Key Points to Pay Attention to When Selecting a Handheld Mobile Computer

Handheld mobile computers come in many different variations to meet different applications and purposes. To effectively proceed with improving work or making it more efficient, it is necessary to select a model that matches the needs and workflow of the worksite. This section introduces key points to know regarding selecting a handheld mobile computer.

Device Selection According to Situation (Scale)

The different handheld mobile computer models have a wide variety of functions to match varying industries and applications. For example, to accurately carry out communication with a system within a large compound or store, select a type with a built-in wireless LAN interface. To perform work in a comparatively limited space, select a Bluetooth-equipped model. The page linked below provides a detailed explanation of the hardware and software selections and the environment required for handheld mobile computer operation, so read that information together with the information on this page.

Also, a model with a large display is best when it is necessary to check a lot of information all at once, but a compact, lightweight model that the operator can use for a long time without getting tired is best if the handheld mobile computer will be used at the checkout counter in a retail store. Furthermore, if the handheld mobile computer is expected to be used in a harsh worksite such as those in logistics and manufacturing, select a model with excellent shock resistance so that it is resistant to damage even when dropped. In industries such as the transport and home delivery industries, select a model with a long battery life that can use mobile phone networks for communication in order to transfer data between the handheld mobile computer and the headquarters while at the destination and on the move.

Precautions Regarding Installing Multiple Handheld Mobile Computers

If many handheld mobile computers are necessary at a single worksite, it is necessary to ensure that all the models have common operability. While there is no problem if the functions of the handheld mobile computers differ depending on the work environment and workflow, confusion will occur when personnel are moved to different positions if the operability between handheld mobile computers is not uniform.

Also, if a certain number of handheld mobile computers have already been installed, failing to select new units that share the platform (OS) of the existing units will lead to serious problems such as the inability to integrate different work activities and handheld mobile computers not operating. Caution is required regarding this point because even handheld mobile computers made by the same manufacturer will often use different operating systems from one manufacturing year to another. In KEYENCE's BT Series, all the handheld mobile computers use a common platform, so integration between models is smooth. Moreover, the key layout and the user interface are common for all the models in the BT Series, so no confusion will arise at the worksite if these units are used.

BT-W Series
BT-W Series

Because a common platform is used, software assets can be used effectively. The hardware can be selected to match the worksite without needing to worry about the software.

Uniform key layout
The BT Series uses a uniform key layout and the same user interface, which means that operators will be familiar with how to use the handheld mobile computer even when changing to a different model.

10 Key Points Regarding Selecting a Handheld Mobile Computer

This section contains an easy-to-understand collection of 10 key points to know regarding selecting a handheld mobile computer model. This information forms the basics of selecting the model, so we hope you will use it as a reference when considering installing handheld mobile computers.

1. Barcode reading performance

The important point is not whether general barcodes can be read but whether industry-standard barcodes can be read. Also focus on the reading speed and whether the read data can be viewed easily on the screen.

2. Drop resistance and waterproofing functions

Drop resistance and waterproofing functions

The industry standard for handheld mobile computers is that they do not break and they continue to function even if dropped from a height of 150 cm, which is the expected drop height when a standing person holds a handheld mobile computer. A waterproofing function is also indispensable when using a handheld mobile computer outdoors and in environments with spraying water. Greater handheld mobile computer durability is required when using them in harsh situations such as those present in the manufacturing and logistics industries.

3. Screen size and ease of viewing

Check whether the display can show all the necessary information and from what angles the displayed details can be viewed. If a large amount of information is required, the optimal model is one that uses a large display.

4. Operability

The operability is greatly affected by whether the terminal is easy to hold and whether it can be held for a long time without getting tired. The ease with which keys can be pressed and whether the arrow keys are in an appropriate position are also important points.

5. Continuous usage time

Image of continuous usage time
Continuous usage time

Focus not on the data written in the catalogue but on how long the handheld mobile computer can be used in the actual worksite when selecting the model. If the assumption is that the handheld mobile computer will be used in an environment where frequent charging is not possible, the optimal model is one equipped with a high-capacity battery.

6. Expandability

If someone says that they want to exchange data over a wireless LAN or that they want to exchange data in a wired manner because the environment is such that it is difficult for radio waves to reach devices, important points are whether the communication method can be selected flexibly and whether peripheral equipment can be supported.

7. Response

Even if the reading speed is fast, operations will still take a long time if the communication speed is slow, which will result in wasted work-hours. Especially when data is processed in batches, a poor communication response will prevent work from proceeding, thereby causing delays in the overall operations. Hence, it is necessary to also focus on the communication speed.

8. Ease of software development

When optimising handheld mobile computers to match the workflow and work conditions of the worksite, there are cases in which it is necessary to develop dedicated software. However, software development incurs a large cost. With development tools that do not require any programming knowledge, like the tools of the BT Series, installation and operation costs can be reduced by developing the necessary tools on your own, and this development can even be performed by operators who have no specialised knowledge or experience.

9. Compatibility

Even with the same manufacturer, there may be cases in which devices with different models or manufacturing years are not compatible with each other due to differing platforms, so caution is required regarding this point. Compatibility is maintained between the models in KEYENCE's BT Series. This provides peace of mind even when it is necessary to expand the system or to add different models.

10. Support

After-sales service—whether the support for malfunctions is complete and whether replacement units are provided—is the most important point when considering continued operation of a system. Key points for selecting the model and the manufacturer also include how good the provided technical support and installation advice are. Furthermore, focus has also conventionally been placed on whether matching models are available in inventory and can be guaranteed to be supplied in a stable manner in the event that a system needs to be expanded.

Common Problems During Use of Handheld Mobile Computers

Handheld mobile computers are devices that are used very often. Hence, it is very important to reduce running costs by selecting a model that can handle problems such as those shown below.

  • Devices have high power consumption and cannot be used for a whole day without being charged at some point.
  • The built-in battery deteriorates easily, leading to frequent replacements, which is wasteful.
  • Devices are not resistant to shocks from falls. They break easily and must be replaced.
With KEYENCE's BT Series of handheld mobile computers
  • It is possible to use the device continually for up to 32 hours (under actual operating conditions).
  • A power supply management algorithm is provided to prevent battery deterioration.
  • The excellent shock resistance minimises malfunctions, which reduces maintenance costs.
With KEYENCE's BT Series of handheld mobile computers