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toughbook in a pallet network forklift
Written by Mike Willett, Retail, Transport & Logistics and Manufacturing Lead at Panasonic TOUGHBOOK.

The mobile tech driving forklift efficiency

Let me ask you a question, are you getting all you can from your forklifts?

The right technology choices, in hardware and software, can help warehouses to reach new levels of efficiency from their forklift fleets, reduce downtime, and generate valuable insights to inform smarter operations.

Equipping forklifts with mobile devices creates a direct line between management and fleet operations. Drivers can generate real-time, accurate stock calculations, feedback job completion data with ease and without hard copies, view live updates on job allocations and schedule changes, and reduce time and errors in the auditing process.

 

Selecting the right device for your operations

But selecting the right device for your forklifts is important to ensure a return on investment. Warehouses can be difficult environments for mobile computing, with the risk of damage from dust and extreme temperatures, as well as the daily knocks and scrapes of being used around forklifts and heavy cargo. As a result, it’s important to choose a device that is rugged and certified to withstand extreme weather and operating conditions.

When The Pallet Network (TPN), the UK’s leading pallet freight delivery network, mobilised its forklift trucks at the company’s three UK depots with 150 new Panasonic TOUGHBOOK Android tablets, one of its primary concerns was reducing device damage and total cost of ownership costs.

Forklift operators work quickly, and quick-release seatbelts were causing serious damage to TPN’s old devices as they sprang back and hit the device screens. By investing in TOUGHBOOK’s rugged devices, it saved countless repairs and hours out of action. From device touchscreens to the specialist docks and mounts attaching tablets to forklifts, every aspect of the solution should prioritise rugged high standards and resilience. In the case of TPN, its forklifts were operating both undercover and outside in all weathers. As a result, the Panasonic team sourced an all-weather cover for the docking unit on the forklifts as part of the overall solution.

Flexible docking, rather than fixed mobile computing devices on forklifts, is also an important consideration for increasing productivity. When a forklift with a fixed computer is taken out of action by unplanned maintenance or servicing, a fully functional device is also pulled away from the warehouse floor.

Equally, any necessary maintenance for a fixed computer requires the attached forklift to come out of operation until both are operational. A flexible docking solution ensures that your mobile computing investment can be always used - by staff on foot as well as forklift, when needed.

TPN was upgrading its existing forklift mobile computing solution, so the Panasonic team worked with its partners to ensure the new solution could still use as much of the existing infrastructure as possible. This included bracketry and connectors, which saved money and ensured that the new solution being deployed was plug and play.

Clear visibility aids productivity

To enable driver and mobile device to operate in perfect harmony, another key requirement in device choice is a large screen and bright outdoor readable displays. This ensures drivers can quickly and easily see which pallets must be moved next and where and they move around the depot.

 

Overcoming Connectivity blackspots

Maintaining connectivity between the device and business systems as it moves around the warehouse and loading areas is also a common challenge. Historically TPN had experienced these connectivity blackspots in its operation – leading to reduced productivity – but with the built-in connectivity capabilities of the Panasonic TOUGHBOOK devices, this issue was quickly solved.

 

Easy to manage

As well as making the devices easy to use for operators, it’s important that the solution is secure and easy to manage for the IT teams. Buyers of Android devices, for example, should ensure that they choose manufacturers that offer wrap around support services for their products. With Panasonic TOUGHBOOK’s Android devices comes Panasonic COMPASS (Complete Android Services and Security). From ongoing security patches and firmware updates to remote access management, COMPASS offers enterprise managers complete control, visibility, and peace of mind across all devices.

To ensure any potential issues are identified and dealt with quickly, Panasonic also offers Smart Essentials. It consists of three services: Smart Service for a deeper insight into the devices and to diagnose problems affecting performance and productivity. Smart Battery Monitor to oversee battery health 24/7 with automatic alerts when health is deteriorating, providing time to act and maintain performance in the field. Smart Device Monitor to provide critical information on device location, user experience (including drop detection) and utilisation.

All these elements result in a mobile computing forklift solution that can transport productivity into another league. So, are you getting the most from your forklifts?

Find out more on our forklift solutions.

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