Why Smartphones Won’t Replace Enterprise Grade Devices As Barcode Scanners

Smartphones are often compared with enterprise grade devices when they are being evaluated as barcode scanners. They look good, their design is intuitive for usage and they come in at a reasonable price. However, questions remain over whether they are capable to be used as barcode scanners.

If you are doing a cost-based analysis of smartphones, taking into account the extra costs of hardware, software, accessories, plus implementation and training, then it is a pretty close call against an enterprise grade device. But, you may not realize there are some hidden cost factors which come with a smartphone, which will reveal themselves over time, in the form of operational costs arising from the loss in productivity, loss of opportunity and the cost of any extra IT support required. These extra factors can account for as much as 90% of the total implementation cost of non-rugged smartphone technology.

Enterprise grade devices come in to their own when deployed as barcode scanners. Consumer smartphones are well capable of the task as well, however, a number of common factors really limit their capacity to do the job, and therefore, also affect the capacity of workers to do theirs.

In poorly lit storage areas, it may be necessary to use the built-in torch with a smartphone, but this will drain the battery significantly. The camera on a smartphone is not the ideal option for scanning barcodes, as it may take some time to line it up properly and bring it into focus, and as barcodes are sometimes scratched or damaged this becomes even more of a problem. This means that barcode numbers may need to be entered manually, eating up valuable time and leaves the process open to human error.

This is not surprising as cameras in consumer smartphones are mainly designed for taking photographs, not scanning barcodes. The outcome of using them is a loss of productivity per worker in the field, costs go up and their long-term value decreases.

Enterprise grade devices are a better option, as they combine all the usability of a smartphone with a higher level of functionality and ruggedness in enterprise environments. They actually increase the productivity of workers by quickly and accurately scanning barcodes with their integrated scanner, regardless of the levels of light or the condition of the barcode. So, while smartphones may be cheaper initially, enterprise grade devices will prove they are more valuable over time.

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