Are Smartphones Smart For Warehouses?

There’s no denying that smartphones have changed the way we communicate. On a personal level, it’s never been easier to quickly get in touch with people and to quickly execute a range of everyday functions—from banking to getting driving directions—all from phones that are getting smaller and more capable seemingly by the day. Of course, the increasing functionality, portability and efficiency of smartphones also means they’re changing the way many businesses function. Many of the smartphone facets that have changed our personal lives have the capacity, if scaled and adapted properly, to similarly change the way we do business.


In some ways, smartphones offer functions specifically relevant to the business world. One such function is their increasing ability to work with barcode technology. Smartphone apps are being developed that function as mobile barcode scanners, with the capacity to scan barcodes in order to store and transfer their data. When most people think of barcode technology and barcode scanners, they might think of supermarkets or the retail industry more broadly. While barcode technology has certainly been a growing part of the retail industry, it has also been a significant part of increasing efficiency within the manufacturing sector. As smartphones are increasingly able to scan the barcodes used by warehouses, how are business leaders within the manufacturing sector best able to gauge whether smartphones might be a good option for their situation? Here is a look at some factors to consider.





In a warehouse setting, it is vitally important that a barcode scanner have the necessary scanning range. Many barcode scanner and inventory scanner rental options come equipped with an impressive range that warehouses are comfortable with. To this point, the consensus seems to be that the range of most smartphone barcode scanning apps is not yet up to part with the hardware that is designed specifically for the purpose of scanning inventory. Before eschewing regular barcode scanners completely in favor of smartphone scanners, make sure the smartphone scanning range is going to work for your warehouse.




Warehouse scanners also need to be able to scan quickly. Not only do they need to scan quickly, they need to be able to scan barcodes that are potentially difficult to read due to being smudged or dirty. Anyone familiar with warehouses understands that the environment isn’t the same as a clean, quiet office. To realize the economic and efficiency benefits that come with a barcoded inventory system, it is important that a scanner be able to move quickly through the inventory. Smartphone scanners are making progress as far as speed goes, but it may still limit your ability to use them for a warehouse, especially for relatively large inventories.




While the range and speed may limit your ability to use a smartphone scanner in the warehouse, the cost may be one variable in the smartphones’ favor. Considering the cost of a phone or tablet, a protective carrying case and the scanning app itself, there may be some cost savings when compared with a traditional barcode scanner. Renting barcode equipment may be the answer, getting all the power and efficiency of actual barcode scanners & varying equipment, at costs significantly lower than purchasing. Though it depends significantly on the nature and quantity of your inventory, a smartphone scanner may be something to consider even if it’s only as a supplementary tool.

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