How to Choose the Right Android-Based Ruggedized Devices to Replace Your Legacy Windows OS Portfolio

How to Choose the Right Android-Based Ruggedized Devices to Replace Your Legacy Windows OS Portfolio

If you have been putting off the migration of ruggedized devices on legacy Windows OS, you are not alone. The question to consider is where will you be going? You have a lot to consider. Some of the questions we will consider in this article include:

  • Consumer vs. ruggedized devices
  • How ruggedized devices are different
  • Choosing the right ruggedized devices for the right workflow
  • Choosing the right Android™ OS platform
  • Overview of Honeywell’s Mobility Edge™ platform
  • Overview of Honeywell devices on the Mobility Edge platform

Consumer vs. Ruggedized Devices: 5 Questions to Help You Decide

There are five questions that you can use to help you level set whether to go with consumer or ruggedized devices.

  • Do your employees work in a challenging environment? If you employ warehouse staff, truck drivers, store clerks – the answer is probably “Yes.” Unlike consumer devices, rugged devices are specifically engineered to work even if dropped from a forklift or exposed to truck vibration.
  • Is your staff exposed to a wide variety of environmental conditions? If your employees are regularly exposed to water, dust, fluctuating temperatures, and other outdoor and indoor environmental conditions, you should consider ruggedization. Rugged devices are designed specifically to handle extreme conditions.
  • Do your workers need devices configured for your specific business needs? Rugged devices typically allow more OS and hardware personalization than consumer devices. Personalization allows devices to be configured to the optimal settings for your company’s unique needs.
  • Are your device repair fees adding up? A business with 1,000 mobile devices spends approximately $170,000 more per year to support consumer-grade devices than enterprise-grade devices. That’s because consumer devices have a shorter lifecycle than rugged devices, which also translates into a higher cost of ownership.
  • Do your employees keep sensitive data on their mobile devices? Consumer mobile devices are more susceptible to viruses and unauthorized access (your kids, for example) and are easily lost or stolen. An enterprise-grade, rugged device is more easily managed through your Mobile Device Management (MDM) tools. Honeywell does California Consumer Protection Act and General Data Protection Regulation assessments on our devices to ensure that our devices store data in accordance to these regulations. A consumer-grade device usually does not have such protections in place. Furthermore, Honeywell is diligent about its supply chain, both in software and hardware. With a consumer-grade device your sensitive company data does not enjoy such protection as oftentimes we do not know the source of software and hardware in devices available to the general public.

Building a Business Case for Ruggedized Devices

At Honeywell, we are little biased toward the ruggedized spectrum. We have millions of ruggedized devices the world over in every conceivable environment and workflow within the supply chain.

Gartner says, “Ruggedized equipment tends to be significantly more expensive than commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) devices – typically 2.5 to three times more expensive, when comparing list prices. When doing a full total cost of ownership (TCO) calculation, ruggedized equipment often comes out as having a lower or equal TCO, due to its longer life and the use of a single device across multiple (shift) workers. Customers often focus solely on the ability of the device to withstand drops, and, as such, believe that regular devices enclosed in a case, at a lower cost, could suffice. This may be true in some situations, but many other factors need to be considered regarding truly ruggedized devices.”1

As the sensitivity and criticality of your corporate data becomes more valuable to serve you with a competitive advantage, so does the device that stores such data. Would you trust your most sensitive company data to an off-the-shelf, consumer-grade device?

Evaluate ruggedized devices based on actual requirements. Ruggedized equipment usually lasts twice as long as consumer-grade devices. Because the devices are built for longer life and durability, you can expect:

  • Connector stability. When you introduce new connecters, you also are faced with 1) recabling, 2) testing new drivers, and 3) the use of converters – all of which affect uptime and potential stability.
  • Software stability. The OS and firmware are stable, which leads to less retesting and certification work.
  • Component-level stability. You get predicable performance with interchangeable parts for faster, in-field repairs.
  • Entire solution availability. Accessories such as readers and printers remain available as a complete bundle for an extended period of time.
  • Additional purchases are feasible. You will be able to buy the same equipment bundle at a later stage to meet new requirements.

Ruggedized equipment is purpose-built for mission-critical situations and includes features such as:

  • A display optimized for viewing in bright sunshine
  • Screen response optimized for use while wearing gloves
  • A design that works well in a broad range of temperatures
  • A design that works in dusty, as well as damp, environments
  • A superior scanning functionality for barcodes, compared with camera-based options, which produces faster per-scan times and fewer rescans
  • Long battery life that usually supports an entire shift, exchangeable batteries, and multidevice charging solutions
  • Improved device survivability, which is important when employees depend completely on the device, and the cost of downtime due to a device failure is high

Choosing the Right Ruggedized Device for the Right Workflow

Some might be tempted to focus in on one ruggedized device and use it for all workflows. It makes more business sense to choose devices that are designed and optimized for the workflows in your operation. You will end up with a portfolio of ruggedized devices – perhaps a smartphone-like device for casual scanning, a scan-optimized device, and a ruggedized tablet. It's usually more important to standardize on the OS and the vendor to drive operational efficiencies than to go all the way down to a single device from a single vendor for all use cases. However, within a single use case, locking into a single vendor's ecosystem of peripherals and accessories (e.g., truck mounts, scanners, and printers) for a given device would be preferable. For example, let’s look at two workflows:

Inbound/Receiving. Receiving and putaway combine the flow of goods with business-critical information about those goods. The speed and accuracy of this combination in receiving makes all the difference to workflows downstream. A solution for inbound workflows includes:

  • Mobile Computer Preloaded with Mobile Document Imaging (MDI) Software. Use the mobile computer to record receipt data and update BOH in real time using scans and minimal data entry. You’ll drastically improve productivity and accuracy over paper-based processes. And you’ll have real-time visibility into your inventory. Using the MDI software to electronically capture paperwork (import docs, MSDS, etc.) and both send and store those files electronically also provides immediate visibility to critical information.
  • Mobile Printer. By using a mobile printer, the receiver can remain at the point of process, labeling each pallet as it is received. This eliminates the unproductive travel time back and forth to stationary printers on the dock or in an office. Operators can receive multiple doors more quickly, so forklifts can clear received pallets more quickly and turn the doors faster.

Forklift/Vehicle. Throughout the supply chain, forklifts have transformed from material-handling vehicles into information-technology platforms that leverage computers, barcode scanners, printers, RFID, voice, and software to optimize complex workflows. Vehicle-mounted computing and data collection is a proven best practice for improving workflows. Equipping your vehicle-based workflows with computers and data collection solutions offers significant performance benefits:

  • Drives workflow productivity with automatic tracking of vehicle location and status.
  • Reduces material-handling costs while improving compliance and safety with better operational efficiency.
  • Optimizes order fulfillment rates and inventory accuracy with real-time tracking.
  • Prevents misshipments by automatically verifying pallet ID and dock-door location.
  • Streamlines operations while reducing labor costs and capital expenses by integrating technologies into seamless solutions.

Think Android Platform First, Ruggedized Device Second

All ruggedized devices running on Android are not the same. Honeywell has been working with Android since 2011. We have made massive investments in Android engineering competency. Honeywell helps companies confidently select, deploy, and manage Android operating system devices and services. As part of the Google-led Android Enterprise Recommended Managed Service Provider program, Honeywell provides customers more confidence in deploying Android solutions and making sure their enterprise mobility deployment is consistent and current.

Honeywell provides customers with a comprehensive set of enterprise services that address every phase of the mobility lifecycle to help streamline operations and reduce IT-related costs. Honeywell globally manages more than two million devices such as smartphones, tablets, and ruggedized mobile computers.

Honeywell is one of the only companies that delivers both Android Enterprise Recommended mobile devices and managed services. Honeywell's validated devices are built on the company's Mobility Edge platform, a common hardware architecture and set of software tools that provide IT departments with an agile approach for deploying, managing, and updating devices.

Mobile devices built on the scalable Mobility Edge platform help extend product lifecycles by supporting current and future versions of the Android operating system. Honeywell is one of the only rugged mobile computer providers to commit to supporting through at least Android 11 (R).

Introduction to Honeywell’s Mobility Edge for Android

Mobility Edge is based upon extensive research gathered from Honeywell’s global community of customers from a range of technologies. Honeywell recognized that businesses wanted a unified hardware and software platform for all form factors – one that allowed for rapid deployments, robust performance, and adaptability to changing needs.

We completely rethought our approach to meeting the challenges of supporting a mobile workforce, and Mobility Edge was the answer. This unified, dynamic platform for mobile computing is designed to:

  • Accelerate Deployments
  • Optimize Business Performance
  • Extend Lifecycle
  • Strengthen Security

Established service and support data went into the development of Mobility Edge. We optimized our mobility devices based on the work patterns of many customers and actual users to deliver more realistic testing and precise engineering requirements. Using historical insights from service data, we addressed common failure points during the design phase, making our Mobility Edge products more resilient and stable. We also mined our detailed support data to further improve and refine product quality. By providing a unified hardware and software platform with an agile approach, we can bring you more secure and reliable solutions across your operation.

Mobility Edge offers an integrated, repeatable, scalable approach to device management that is based on a common hardware and software platform. Designed for Android, it delivers a unified platform that all software solutions are based on. Businesses can develop and deploy faster while reducing development costs.

The Mobility Edge common platform is composed of:

  • Common SOM (System On Module), which includes the CPU, memory, WWAN (in selected devices), WLAN, Bluetooth®, near-field communication (NFC), and Zigbee (in selected devices).
  • Common Operating System Image with support for multiple generations of Android, from Android O through Android R.
  • Common Software Ecosystem that includes not just Honeywell software, but also Honeywell-approved ISVs (independent software vendors).

Together these common elements minimize your company’s cost, effort, and risk. They accelerate your time-to-value so you can start deploying devices into the hands of your mobile workers much faster. And they maximize your ROI by extending the lifecycle of your devices.

Businesses wishing to extend product lifecycle and gain a better return on their technology investment will be assured by the fact that Mobility Edge platform devices can be upgraded through Android R. Honeywell also provides critical security updates for up to two years past Google’s last security patch through its Sentinel service, giving customers a product lifecycle through at least 2027.

Honeywell is committed to the longevity and quality of the Mobility Edge platform.

What to Expect from Honeywell Ruggedized Devices

Honeywell’s rugged handheld computers provide multipurpose utility in an ergonomic form factor, driving improved productivity for your mobile workers and a lower total cost of ownership for your business.

Our handheld computers combine the advantages of consumer PDAs and high-end industrial mobile computers into a single rugged package. Like PDAs, Honeywell devices are designed with the worker in mind, and they provide targeted functionality, a tactical keypad, and enhanced connectivity. Because the devices are touch-based, they are more familiar to the user, which improves speed to productivity.

All of our Android devices are built on Honeywell’s Mobility Edge, a unified hardware and software platform for all form factors. It allows for rapid deployments, enhanced performance, and adaptability to changing needs. With Mobility Edge, a one-time investment in setup, deployment, and provisioning is reusable across all devices.

Honeywell Devices on the Mobility Edge Platform

The current family of devices includes the CT40, CT60, CN80, CK65, and Thor™ VM1A devices, all running on Mobility Edge. More devices are in process for future release. A brief overview of each device follows:

CT40 Mobile Computer 

  • Sleek, Ergonomic, Easy to Use All Day Long. The sleek, lightweight, ergonomic design fits easily in the hand – while the simple, intuitive smartphone user interface, enterprise-ready ruggedness, and long-life battery keep workers productive all day long.
  • Seamless Integration and Investment Protection. Easy compatibility and seamless integration with both Honeywell Connected applications as well as third-party applications such as MDM, Push to Talk, and VoIP software to maximize efficiency and protect your investment.
  • Advanced Data Capture Scanning. Offers three convenient scan engine options with enhanced data capture speed and reading range performance to improve worker efficiency; provides flexibility with a green LED dot aimer or a sharp red frame laser aimer for fast barcode capture, even outdoors.

CT60 Mobile Computer 

  • Optimal Power and Connectivity. Delivers all-day connectivity to business-critical data and systems with a powerful Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 660 processor, the latest 4G LTE/NFC connectivity, and long-lasting battery power.
  • Unparalleled Scanning Performance. Next-generation 2D imager delivers best-in-class data capture on linear and 2D barcodes. Optional scan handle for flexibility to switch between handheld and pistol grip operations to reduce worker fatigue.
  • Rugged, Ergonomic Design – Built to Last. Sleek, lightweight, and rugged. Fits easily into a pocket. IP65 and IP67 ratings against dust/water spray; can withstand multiple 1.5 m (5 ft) drops to concrete and 1,000 1 m (3.3 ft) tumbles.

CN80 Mobile Computer 

  • Rugged, Ergonomic Design – Built to Last. Minimizes downtime and lost productivity with extreme longevity: withstands 3 m (10 ft) drops to concrete and 2,000 1 m (3.3 ft) tumbles; IP65/IP67 ratings for dust/water spray and even immersion; cold storage and non-incendive options.
  • Best of Both Worlds – Keys and Touchscreen. Boosts productivity with a real numeric or QWERTY keypad for fast and easy data entry plus a full touchscreen for new or future application migration.
  • Unparalleled Scanning Performance. Enhanced 1D/2D scanning/data capture options with read ranges of 0.15 m to 15.2 m (6 in to 50 ft) typically required in today’s warehouses; optional scan handle for flexibility.
  • Long Battery Life to Drive Productivity. Long shifts, extended talk-times, and heavy GPS usage are no match for the CN80. Long battery life minimizes workflow interruptions and drives efficiency.

CK65 Mobile Computer 

  • Best-in-Class Drop Rating. A 2.4 m (8 ft) drop spec across temperatures helps you ensure maximum uptime, reducing spare pool size and saving on repair costs.
  • Support for Touchscreen and Keypad. Choose the data input method that works best for the task or app at hand, with support for newer touch-based or older key-based legacy apps.
  • Superior Wi-Fi. The best wi-fi in its class for reliable, drop-free connections: Bluetooth® 5 for headsets and other accessories and NFC in every model. No more struggling with bad connections!
  • Industry-Leading Battery Life: Maximize productivity with 28 hours of battery life – versus competitive models’ 14-18 hours. The battery is also hot-swappable so workers don’t need to reboot and lose their active session when swapping batteries.
  • Backward-Compatibility. Reduce your operating costs and risk by reusing existing CK3X accessories and batteries – no need to buy and deploy new ones.

Thor VM1A Vehicle-Mounted Computer 

  • Field-Replaceable Front Panel. Reduce maintenance costs by enabling in-house staff to repair the most common touchscreen and keyboard issues, rather than send the whole computer in for service.
  • Smart Dock for Easy Mounting and Removal. The Smart Dock feature enables mounting and removal in seconds without touching cabling, allowing computers to be quickly and easily shifted between vehicles as workloads change.
  • Built for All-Day Productivity. Fast processor, WLAN connectivity, integrated keyboard, and large 8-inch touchscreen keeps data readily accessible, while the ignition control feature helps manage power, saving startup time and extending vehicle battery life.
  • Cold Storage Option. Built to withstand extreme temperatures and rugged conditions, both indoors and out. Available with optional screen defroster for use in cold storage and freezer environments.

1Source: Gartner, Revisit Your Ruggedized Strategy Before You're Hit by the End of OS Support, Leif-Olof Wallin, Stephen Kleynhans, et al., Published 27 March 2017.

Barry J. Ewell

Barry J. Ewell is a Senior Content Marketing Communications Specialist for Honeywell Industrial Automation. He has been researching and writing on supply chain topics since 1991.