November 2014 | Commentary | IT Matters: Logistics & Supply Chain Technology

Why BYOD Can Actually Cost You Money

Tags: Transportation

Mike Maris is Senior Director, Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics, Motorola Solutions, 972-277-6521

Millions of people have fallen in love with the same object—their smartphone. Many users build their personal lives around mobile devices, but smartphones have made their mark in the professional world as well. The transportation and logistics sectors are no exception.

The bring your own device (BYOD) movement has been a major consequence of the popularity of mobile devices. BYOD sounded like a good idea—in theory. Let workers use their own smart devices for work, and save money. Many companies even purchased devices for workers. But in harsh environments such as warehouses and distribution centers, it doesn't always work.

Benefits of Enterprise-Grade Devices

Forward-looking shippers and logistics companies are once again turning to purpose-built, enterprise-grade devices to support delivery, picking, or other mobile operations. But why the sudden resurgence?

The simple answer is that enterprise-grade devices have emulated the easy-to-use interfaces that people like on their smartphones. More often than not, newer rugged devices use open, standards-based operating systems (Windows, Android, Mac OS), rather than proprietary systems of the past, leaving businesses free to take advantage of innovative new business applications.

Smarter and Stronger

Durability can be a major issue, especially in yards or temperature-controlled facilities. Consumer-grade smartphones and tablets are not built to withstand bad weather or extreme temperatures. Buying these devices is cheaper initially, but costs more in the long run.

Consumer-grade mobile devices may also have issues in both voice and data performance that cause them to be considerably less cost-effective than new rugged, enterprise-grade smart devices. Supporting enterprise mobile applications with consumer-grade devices can end up costing companies up to 51 percent more over time.

Here's how some of these added costs break down.

  • Device replacement. Non-rugged consumer devices fail up to five times more than rugged devices in industrial or field applications such as warehousing, yard, or trucking operations, according to VDC Research.
  • Increased downtime. Replacing devices sends both hardware and downtime costs soaring. Also, many consumer-grade devices do not have enough battery power to last a full shift. Purpose-built devices support longer battery life and often allow batteries to be swapped out.
  • Decreased productivity. Consumer-grade devices may not support functions needed by mobile workers, such as bar-code scanning. A sled that encases the consumer device must be purchased. Sleds add to the overall price, and can be slower at performing tasks than enterprise devices.
  • Poor performance. In most transportation or logistics operations, devices can be exposed to excessive vibration, extreme temperature, or noise. This causes a safety concern. Without noise-cancelling technology, drivers or forklift operators might be distracted by picking up the handset to hear better.

Cost-efficient Coexistence

Many companies are opting for a peaceful coexistence—using low-cost consumer-grade devices in offices and enterprise-grade mobile devices in the warehouse, the truck, or the field. For transportation and logistics operations, the bottom line is to create a mobile device strategy that plays to the strengths of both types.






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