Mobile computing: VDC Research surveys mobile and wireless users

It's all about mobility and wireless in the supply chain, says VDC Research.

By ·

On Tuesday, I wrote about the ups and downs of the market for mobile and wireless computing inside and outside the four walls of the plant and warehouse. VDC Research (, the Boston-based research firm, is surveying the end user market – that means folks like you, our readers at Modern Materials Handling – to find out how requirements and needs are changing.

You can have your voice heard and possibly win an Amazon gift certificate by clicking on the following link and participating in the survey. VDC will be taking input over the next three to four weeks. As David Krebs, director of VDC’s mobile and wireless practice says: “Our clients manufacture and design solutions for the market,” says David Krebs, director of VDC’s mobile and wireless practice. “We’re trying to collect the information about how end users are currently using the equipment and where are the gaps. That’s everything from the design of the device to the applications that end users are using or want to use.”

While mobile and wireless technology is used throughout the enterprise, it’s having a tremendous impact on the supply chain. “Mobility is a theme and a strategy today,” says Krebs.

A theme in that everyone is talking about mobility, from the blue collar worker in the warehouse to the white collar worker in the office. Credit the iPhone for the buzz. Just like Wal-Mart’s announcement five or six years ago that it was going to use RFID jump started that market, Apple has everyone talking about mobility. “The iPhone and the iPad have elevated the perception of mobility,” says Krebs. All of a sudden, there’s an app for everything, including the supply chain.

It’s a strategy in that mobility is all encompassing today. We’re not just giving scanning guns to order selectors, we’re putting laptops and PDAs in the hands of truck drivers, yard gate operators, field maintenance personnel and route truck drivers.

The big change there, Krebs adds, is that those devices increasingly are operating in real time. “Delivery and direct-to-store applications have been batch applications,” says Krebs. A driver captured information on a device, then downloaded it at the end of the shift when he returned to the office. “Companies are embracing cellular technology and GPS to do their work in real time,” says Krebs.

A second change, inside and outside the four walls, is that mobile devices are doing more. Not so long ago, they were single application devices. “The number of applications being supported on a mobile device today has grown from less than three to almost five,” says Krebs.

The last, and I think most important change, is that real-time data was primarily an operational tool. It helped people execute the tasks they had to perform. Increasingly, it’s tied back to real-time decision making inside the enterprise. “The ability to make a decision in real-time is enabling a lot of this interest and growth,” says Krebs.

With all the interest around the iPhone will there be an app for that in the supply chain app? Krebs says we are still very much at the hype stage, but it is an interesting concept. “Historically, people tried to cram an entire application onto a device as opposed to trying to think about it specificially,” he says. “That strains the resources of a small device. I think having bite-sized components of an application that are an extension of the enterprise will be the next wave of mobility investment.”

Be sure to click on the link to have your voice heard in VDC’s survey.

About the Author

Bob Trebilcock
Bob Trebilcock, editorial director, has covered materials handling, technology, logistics and supply chain topics for nearly 30 years. In addition to Supply Chain Management Review, he is also Executive Editor of Modern Materials Handling. A graduate of Bowling Green State University, Trebilcock lives in Keene, NH. He can be reached at 603-357-0484.

Subscribe to Modern Materials Handling Magazine!

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Find out what the world’s most innovative companies are doing to improve productivity in their plants and distribution centers.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Article Topics

Mobile & Wireless · VDC Research · Wireless · · All Topics
Latest Whitepaper
Hydrogen, the Future of Materials Handling
Large, successful organizations are integrating hydrogen fuel cell technology into their lift truck fleets and benefiting from lower operational costs, reduced emissions and improved reliability.
Download Today!
From the October 2016 Issue
Brownells’ new Iowa distribution center has taken touches—and miles—out of the order fulfillment process and increased throughput with near 100% accuracy.
System Report: Brownells new DC is flexible and responsive
Pallet Usage Report: Pallets Remain Critical in the Modern-Day Warehouse
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
Pallets: Supporting Product, Processes and the Enterprise
The smallest leak in performance or cost can bring a lean, nimble and speedy supply chain to a halt. During this 30-minute webcast we'll examine how Modern's readers use pallets to keep the wheels turning as they maneuver a road filled with sharp edges and potholes.
Register Today!
Brownells: Designing for Efficiency and Growth
Brownells’ new Iowa distribution center has taken touches—and miles—out of the order...
Industry celebrates National Manufacturing Day
Fourth annual Manufacturing Day is a grassroots effort by U.S. manufacturers to improve the public...

American Eagle Outfitters’ omni-channel journey
The fashion retailer has used warehouse execution software and automation to create a true...
The data-driven lift truck
Now that manufacturers and distributors are using the data from their automated systems to drive...