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Tablet implementation into my business


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#1 niva5171

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Posted 13 July 2016 - 02:05 PM

Hello everyone! My name is Nick, and I am a Process Engineer at a small machine shop in Charlotte NC. I have a deli-ma I want to work through, and get your feedback! 

 

Here is the project background. We are in the process of implementing computers on the shop floor for operators to use to track production, and pull up needed documents. Each computer will need to be able to scan bar-codes, and print as well.

 

Method 1 (Mine):

    My approach is to have set up 15 workstations around the shop floor with keyboard, mouse, label printer (for printing bar-codes), and a bar-code scanner. This will be workstations, either a desktop, or all in one computer (always powered, plugged in to Ethernet). This makes it easy because they can use the printer, and bar-code scanner at any computer they are located at. Operators generally work on multiple machines throughout the day that are located all over the shop. Every work station has 1 printer, and 1 bar-code scanner, and they always stay with that work station.

 

Method 2 (CEO's): 

    His approach is to give every operator a tablet, and have strategically placed bar-code scanners and label printers around the shop. The tablets will need a charging station, will be on wifi, and only touch screens (he is against keyboards and mice). There are several issues I see with this approach:

  1. touch screens are harder to use ( and sucks when they get dirty, which they will very quickly in this environment.)
  2. Our ERP system will run slower on wifi versus ethernet.
  3. Having the tablet change default printers/ bar-code scanner automatically depending on location within the shop. (<---------My biggest obstacle)
  4. Small screen size
  5. can be dropped, lost/stolen, or misplaced easily

    I can overcome the barcode scanner issue by purchasing tablets with built in scanners, but I still have an issue with the printer. This needs to be a simple process, but I truly feel he is over complicating the process. There is not a huge need for operators to walk around with a computer in their hand.

 

 

SO, if I have 10 label printers around the shop, all on the same network, is there an easy way to have the tablet easily change default printers depending on where they are standing in the shop? I feel I can't overcome this issue...... I am completely opposed to his method in almost every way, but he does not listen to other ideas/research, and it is his way or the highway. So in my frustration, I need to figure out a way to make his method works (even though I think it is an absolute waste of money, and can be done easier and better).........

 

 

Any thoughts on the printing issue? really is a thorn in my side, can use any ideas at all. If you have any questions at all, please reach out to me, and I can clarify! Thanks everyone!



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#2 Gorbulan

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Posted 13 July 2016 - 02:27 PM

Do you know what the overall costs are for tablets vs workstations? Executives change their minds easily when they see how much their ideas can cost a business. Don't forget that your time is a also a cost, since IT personnel are very much on the side of "mission critical". 

 

I don't know of a way built-in to Windows where it can change default printers based on actual location. It can if it changes Networks (like from Work to Home), which is not always a location change.


Edited by Gorbulan, 13 July 2016 - 02:31 PM.


#3 Viper_Security

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Posted 13 July 2016 - 02:38 PM

are you talking about tablets? or tablet PC's?

 

We had a similar issue, but we went with option one sorta,

 

We have work stations (10 (so people can try Windows 10 or Linux before switching, etc))

We used 2 printers at either side of the store to save paper and keep the inside noise level somewhat low for the phone operators.

 

and the older customers, some do NOT like the tablets. I've had customers just give us their tablet because they didn't like it.

 

 

Also, the wireless print doesn't always work, (at least on Samsung tablets)


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#4 Gorbulan

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Posted 13 July 2016 - 04:51 PM

are you talking about tablets? or tablet PC's?

 

We had a similar issue, but we went with option one sorta,

 

We have work stations (10 (so people can try Windows 10 or Linux before switching, etc))

We used 2 printers at either side of the store to save paper and keep the inside noise level somewhat low for the phone operators.

 

and the older customers, some do NOT like the tablets. I've had customers just give us their tablet because they didn't like it.

 

 

Also, the wireless print doesn't always work, (at least on Samsung tablets)

 

That's true! Sometimes you just can't get tablets to print, even to printers designed for AirPrint and whatever Android's equivalent was. I just left a job with ~1500 iPads and they refused to print to the library printer at times. Still never fully solved that issue.



#5 niva5171

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Posted 14 July 2016 - 07:19 AM

Thanks for the responses guys! so they would be tablet PC's. Again, I really do not think it is wise for him to go the Tablet PC route, but that is the only way to go in his mind...... So what I am gathering is that you don't know of a way to have it switch? There would have to be 2 printers, half the tablets synced to 1, the other to the other 1? That pains me from a Lean manufacturing perspective of how much time they will waste walking around between printers. 

 

I was looking into the surface pro 4's, which for 15, the setup would be cheaper than the all in ones by about 7k, but I don't know how to do the printing and barcode scanners, so that is a HUGE flaw. Otherwise, the rugged tablets run about 1k cheaper than the setup for all in ones. Now, I can bring down the price of the All in Ones significantly, but, they are an awesome setup with how it is.

 

The way I justify it is that the amount of time it will take to setup, then the complication of using, and walking around to find the printers will add up over time, and make it more expensive than the all in one work stations.



#6 Gorbulan

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Posted 14 July 2016 - 11:18 AM

The way I justify it is that the amount of time it will take to setup, then the complication of using, and walking around to find the printers will add up over time, and make it more expensive than the all in one work stations.

 

This is an important aspect to consider with this project. Have you brought this up with the CEO or is there no point?



#7 niva5171

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Posted 14 July 2016 - 11:28 AM

Oh I have =) I gave a 15 page report on 4 different approaches we could do (rugged tablet with built in bar-code scanner, surface pro 4, All in one work station, fan-less computer work station). it lays out the cost, benefits, hardware, and concerns for each option. At the very end I give an analysis on different categories, ranking each option at which is best. Then a 1 page summary on which option would be the smartest to move forward with, and why. BUT, tablets are flashy and look cool, so thats why he wants them, and I already know im in a losing battle. If he wants to spend 25k on this, and not listen to the engineer who has spent months researching this, then do it. 

 

 

The crappy part is whatever direction we go with, I am in charge of implementing the computers, training the operators, and figuring out how to make it all work. So that is why I need to determine how to do the printers around the shop with tablets, because I know at the end of the day, he is going to ignore all my research, and go with his "brilliant" idea. 

 

From everyone's comments, it makes it sound like it is not plausible to have tablets automatically switch default printers depending on your location in the shop. 



#8 Viper_Security

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Posted 14 July 2016 - 11:44 AM

Oh I have =) I gave a 15 page report on 4 different approaches we could do (rugged tablet with built in bar-code scanner, surface pro 4, All in one work station, fan-less computer work station). it lays out the cost, benefits, hardware, and concerns for each option. At the very end I give an analysis on different categories, ranking each option at which is best. Then a 1 page summary on which option would be the smartest to move forward with, and why. BUT, tablets are flashy and look cool, so thats why he wants them, and I already know im in a losing battle. If he wants to spend 25k on this, and not listen to the engineer who has spent months researching this, then do it. 

 

 

The crappy part is whatever direction we go with, I am in charge of implementing the computers, training the operators, and figuring out how to make it all work. So that is why I need to determine how to do the printers around the shop with tablets, because I know at the end of the day, he is going to ignore all my research, and go with his "brilliant" idea. 

 

From everyone's comments, it makes it sound like it is not plausible to have tablets automatically switch default printers depending on your location in the shop. 

We use quick books and it's a little easier to switch between printers  but as i said before, wireless printing doesn't always work, so we email our customers their receipts and invoices now


Edited by Viper_Security, 14 July 2016 - 11:46 AM.

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#9 niva5171

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Posted 14 July 2016 - 11:58 AM

 

Oh I have =) I gave a 15 page report on 4 different approaches we could do (rugged tablet with built in bar-code scanner, surface pro 4, All in one work station, fan-less computer work station). it lays out the cost, benefits, hardware, and concerns for each option. At the very end I give an analysis on different categories, ranking each option at which is best. Then a 1 page summary on which option would be the smartest to move forward with, and why. BUT, tablets are flashy and look cool, so thats why he wants them, and I already know im in a losing battle. If he wants to spend 25k on this, and not listen to the engineer who has spent months researching this, then do it. 

 

 

The crappy part is whatever direction we go with, I am in charge of implementing the computers, training the operators, and figuring out how to make it all work. So that is why I need to determine how to do the printers around the shop with tablets, because I know at the end of the day, he is going to ignore all my research, and go with his "brilliant" idea. 

 

From everyone's comments, it makes it sound like it is not plausible to have tablets automatically switch default printers depending on your location in the shop. 

We use quick books and it's a little easier to switch between printers  but as i said before, wireless printing doesn't always work, so we email our customers their receipts and invoices now

 

 

Okay, I will look into that then, see what comes up of it! 



#10 Gorbulan

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Posted 14 July 2016 - 02:11 PM

Oh I have =) I gave a 15 page report on 4 different approaches we could do (rugged tablet with built in bar-code scanner, surface pro 4, All in one work station, fan-less computer work station). it lays out the cost, benefits, hardware, and concerns for each option. At the very end I give an analysis on different categories, ranking each option at which is best. Then a 1 page summary on which option would be the smartest to move forward with, and why. BUT, tablets are flashy and look cool, so thats why he wants them, and I already know im in a losing battle. If he wants to spend 25k on this, and not listen to the engineer who has spent months researching this, then do it. 

 

Why am I not surprised?  :rolleyes:

 

 

 From everyone's comments, it makes it sound like it is not plausible to have tablets automatically switch default printers depending on your location in the shop. 

 

Considering your description, it really isn't. Maybe if somebody made software to do exactly what you need, but something like that is going to be plagued with issues.



#11 niva5171

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Posted 14 July 2016 - 03:04 PM

 

 

Considering your description, it really isn't. Maybe if somebody made software to do exactly what you need, but something like that is going to be plagued with issues.

 

 

 

  :horse: Welcome to my struggle! haha. I was 98% positive it wasn't a real solution, but, I didn't want to jump to conclusions. Do any of you guys work for a company where you are using tablets/pc's to have operators input basic information?



#12 Gorbulan

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Posted 14 July 2016 - 04:18 PM

My current job had a person use a tablet to input information. It was the shipping department, no data entry. My previous job involved distributing and managing 1500+ iPads to students. Job before that I was a game tester on tablets, mostly iPad.

 

What do you need to know specifically niva?



#13 niva5171

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Posted 14 July 2016 - 04:22 PM

My current job had a person use a tablet to input information. It was the shipping department, no data entry. My previous job involved distributing and managing 1500+ iPads to students. Job before that I was a game tester on tablets, mostly iPad.

 

What do you need to know specifically niva?

 

I am just trying to do general research on it. What environments people put them out into, they company types, the kind of use, how it worked well, pitfalls they saw, things to be wary of, etc. Maybe if there is someone out there who has used tablets on the shop floor of a machine shop (lathes, mills, cnc machines, dirty/greasy environment) for operators to use. This is what I am working with, so I want to know from those who have walked this path before me.






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