General hardware considerations
As WMS is a browser application there is no fixed list of hardware that should be used. Different combinations of barcode scanners, computers or tablets, operating systems, browsers and printers can be used, in most cases successfully. We’ve yet to find a desktop or laptop computer that is not compatible with WMS, and we recommend using Google Chrome as your browser.
The majority of our testing for tablet applications has been done using a variety of Apple iPads, but we’ve also used several Windows and Android tablets in the past without issue. When selecting a tablet it’s important to consider what accessories will be required - you may wish to mount the tablet to a trolley, forklift, or desktop, or to use a case with a holster, shoulder strap or similar for moving around the warehouse.
Devices will need to remain connected to the internet by Ethernet or wifi, so for mobile applications good wifi coverage is essential. Check to see whether you need a wifi mesh or booster in your warehouse.
The best barcode scanner will depend on your application. Wireless or Bluetooth scanners offer the user flexibility and freedom, whereas cabled scanners are more reliable at fixed workstations.
Trigger grip scanners are perfect for extended use but may be too bulky to move around the warehouse with. Check also that the barcode reader is compatible with the format of barcode you will be using.
Some devices feature a camera. If you intend to use this to scan barcodes, be sure to check whether the device supports this, either natively or via third party apps. Not all devices will allow the camera to scan directly into a browser, iPads being a notable example.
On the warehouse floor
For applications that involve roaming about the warehouse (eg picking, stock checks or put away) the user needs a scanner that is easy to carry and can be handled easily alongside hardware like a tablet, a trolley or basket, or the products themselves. The best solution will therefore depend on your products, your warehouse, and the hardware you’re using alongside the scanner.
Some things to consider are whether the scanner can be carried in a wearable or mounted holster, on a lanyard, or similar. A scanner that is light or small may be beneficial, and consider whether the scanner is compatible with the operating system of the hardware that the operator will be using.
We’ve found that the Opticon OPN-2006, Socket CHS 7Ci and Socket CHS 7Xi work well for these applications. All are very lightweight with long battery life, and can be worn on a lanyard. Many bluetooth scanners will replace the keyboard on a tablet meaning that you have to disconnect the device to access the onscreen keyboard, but these scanners have a button that reveals the keyboard when required - Ideal in the event of an unreadable barcode or unlabelled product.
At a stationary workstation
For static applications like packing or some Goods In workflows carrying the scanner is not a limiting factor, and proximity to the workstation is unlikely to change drastically. A scanner with a cabled connection is a good choice for reliable connectivity and fast scanning speeds. Consider scanners with other features like cradle mounts and constant scan modes which optimize the scanner for hands-free, high throughput scanning. We’ve found the Datalogic Quickscan I Lite QW2100 ideal for this kind of application.
For varied applications
It may be the case that the application you require a scanner for might be quite diverse - for instance when processing customer returns the bulk of the work may be performed at a stationary workstation but occasionally large quantities or bulky items might require the user to briefly move away from the desk. For these tasks versatility and reliability are the most important factors. A scanner like the Inateck BCST-70 switches smoothly and automatically between USB and Bluetooth connections, making it easy to scan in the occasional pallet.