggedized Industry Leader Goes Dark

For years, Microsoft held sway in the warehousing space just as it did in personal computing, particularly when it came to business applications. Countless businesses and manufacturing companies ran Microsoft applications on both office workstations as well as handheld devices on the shop floor. But as of January of this year, Microsoft Embedded CE 6.0, Handheld 8.1, and Handheld 6.5 operating systems (OS) are no longer being supported — opening the door to an Android warehouse option for many companies.

While this was announced some time ago, it gave Google’s Android OS time to ramp up its capabilities to become the new solution for companies managing mobile devices in their warehouses. This, combined with some early success from Android in warehouse spaces, meant that more and more companies using rugged devices with Microsoft-based OS systems have begun — or desperately need to begin — the transition to Android. There are a number of reasons for this, undoubtedly tied to the success of the OS for consumer mobile devices.

First is the size of the ecosystem for partners that can provide Android-based solutions for warehouses. While Microsoft certainly led the pack in other areas, the sheer number of companies specializing in Android warehouse development and support vastly outweighs those that focused on Windows. Second, as Android is the leading consumer OS, application development for the platform is also vast — enabling companies to develop their own solutions or take advantage of solutions built by professional developers.

As Microsoft’s support for their embedded and handheld software comes to a close, companies that have not already begun the transition to another solution — Android or otherwise — must take action quickly. In this post, we’ll explore some of the reasons why organizations should consider making the switch to a popular OS that’s time-tested, ready for use, and already well integrated into numerous organizations’ warehouse operations.

The Benefits of an Android Warehouse for Frontline Operations

1. It’s More Secure

The support life cycle for Microsoft systems includes security fixes, bug fixes, and other updates. This support typically lasts for around 10 years from the date of the product’s initial release, and the end of this life cycle is called end of support. As these different tools and systems reach the end of their support life cycles, Microsoft will no longer be providing technical support for problems or bug fixes. This naturally means those operating systems will no longer be receiving security updates — or any updates for that matter.

With no security updates, any warehouses still using these systems will be exposed to ever-increasing security threats and vulnerabilities. Much of this technology is older and wasn’t architectured to address the security challenges companies face today. If a vulnerability were discovered and exploited, companies using these systems in their facilities could experience serious production problems. The devices may no longer work, data could be stolen, and your company’s performance operationally and financially would suffer.

2. Resources and Support Are Plentiful

Again, due to the popularity of Android in both consumer and business applications, the number of technology solutions available is growing. That, and many of these solutions receive ongoing support, as Android as an operating system isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. The partner ecosystem is also significantly larger, meaning companies looking for Android warehouse solutions can find a reliable third party to work with for anything from hardware and software to ongoing support and maintenance services.

3. It Increases Efficiency

For warehouse managers and technology leaders, one of the key metrics that you’re constantly striving to push down is waste: both in time, resources spent, labor, and so on. With older and unsupported devices, your frontline workers are more likely to encounter issues with their technology, and they won’t be able to take advantage of the technology that is now available that can make their work faster and simpler.

For example, warehouse workers often carry a number of tools beyond their mobile devices. These might include walkie talkies for communication and so on. With an Android-based device, voice-enabled applications can function in the same way — allowing workers to communicate regardless of where they are in a facility with no disruption due to quality or connection issues. That, and the advanced cameras available on mobile devices allow workers to take photos of damaged products or images of new products for instant uploading into ERPs and other software systems. This reduces the number of tools workers need to carry and manage.

4. It’s More Flexible

More and more warehouse workers are taking their technology beyond the traditional handheld scanner to include newer mobile devices and even wearable technology. Whereas previous technology was limited and could not adapt beyond the device it was made for, Android can. The OS has the inherent ability to adapt to different device limitations and configurations and optimize for that.

For example, previous operating systems were limited to the devices they were made for. If a warehouse wanted to implement a more efficient tool, such as a wearable wrist screen or mobile device, it would mean migrating to something entirely new. Now that such a migration is needed, it makes sense to use Android for warehouse needs. The software can understand if the device has a horizontal screen or more vertical screen and adapt to that without new code.

Another benefit is Android’s ability to simply make work easier. Companies still using Telnet emulation and green screen interfaces can adopt Android to improve the user interfaces of those devices, with the option to revert back if needed. That, and devices can be configured to work with different types of keyboards and data entry. If a warehouse worker simply needs to enter numeric figures rather than a full set of alphanumeric, screens can be configured to support that — making the worker’s input more efficient and increasing productivity.

Get Expert Assistance with Your Android Warehouse Migration

At TRG, our warehouse optimization and enterprise mobility teams are here to help you achieve your productivity and efficiency goals. We offer a broad variety of mobile device management and supporting services to enhance your organization’s mobility. If you’ve been using Windows devices in your facilities and are looking to make the move to Android, or if you’re looking for other solutions, fill out the form below to get in touch with our team.

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