Technology remains one of the keys to continuous improvement in manufacturing, especially as production, inventory, and fulfillment processes have become more mobilized and data-driven.

There are many mature technologies that can help in these areas, including mobile computers, barcode scanners, and even mobile printers. But one niche product that’s particularly versatile on the shop floor and gaining in popularity is the rugged enterprise tablet.

On the shop floor in manufacturing environments, rugged tablets can be used for a number of critical needs, including recording work-in-process (WIP) transactions, time and labor, and quality assurance results. This is in addition to their usability for standard inventory transactions, including scanning barcodes and even managing inventory, orders, and fulfillment.

With the proper mounts, tablets can also be used on forklifts and in delivery trucks and other vehicles. But there are further use cases as well, including field inspection and delivery tracking.

The key to the proliferation of tablets in manufacturing operations is the availability of a rugged, durable device that offers more screen size and computing power while withstanding all-day use and abuse in industrial environments.

In the past, tablets were largely designed and built for consumer or office use, and getting ruggedized versions designed for the shop floor was an extremely expensive proposition. But new-generation tablets, such as Zebra’s Xplore series, are now purpose-built for manufacturing, warehousing, and other industrial environments, and they deliver durable workhorse performance, connectivity, and versatility at an ideal price point.

For example, Zebra’s XPAD L10 is a 10.1” hard-handle tablet that provides rugged mobile computing in the warehouse with a hard-handle for easy carrying. The device is built with a magnesium frame that’s harder than steel but lighter than aluminum. The XPAD L10 is put through extensive resistance and military-grade testing everything from dust and water to concrete drops.

The XPAD L10 isn’t just a rugged device, though. It features an 8-core Intel Core-Series processor with added memory to deliver fast app performance and minimize delays in data sharing. Performance is blazingly fast on standard 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and downloads are up to 600% faster and uploads up to 300% faster when using 4G.

Thanks to its faster processing, remarkable battery life, and larger memory capacity, the XPAD L10 consumes less power to deliver outstanding computing performance. You get up to 10 hours of standard battery life and up to 27 hours with Zebra’s hot-swappable extended battery.

Connectivity is also enhanced with these tablet devices, with RJ-45, USB 3.0, and USB-C inputs to go along with its high-speed Wi-Fi and options to add 4G LTE and more.

The device also includes an on-board 1D/2D barcode reader and trigger, so you can use your table as a scanning and data capture device. It’s also usable both indoors and outdoors with a Corning™ Gorilla Glass™ display with either 500 NIT standard luminosity or optional 1000 NIT View Anywhere™ luminosity.

Of course, robust security is always a concern in any enterprise manufacturing environment, so Zebra’s XPAD L10 also offers multi-factor user authentication, a built-in fingerprint reader, and a TPM 2.0 cryptoprocessor for tamper-resistant security. There’s also a standard Kensington lock slot and you can add an optional SmartCard/CAC reader.

If you specify, build, or use solutions for mobile computers, you know that Microsoft has abandoned the special version of Windows they built years ago for this space. That has caused many purpose-built applications to become obsolete or require rewrites. The Zebra tablet supports Windows 10 Pro, giving customers good options to continue using their legacy systems and a powerful platform for future applications.

The XPAD L10 is just one of several new models of rugged tablets from Zebra, which include slate-style models as well as 2-in-1 laptop/desktop replacements.

To learn more about Zebra manufacturing tablets and find out if these devices are a good fit for your operations, contact our team at Versona for a personalized assessment and consultation.

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