Spirit Data Capture

Spirit News Autumn 2015

Welcome to the autumn edition of Spirit Data Capture’s ezine for customers who are interested in information and news relating to handheld mobile computing and barcode scanning solutions.

In this issue, you can find the following articles:

Industry news and views

  • BarcodeLooking back to the birth of the barcode
  • Signs of problems in the supply chain
  • A new perspective on WiFi
  • Two of the latest case studies from Spirit

Industry trends and new releases

  • Recent changes in the software world
  • A new version of the QR code
  • The latest trends in wearables
  • A new tablet from Apple
  • WearablesZebra looks ahead to 2020

Recent reports and guides

  • Two new reports on enterprise mobility
  • Crucial factors when deciding upon a WMS
  • Helping Managed Services Providers to grow
  • The 2014 Logistics Report
  • How to select the best rugged device
  • Four White Papers from Spirit

We hope you enjoy reading this newsletter. If you would like more information on any of the items below, please call us on 01928 718800 or send an email to: helen.jones@spiritdatacapture.co.uk.

Industry news and views

The barcode is 40 years old!

Chewing gumAmazingly, it is now 40 years since the humble GS1 barcode was first developed and scanned in the US. The very first item to be scanned was a pack of Wrigley’s chewing gum.

Honeywell has been closely involved in barcode and scanning technology innovations since 1971 - and continues to develop solutions for a wide range of industry and commerce sectors. In 2013, the company developed the first wearable solution to integrate voice and hands-free scanning capabilities. Honeywell has now formed its own microsite that celebrates 40 years of barcode innovations and looks at some of the significant milestones and the company’s role in these.

Click here to check out Spirit’s barcode colour guide.

Taking stock of supply chain issues

A recent conference on warehouse technology organised by Hatmill, the supply chain and logistics advisors, identified seven key signs that could show that a supply chain is in trouble. The seven signs are:

  • Chewing gumRepeatedly failing to stock enough of the key selling lines
  • Too much over-stocking
  • Panic ordering of stock
  • A failure to capture sales information that would guide performance improvements
  • An inability to forecast new product sales
  • Poor delivery performance from suppliers
  • A lack of stock or supply chain monitoring

In reality, most or all of these topics can be addressed effectively by well-targeted enterprise mobility solutions – including applications such as stock control, asset management, inventory, picking and packing etc. Please contact Spirit for more detailed information.

The brighter side of WiFi

Wireless technology was perhaps once seen as a ‘dark art’, but this is no longer the case. In recent years, many manufacturers have focused on providing a better user experience by establishing a stable and highly manageable WiFi network. With the recent release of products such as Zebra’s VX/NX Series running on Wing 5, the dark arts have become a thing of the past!

WiFi itself is also evolving: it’s no longer just for allowing laptops to connect to your internal infrastructure. It now enables your users to make phone calls, stream videos, track work tasks and even track customers - all whilst keeping your data secure.

Zebra MPACTA WiFi infrastructure allows the automation of many tasks and many customers now expect free WiFi when on your premises. So, why not use this growing need to provide an even better in-store experience? With Zebra’s MPACT, you can now provide customers with navigation around your store or even send customised promotions direct to their smartphone, based on their location within the store.

And if the idea of managing a wireless network yourself doesn’t appeal, we can help. Contact us to find out how a Spirit Cloud Managed Service can enable you to make a trouble-free transition to a brighter WiFi future.

Putting it into practice

Spirit works with a wide range of companies in many different sectors of industry, commerce and government. Here are just two recent examples of companies that we’ve helped:

Food

Spirit helped Ginsters, the leading savoury pastry manufacturer, to review its warehouse devices to ensure that the company continues to deliver the highest possible levels of service to its customers. Ginsters needed new devices that would be easy to use; would interface with its existing system; and would provide accurate barcode scanning over a wide range of distances.  

Honeywell C3KXWe recommended the Honeywell CK3X as a suitable solution, as it offers omnidirectional scanning of 1D and 2D barcodes and has an EX25 near/far imager that can scan bar codes whether they are close or several metres away. We provided Ginsters with evaluation units, remote technical assistance and configuration support, as well as industrial printers and third party software. We also provisioned the devices and ensured that they worked properly. Ginsters is very happy with the new devices and we continue to supply technical support and a fully comprehensive servicing programme.

Transport and logistics

When leading transport and warehouse distributor, Bowker, wanted to streamline some of its warehousing operations, it asked Spirit to develop a more effective, more accurate and less paper-intensive approach to its warehouse activities. We provided a new warehouse application along with a SUMO ST395 tablet, a Honeywell SR61 scanner and a Datamax printer.

We developed a software solution that covered the company’s warehouse activities from start to finish, and this is now being used in all of Bowker’s warehouses. The new app allows Bowker to record goods into the depot and their movement around the site - and much more. We also installed WiFi in the Group’s Head Office and in the depots. Our solution has streamlined a range of operations, leading to a dramatic reduction in paperwork; fewer manual errors; less time needed to complete jobs; faster invoicing; and improved response and performance times.

To read the full articles, and to find case studies on a wide array of clients from many different sectors, please click here.

Industry trends and new releases

Recent software trends

The latest developments in the software world that are likely to be of interest to companies with mobile enterprises include the following:

  • A new attribute is being finalised by Android software developers at Google that will enable developers to ‘colour theme’ the Google Chrome browser in line with the website being visited.
  • Microsft ATAThere’s an important and continuing global trend of companies developing more mobile-friendly websites. Google has also released an update that prioritises websites that work well on smartphones, as mobiles are now used for more searches than PCs and laptops.
  • Last year, Microsoft acquired a new solution called Advanced Threat Analytics (ATA). This is designed to help businesses to protect their enterprise resources from targeted attacks on their cyber security. The new tool has built-in intelligence and monitors activity on the network for abnormal or suspicious behaviour. It is also able to detect and alert businesses about a range of other potential attacks or security issues.

QR developments

The QR code, which was developed over 20 years ago, has become widely recognised and used throughout many countries of the world and for many different applications. The latest development that has emerged from its inventor is the FrameQR code, which enables more exciting and appealing designs to be used than just the original black and white coded square.

The different elements that can be combined within the FrameQR code include logos, pictures, graphics and text. Even 3D graphics can now be used. This promises to open up some exciting new possibilities for the users of the code in the future.

To see a chart of the key barcode symbologies in use today, please click here.

Working with wearables...

Samsung WatchThe interest in wearables around the globe continues to gather pace. A report by Transparent Market Research predicts that by 2018, the wearable technology market worldwide is likely to be worth some US$5.8 billion.  It seems as if a wearable can be developed for almost any purpose – including a host of different sporting and health applications.

The most commonly sought wearable is still the watch. At the moment, the Apple Watch dominates the market - the company claims that 10,000 apps have already been developed for it. However, the latest Android smart watches (including, for instance, the new Samsung Gear S2) now look likely to challenge this position in the future.

Currently, the business uses for wearables are fairly limited, but it’s just a matter of time before they are employed more commonly to complement or even replace smartphones. They can already be used in various ways to collect data and to improve efficiency. Watch this space...

Another bite of the Apple

Yet another offering from Apple is in the offing – this time, it’s a new and bigger screen version of the iPad, which is likely to be particularly well-received by business users. It has a range of new features, such as an attachable smart keyboard (an optional extra); a special ‘Pencil’ stylus; four speakers; a battery life of ten hours; and the 12.9” HD screen, which offers split-view multi-tasking.

These developments should help to make the new tablet attractive to both field and office workers. The iPad Pro also offers impressive processing power. At the moment, it seems that it’s likely to be available from November.

Zebra takes a peek into the future

At a recent conference held by Zebra, the company gave a host of interesting facts about the changing face of technology in different industries. Here’s a quick glimpse:

Internet of ThingsThere will be six billion mobile phones by 2020 but machine-to-machine (M2M) communications will occupy 42% of the mobile bandwidth. The ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) is becoming a major driver of change for businesses. Meanwhile, Zebra is busy developing its indoor location technologies - and globally, it is second only to Apple in this field. The company is also developing a wide range of other mobile technologies.

In the retail sector, companies are moving towards an omnichannel approach, with stores being just one part of this and mobile apps playing an increasingly important role. Retailers are focusing on areas such as delivery, stock visibility and operations management. Enterprise mobility solutions are therefore an integral part of this overall strategy.

Meanwhile, in the transport / logistics and manufacturing sectors, enterprise mobility solutions will again play a key role in shaping the future. Distribution operations have evolved rapidly in recent years – for instance, Zebra reports that between January 2008 and January 2014, parcel volumes increased by a staggering 421%. Many transport and logistics companies are now adopting IoT solutions so that they can have real-time data and intelligence for smarter working. However, manufacturing continues lead the field in terms of industry sectors investing in IoT solutions and this sector is also increasingly using location services on the plant floor.

Recent reports and guides

Enterprising reports

Enterprise MobilityEnterprise Mobility Exchange has recently featured two reports that have highlighted different areas of activity in the enterprise mobility arena:

  • The first is called ‘Enterprise Mobility Simplified: create a rapid and effective mobile app strategy’. The report shows that in 2014, the main drivers behind investment in enterprise mobility solutions were productivity, efficiency and profitability. However, many businesses still fail to gain the optimum benefits from their mobile solutions and applications. The document shows how to cope with the deployment of complex apps; solutions that can simplify the process; and the development and use of an effective mobile app strategy.

The report concludes: “Essentially, the mission which drives enterprise mobility is to simplify processes to enable employees to complete tasks faster, more efficiently and more conveniently; reach and engage more employees…; and rapidly create almost limitless mobile contexts, to achieve things that couldn’t be done before, either due to cost, time, location or complexity.”

  • Meanwhile, another document, ‘Exploring the need for Enterprise Mobility Management Solutions: what does EMM really mean?’ looks beyond mobile device management (MDM) to the next step (EMM), which takes a unified look at the whole mobility enterprise. In addition to MDM, this holistic approach covers elements such as the management of security, applications, information and content.

One of the driving forces behind this is the growing use of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), which has brought its own management challenges. There’s little doubt that EMM is a growing trend – the report suggests that over 29% of practitioners plan to invest in an EMM solution over the next 12 to 18 months.

Both reports are free and can be downloaded from www.enterprisemobilityexchange.com. To find out more about the different enterprise mobility solutions that could help your business, please contact Spirit.

WMS: how to make the right decision

A Warehouse Management System (WMS) can play an integral role in providing customers with a fast and reliable service, leading to higher levels of satisfaction. But how can you know which factors you should consider when buying a new WMS?

MailsolveMailsolve has produced an article that details some of the crucial issues that should be explored. These include ease of use; complete transaction management; flexibility; integration; reporting and analysis; CRM; functionality; and RoI.

The company says that buying the correct WMS should “...increase throughput, reduce costs, allow optimal allocation of resources, saving you time and money in the long run while optimising your customer service levels. The converse can cripple your business in the short to medium term.” For more details, read the full article, which can be accessed from www.mailsolve.com.

To see how our warehouse management solutions can help you, please click here.

Managed Services – a growing sector

KaseyaKaseya has recently highlighted research by MSPAlliance that suggests that 25% of current global IT spend is on managed services – and that this is expected to rise to 50% over the next five years. The company has therefore produced a report entitled, ‘The MSP Guide to Higher Growth: market evolutions and what it means for MSPs’.

The report starts by saying: “A successful managed services business is reliant on a solid business strategy and service delivery model, as well as finding the right technology for its needs.” It then looks at how MSPs (Managed Services Providers) can formulate a successful strategy with the ultimate aim of achieving growth, by focusing on factors such as pricing, bundled services and the marketing strategy.

The report can be downloaded from www.kaseya.com. To find out more about Spirit’s own Managed Services, please click here.

Fuel for thought

FTAThe Logistics Report 2014 from FTA makes interesting reading. For instance, it suggests that by the end of 2013, economic and business performance indicators were both showing signs of improvement. Indeed, the report forecasted continuing economic recovery throughout 2014 and 2015. However, for the transport and logistics sector, 76% of the companies surveyed said that high or volatile fuel costs are still seen as one of the most pressing issues.

Two other key issues identified in the report included:

  • Visibility - “Logistics providers must be at the forefront of systems and processes to allow retailers and manufacturers real-time visibility of stock in the supply chain...
  • Scalability - “Operations that adapt and flex to seasonal changes in volume, massive annual growth rates, and shifts in range, shape and scale.”

Effective enterprise mobility solutions can play a key role in mitigating all of these issues. For instance, they can help with stock management and with tracking the movement of goods. They can also ensure that drivers are assigned tasks in the right order and are given the right routes - as well as avoiding the need for repeat journeys through the use of electronic proof of delivery applications etc. Ultimately, the right solutions will help to boost a company’s efficiency, productivity and profitability.

Contact us for more details and to find out how your company could save time and money.

Choosing the right rugged device

Xplore Technologies has written a useful article on the merits of rugged mobile devices – and how to select the one that is best for your specific needs. The article, ‘To be or not to be? Rugged without regret’, looks at issues such as the operating system used; the level of security available in the device; and the use of an effective mobile device management system. To view the article, please click here.

For a quick overview of the merits of rugged devices compared with consumer devices, please take a look at Spirit’s simple guide (click here).

New White Papers from Spirit

As part of our continuing commitment to keep you informed, we have recently produced four new White Papers, which are now available from our website. Just click on the name of the paper to find out more:

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Please feel free to pass this newsletter on to your colleagues. If you would like more information on any of the items, please call us on 01928 718800 or send an email to: helen.jones@spiritdatacapture.co.uk.


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