As technology made inroads into businesses, it made organizations realize that the cost of deploying and managing digital devices is still worth it, thanks to the improved efficiency, productivity, and engagement, especially for the field force. This stands true across all industries having a remote workforce & frontline workers- be logistics or manufacturing, supply chain and retail, hospitality, or manufacturing.
Considering logistics and trucking alone in retrospect, according to a study¹, a typical over-the-road fleet can spend up to 40% of its time idling, with a lead-foot driver using up to 20% more fuel than the average.
Making use of smartphones, tablets, and rugged devices, this overspending can be reduced, along with the overall safety and tracking. Which is one of the reasons why Vehicle-mounted devices have found a permanent place in organizations deploying field forces.
In this article, we’ll be discussing Vehicle-mounted devices, the industries which make use of them, the typical characteristics & ways to efficiently manage Vehicle-mounted devices for business benefits.
What are Vehicle-Mounted Devices?
Vehicle-mounted devices or Vehicle-mounted computers are digital devices that are designed to perform multiple business-specific operations while being attached or mounted to vehicles. These vehicles can vary, from full-fledged trucks and logistics vehicles to forklifts used in complex warehouse environments, factory floors, and manufacturing units.
Vehicle-mounted devices are needed to perform accurate and quick operations, calculations, and logging, making the job of frontline workers and field forces more efficient and error-free.
Vehicle-mounted devices are rugged devices designed to perform in harsh weather and extreme environmental conditions including shocks and vibrations. Vehicle-mounted devices are deployed for heightened productivity, to ensure that the mobile workforce or field force is always supplied with the latest data and information, can compute precise results leaving no room for human error, and manage large-scale inventories with efficiency.
Industries that Make Use of Vehicle-Mounted Devices Include:
Transportation & Logistics
Oil & Gas
Types of Vehicle-Mounted Devices
Conventionally, rugged devices or special-purpose devices are used as Vehicle-mounted devices, to ensure optimum operational efficiency irrespective of environmental and usage conditions. Owing to the versatile capabilities of Android-based devices including the ability to perform for longer periods, improved battery life, and user-friendly yet robust hardware and software. Android-based Vehicle-mounted computers are the most preferred Vehicle-mounted devices.
Honeywell, Zebra, Advantech, Xplore, Winmate are some leading manufacturers for Vehicle-mounted PC and computers.
Characteristics of Vehicle-Mounted Devices: The Must-haves
Flexibility to connect to any additional peripherals & accessories
Variety of display sizes
Shock and vibration resistance
Programmable function keys
Wide power input
Wide operating temperature & humidity range
Docking station or rugged vehicle cradle
Business Benefits of Vehicle-Mounted devices
Deploying vehicle-mounted devices drives several business benefits, let’s discuss them in detail:
Reduced Manual Work
According to a study² by FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration), each driver in the US spends approximately 19 hours a year in paperwork & logbooks. Frontline employees working in the field, factory floor employees, driving around transport and logistics vehicles spend a lot of time in paperwork, filing documentation, or maintaining inventory manually. With the use of vehicular technology and telematics, manual work can be replaced with improved and competent apps.
To enhance warehouse operations, Vehicle-mounted devices help in tracking warehouse inventory in real-time. Vehicle-mounted devices streamline work order management.
Increased Efficiency & Productivity
Reduced manual work also reduces the scope of manual error. When traditional paperwork is replaced with sophisticated technology applications facilitated by Vehicle-mounted devices, efficiency is improved, along with speeding up of day-to-day tasks.
Inventory management is streamlined, business resources and up-to-date and the frontline workers are also abreast of new changes to the system and policies. The field force can simultaneously accomplish multiple tasks using Vehicle-mounted devices, even in transit, thereby increasing the overall productivity.
Device Protection & Security
While any tablet device can be used to facilitate the activities and tasks of a field force, the advantage of using Vehicle-mounted devices is that they can be docked to the vehicle or the forklift instead of being stashed somewhere within the vehicle.
This prevents the device from rolling, falling, crashing and also eliminates the risk of device loss and theft. Docking or mounting the device onto the vehicle increases the device life, reducing the inventory costs.
Field force often feels disengaged due to the prolonged period it spends outside of the conventional work perimeters. Vehicle-mounted devices pave the way for a streamlined communication channel with the mobile workforce. Increased engagement leads to better interest at work, retention at the job, and improved productivity.
Vehicle-mounted devices deployed in logistics and transportation pave way for improved safety. The driver fleet can be remotely monitored along with live location tracking to detect disparities in adhering to organizational regulations. Also, the vehicles can be aligned to adhere to the ELD mandate or any other compliance regulations as needed for improved fleet management.
To avoid the last-minute breakdown of vehicles and forklifts, Vehicle-mounted devices can monitor the vehicle parameters, generate performance reports and streamline the maintenance and repairs for any vehicle malfunctioning during downtime.
Vehicle operators can also stay on top of device metrics, helping them to contact the service centers before the vehicle runs into an error. This helps in reducing costs spent on tackling last-minute repairs or on-job failures.
Vehicle-Mounted Devices: The Challenge
While the deployment and usage of vehicle-mounted devices are beneficial for business growth in the multiple ways discussed above, there are also a bunch of challenges that are ushered in for optimizing their performance.
Here’s a list of challenges in the deployment & management of vehicle-mounted devices:
1. Application Management
Vehicle-mounted devices need to be equipped with appropriate public as well as private business apps. These apps need to be updated remotely.
2. Prevention Against Misuse
The vehicle-mounted device needs to be locked to single or multiple apps specific to business apps to ensure that the device is not misused for any other purposes. For improved employee productivity and reduced data costs, blocking entertainment apps and websites on the Android-based Vehicle-mounted device is crucial.
3. Monitoring Device Parameters
As Vehicle-mounted devices help monitor the parameters of forklifts and vehicles, the Vehicle-mounted device also needs to be tracked to ensure that the device is up and running. Tracking essential devices parameters centrally is imperative for upkeeping the performance of Vehicle-mounted devices.
4. Troubleshooting Device Errors
Along with monitoring the device parameters, taking quick actions to rapidly fix Vehicle-mounted device issues is critical. The IT support needs to physically fetch the device, understand the device errors and fix them, resulting in excess maintenance costs.
5. Device & Data Security
Vehicle-mounted computer devices are loaded with business apps that hold critical corporate data that is susceptible to misuse or unauthorized access. Similarly, the device is always operating beyond the work perimeters, and hence it is more prone to theft or loss. Maintaining the security of Vehicle-mounted devices and corporate data is critical.
To ensure the communication between Vehicle-mounted devices and the back office, organizations need to deploy third-party communication apps which are again susceptible for personal use by the frontline team. Having a secure communication channel between the mobile workforce is important.
Scalefusion MDM for Managing Vehicle-mounted Devices
With Scalefusion, company IT teams can enroll, and deploy Vehicle-mounted devices over the air. With support for AfW, Samsung KME, and OEM partnerships, IT admins can quickly deploy Vehicle-mounted devices loaded with corporate usage policies over the air.
Android Kiosk Mode & Application Management
To ensure that Vehicle-mounted devices are locked to one or more business-specific apps, IT admins can enforce kiosk mode on these devices. The IT admins can install and update only business-specific applications, either available on the PlayStore or publish a private application and block all other apps on the device. This prevents device misuse, employee distraction, and excess data costs.
Monitoring & Maintenance
With Scalefusion DeepDive, IT teams can remotely monitor device health vitals including, battery, data, and storage usage along with device location. IT teams can also automate alerts on data, battery, and storage usage. IT admins can also remotely update the device OS version to ensure the smooth functioning of Vehicle-mounted devices.
Troubleshooting Device Errors
To ensure minimum device downtime without investing in the costs of fetching Vehicle-mounted devices to the service center, Scalefusion offers Remote Cast & Control. With Scalefusion RCC, IT teams can mirror the device screen, sync files, and also take navigate the device screen to rapidly fix device issues.
With Scalefusion, IT admins can configure stringent security policies and enforce passcode policies to secure the device and corporate data from unauthorized access and misuse. In case of device theft, loss, or failed passcode attempts, IT admins can remotely wipe off the device, enforce factory reset protection, and retrieve the device securely. Along with location tracking, IT admins can set geo-fences and whenever a Vehicle-mounted device exits the geo-fence, a security alert is sent to the IT admins. This is especially critical in Mobile device management for logistics.
Scalefusion extends Eva Communication Suite that powers secure communication between field forces. Using Eva Communication Suite, Vehicle-mounted devices can be used to connect to the rest of the team or the back office with VoIP calling, encrypted text and voice messaging, and image transfer.
Scalefusion MDM fuels Vehicle-mounted devices to perform critical business operations and helps organizations in leveraging the powerful features and business benefits of deploying Vehicle-mounted devices. These devices will continue to revolutionize warehouse operations and logistics along with other industries. The early organizations adapt the indispensable way to manage them, the better.
Renuka Shahane is a Sr. Content Writer at Scalefusion. An engineering graduate, an Apple junkie and an avid reader, she has a 5+ years of experience in content creation, content strategy and PR for technology and web based startups.