How To Guarantee A Better Mobility Rollout

Loading new hardware devices as part of a large mobility roll out for a mobile fleet

Because Mobility Partner Experience Counts

Fundamentally, a mobility technology partner brings together the necessary software, hardware, expertise, project management and support services to deploy an effective enterprise-wide mobility solution that aligns with your business goals, budget and timeframe.

Engaging a technology partner to roll out your enterprise mobility hardware update or new system offers practical benefits and cost savings that your company won’t accomplish in-house effectively.

Here we highlight five powerful reasons to partner with an experienced mobility solutions provider for your fleet hardware and system deployment.

Coordination

Coordinating your Android upgrade

Your mobility technology partner has knowledge of the latest hardware products to advise on best-fit devices for new and existing enterprise mobility systems. With strong ties to industry-leading hardware manufacturers and device management systems they will help you compare device offerings for many important parameters including competitive pricing on hardware and repair services.

As the world moves to the robust and reliable Android operating system, old Windows mobile devices are fast-becoming incompatible and obsolete.

Aside from co-ordinating your Android hardware upgrade, selection and ordering, your technology partner is well-informed to consult on any additional equipment your workers need, i.e. accessories, chargers, printers, attachments etc – to deliver a fit-for-purpose holistic solution.

Also, a rollout of new equipment can be coordinated to replace old equipment as each device eventually fails. Basically, the old ‘dead’ device is sent in and replaced with the fully-operational upgraded device. Your rollout will take longer, however your company will maximise the life of existing equipment and keep users supported, while purchasing new devices on demand.

Bringing important information together and liaising across all parties involved in your rollout, your technology partner coordinates a seamless deployment around your timeline and deployment schedule.

Learn the key essentials for upgrading your mobile computing fleet to Android.

Finance

Arranging a deal with no CapEx

Restricting sizeable capital expenditure (CapEx) is, understandably, becoming a priority for agile businesses seeking the flexibility and competitive edge to pursue emerging opportunities.

Reasons to reduce CapEx on mobility systems include:

  1. Fixed assets may not depreciate as expected; failing to meet the ‘useful long-term asset’ criteria for tax purposes
  2. Improved liquidity for funding shorter-term operational expenses (OpEx) and revenue-generating projects
  3. Leveraging a fast-tracked management approval process for OpEx spending
  4. Tax advantages in the current financial year for monthly or quarterly pay-as-you-go OpEx items
  5. Minimising the risk of unfulfilled ROI from aging CapEx purchases
  6. Avoiding CapEx losses due to inaccurate forecasting of the mobility system’s future capabilities.

A technology partner like Leopard Systems can help arrange finance contracts for your fleet of mobile devices, software expenses and supporting IT services.

> Lease contracts 

Similar to car finance, Leopard Systems can, on your behalf, arrange a lease contract, usually for three years, with monthly payments made by your company to the finance company.

Depending on how the lease is structured, at the end of the three years a residual payout figure may or may not need to be paid, and then your company will own the hardware assets outright. During the lease term, the monthly costs are treated as operating expenses (OpEx) for accounting purposes.

> Rental agreements

Alternatively, Leopard Systems can help arrange finance in the form of a rental agreement. In short, a rental fee is paid each month to a finance company who retain full ownership of the hardware. Because the rental items do not become a company-owned asset or liability, for accounting purposes your rental fees are ‘off-balance sheet’ payments, resulting in a cleaner balance sheet.

A rental agreement works well when, for instance, your company will be ready to refresh with new hardware in three years’ time, but needs interim hardware to operate now. You’ll likely get all new equipment for the same monthly cost as the old hardware.

When deploying a new or upgraded mobility system, a finance arrangement will save your company incurring operating costs until your devices are functioning in the field. For example, if there’s a rollout delay caused by a third party, i.e. a delay with your software vendor supplying your mobility software, then you won’t pay during this waiting period.

Protection

Secure warehousing to protect equipment

A technology partner such as Leopard Systems has the warehousing infrastructure and security to store your mobility system hardware investment during the setup and deployment phases.

Providing a clean, dry, fully insured and security monitored warehouse, your fleet of mobility devices are safely housed and, where necessary, staged ready for dispatch when appropriate.

Under the protection of your technology partner, your hardware can be tagged with an ID code for asset tracking and management.

In addition, warehousing with your technology partner allows your hardware stock to be procured and prepared ensuring no hardware delays affecting the rollout.

Shipping

Seamless shipping your fleet of devices

A reputable technology partner will handle all aspects of shipping out your devices so they successfully arrive at their destinations on time and fully operational.

All hardware bought into Leopard System’s secure warehouse undergoes a stringent process of asset labelling each device and recording device details into Leopard’s asset tracking system.

Leopard Systems is a trusted partner to many large mobile fleet supplying hardware and systems
Next, the rollout project is professionally managed to coordinate the delivery of hardware with your company’s requirements, such as timing with your in-house installation team, running training sessions and meeting your ‘go live’ dates.

Before shipping, each device in your fleet is fully configured and loaded with your mobility software, ready for immediate field operation when received.

Upon shipping to your required locations, your mobility devices are tracked and successful ‘proof of delivery’ is reported.

Discover what goes on behind the scenes of a successful mobile device deployment.

Support

Ongoing device fleet monitoring and maintenance

With in-depth knowledge of your company’s operations and business goals, an experienced mobility technology partner, such as Leopard Systems, is well positioned to provide various levels of device support and monitoring services.

From hardware repairs, reloading operational settings & applications onto devices, and asset tracking, to 24/7 mobile device monitoring and helpdesk technical support, your technology partner offers a single point of expertise to resolve device issues at the start of your deployment and beyond.

Available as professional support plans tailored to the size of your enterprise, or as standalone support services, your company will minimise business disruptions and maximise your ROI over the life of your new hardware.

Follow the links for more information about LeopardCare Monitoring and LeopardCare Support.

Partnering with a mobility technology solutions provider, such as Leopard Systems, to deploy your mobility fleet of devices enables your company to make the most of technical expertise, up-to-date hardware advice and managed warehousing for dispatch; generally not available within most organisations. Enterprise mobility deployment experience is paramount in successfully negotiating rollout challenges.

Contact Leopard today for more information.

Hazard Holiday: Why More Fleet Managers Should Use Telematics To Safeguard Drivers

Telematics helps to keep your fleet safe with data on the vehicle, the driving and routes

Holidays, more often than not, can be dangerous. In the lead up to the busy holiday period, when Australian roads become deadlier, fleet managers are being urged to take advantage of fleet telematics systems to help save lives.

Most Australian states and territories follow a ‘Towards Zero’ road safety strategy, similar to the ‘Vision Zero’ principle adopted by many overseas countries and US cities.

Simply put, the Vision Zero goal is to achieve zero road fatalities; because one road fatality is one too many. The Towards Zero campaign aims to ensure no-one is seriously injured on our roads.

Companies striving to operate safe vehicle fleets naturally align with Towards Zero’s key aims – to improve the safety of:

1) road users

2) road speed limits, and

3) road vehicles.

The fourth aim, to improve road and roadside infrastructure, falls outside the direct influence of supply chain operators.

Supporting Fleet Managers To Save Lives & Use Vehicle Telematics

While road safety education and action are helping to lower road fatalities, as it stands, over 1000 people lose their lives on Australian roads each year. And thousands of more road users suffer life-affecting injuries.

Importantly, vehicle telematics systems that monitor vehicles and support drivers have a clear role to play in curbing the future road toll even further.

For fleet managers — with a duty of care to your employed and contracted drivers, and a legal responsibility to ensure safe road activities within your entire supply chain — the operational visibility and data insights offered by a fleet telematics system can’t be ignored.

Vehicle fleet telematics systems provide numerous business gains, such as:

  • optimised routes and deliveries
  • better dispatching and customer service
  • greater efficiencies and productivity, and more…

But when it comes to protecting lives, how will a fleet telematics system make your drivers safer on the road?

What’s crucial for a fleet manager to know?

1. You’ll know where they are

Real-time GPS tracking of your moving vehicles using a fleet telematics system will give you a birds-eye view of the locations of your company’s vehicles and drivers.

Knowing where your drivers are is the first critical piece of information you’ll need to quickly help them if there’s an emergency.

Plus, if a vehicle ever leaves a designated ‘geofenced’ work area, the onboard telematics system can trigger an alert, to let you know when a vehicle may be stolen and driven to a non-designated area.

Telematics fleet management systems can also collect data from various vehicle systems, to indicate out-of-the-ordinary activities, for example, longer than normal idling, stationary positions or unusual speed readings – with an alert sent to notify head office.

If route changes occur due to unforeseen hazards, fleet managers will have this information automatically on hand to make timely decisions.

2. You’ll know how they drive

Fleet telematics systems can monitor driver behaviours and critical vehicle checkpoints such as speeding, seatbelt use, driving time for fatigue management, harsh braking, excessive acceleration and so on.

When compliance to meet safety and legal regulations is vital, what you measure about your drivers via vehicle telematics, you can then manage more effectively.

Road safety for mobile fleets is all about keep your fleet in good condition and being proactive
As your ‘chain of responsibility’ for on-road safety comes under pressure during holiday periods, fleet telematics systems help you set achievable safety and efficiency goals for your drivers. Think about instigating rewardable targets that engage your personnel to become consistently better drivers, for example, with behaviours that;

  • improve fuel economy
  • eliminate speeding
  • delay vehicle wear via less harsh braking and accelerating.
What’s more, telematics fleet management systems can be tailored to deliver automatic in-vehicle instructions and performance coaching to your drivers – to proactively train better, safer drivers of your road vehicles.

3. You’ll know the condition of your vehicles

Real-time data from your fleet telematics system provides pertinent details about the mechanical state of your vehicles. Vehicle fault diagnostics, engine hours, fuel consumption, instrument readings and sub-system data from each vehicle, plus pre-trip checks (e.g. for loads, load restraints, dangerous goods) and maintenance scheduling, offer valuable insights to improve fleet safety and productivity, as well as support management of your supply chain responsibilities.

4. You’ll know when something happens, or prevent it 

Although we strive for a safe road transport system that protects us from our own and others’ mistakes, unforeseen events and accidents still happen. Telematics can help to identify and monitor drivers who are tired and distracted and to assess unsafe road and weather conditions. Logging of work and rest times for heavy vehicle fatigue management and Electronic Work Diaries requirements can be extracted from vehicle telematics data. Add-on capabilities, available with Leopard Delivery and Leopard Telematics, such as in-cab cameras to view drivers and roads, means vehicle telematics systems may be effectively used to reduce fatigue- and/or weather-related incidents. Monitoring of heavy vehicle stability systems help to detect a vehicle approaching its handling limits. GPS tracking combined with collision detection sensors in the vehicle can be set to trigger an automatic accident notification with location data to emergency services and your head office. Furthermore, forensic acquisition of vehicle data could be helpful for understanding any potential losses and managing the subsequent investigation. Lastly, vehicle telematics systems can detect when a service is due or when a battery is close to the end of its service life, allowing appropriate tasks can be actioned to prevent your driver from being stranded due to engine problems. A well-designed vehicle telematics system will help improve driving and prevent accidents. Subsequently, this will enhance road transport safety, as a whole, and reduce safety risks across your entire fleet, for greater peace of mind.

Geotab & Leopard

Partnering with Geotab to deliver integrated fleet telematics solutions, Leopard Systems are proud to support the work of Vision Zero into Australia, alongside the Towards Zero road safety campaign.

Leopard Telematics™ provides a simple-to-use platform interface that delivers rapid alerts, for fleet managers to act on mission-critical events as soon as they occur. Integrating relevant telematics data with business systems offers fleet managers operational visibility for better decision-making. Driver scorecard reports from Leopard Telematics™ data helps fleet managers coach and incentivise for improved driving behaviours. Plus, provides customisable reports, to help you visualise specific information relevant to your unique operation. Contact Leopard Systems today to find out more about Leopard Telematics™ for your fleet.

How to develop an EWD solution that achieves your Fatigue Management responsibilities

An EWD can be an asset to managing your mobile fleet

Under the HVNL, written work diaries (WWD) and approved electronic work diaries (EWD) are required for fatigue-regulated heavy vehicle operators. How can you best develop an EWD for your fleet?

A technology provider’s view on addressing Australia’s heavy vehicle regulations within your enterprise mobility solution

Globally and in Australia, fatigued and drowsy heavy vehicle drivers are a recognised safety hazard and a major concern for the road transport industry.

Insufficient sleep, night driving and long work periods are all known causes of driver fatigue.

Combating fatigue and reducing fatal road accidents involving heavy vehicles is enforced under the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL); passed in most Australian states and territories in 2014. The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) is responsible for administering the HVNL in accordance with the Heavy Vehicle National Law Act 2012.

DID YOU KNOW?

In 2004, the Adelaide Centre for Sleep Research found that a person who’s been awake for 17 hours has the same driving crash risk as a person with a blood alcohol level of 0.05 (g/100mL); both are twice as likely to have an accident as a well-rested person with no alcohol in their blood. Worse, a driver awake for 24 hours straight has the equivalent driving crash risk as a person with a blood alcohol level of 0.10 (g/100mL), and is seven times more likely to have a crash.

Electronic Work Diaries

Under the HVNL, fatigue-regulated heavy vehicle operators, their employers and any party in the supply chain must ensure safe transport activities.

As part of that, fatigue management, including driver compliance with specified maximum work and minimum rest limits, is enforced by the NHVR’s legal requirement of written work diaries (WWD) and approved electronic work diaries (EWD).

Work diaries create an accurate daily record of an individual driver’s time spent working, driving and resting, including vehicle types, locations and distances covered, as evidence to obey the HVNL.

Approved EWD Systems

As the approving authority for Electronic Work Diary systems that meet the requirements of the EWD Standards, the NHVR, as of 29 November 2018, are yet to approve any independent enterprise mobility systems, integrated vehicle telematics systems or electronic recording devices as EWD tools.

This means a WWD, as the primary record-keeping method, must accompany any data and calculations generated from a non-approved electronic recording device or digital system, until EWD systems are approved by the NHVR as an alternative. The submission and approval process for electronic work diary systems is underway…

Road Safety Management

Since 1st October 2018, all parties involved in transport tasks are now legally liable for heavy vehicle road law breaches, even if you or your company are not directly responsible for driving a heavy vehicle.

Accordingly, consignors, consignees, packers, loaders, receivers, schedulers, as well as managers, directors, executive officers and corporate entities responsible for employees—all form an important ‘chain of responsibility’ (CoR) to ensure safe management of fatigue-regulated heavy vehicle operations.

Thus, when approved by the NHVR, electronic work diaries will improve safety, enhance work planning and reduce lengthy paper administration tasks.

Importantly, approved EWDs will provide a simple, secure and automated way to record work and rest hours for heavy vehicle drivers, as a legal requirement, and could provide access to more business intelligence data, therefore, becoming a real-time fleet safety, compliance and performance management tool.

EWD System Development

As a modern transport operator, integrating EWD functionality into your current enterprise mobility system or adopting an out-of-the-box approved EWD solution, will ensure you’re ready to meet your CoR fatigue management obligations.

Such an EWD system must be built to Electronic Work Diary Standards as set out by the NHVR.

Therefore, it may help to select an EWD-knowledgeable technology partner to develop a solution tailored to your needs and submit your candidate EWD system to the NHVR for approval.

 

Telematics & Mobility

Installed telematics solutions, such as Geotab, extract vehicle usage, performance metrics and GPS tracking data via a device plugged into the computer system of a fatigue-regulated heavy vehicle.

Such digital telematics solutions offer a convenient and automated way for the heavy vehicle driver to meet EWD requirements by collecting and recording accurate hours of driving, location and distance information when operating that specific vehicle. 

EWD can be an asset to your large mobile fleet

If the same driver is subsequently required to drive a heavy vehicle without telematics fitted, then a delivery tracking and fleet management solution, such as Leopard Delivery Cloud, operating via the driver’s smartphone and independent of the vehicle, could be used. This heavy vehicle driver tracking solution would log critical electronic work diary information for compliance, plus manage freight records and other logistics at the same time.

For drivers without access to vehicle telematics systems, the Leopard Delivery App may offer an easy way to collect accurate EWD information.

Sophisticated operations running complex vehicle fleets may well combine vehicle telematics and delivery mobility information to enable collection of EWD information in a consolidated and efficient way.

EWD System Technology Partners

In addition to productivity gains, Leopard Delivery has the capacity to intelligently extract, organise and manage EWD information from telematics sources and handheld equipment in compliance with NHVR’s EWD Standards.

Leopard Systems technology providers are available to partner with your organisation and help design or update your digital record-keeping solutions to meet EWD requirements. For peace of mind that your drivers will comply with EWD legal requirements, and that your organisation’s CoR obligations to your supply chain are met – talk to Leopard Systems today.

Find out what your organisation may need and speak with our specialists about implementing Leopard Telematics and Leopard Delivery for your heavy vehicle operations.

7 ways Push-To-Talk technology is replacing old-school radio comms to improve operational safety and performance

PTT provides multiple benefits for your fleet - from safety to convenience and management efficiency

Using Push to talk (PTT) technology instead of old radio communications, and replacing it with a digital PTT solution, could enhance your mobile fleet and logistical performance.

 

Smartphones. They’re an everyday fixture in our work and personal lives.

Yet many hazardous work operations need safe instant communications between staff, that typical touchscreen devices can’t provide, such as rapid voice broadcasts. Immediate voice transmissions cannot be received if you don’t have hands free to work the device or you’re in an environment where this action is impossible.

Therefore, many companies – for instance, logistics fleets, construction firms, field service teams and mining enterprises – are advancing operations by harnessing the speed, efficiency and agility that fast push-to-talk (PTT) communications achieve.

Here are seven ways implementing PTT technology, or replacing old radio communications with a digital PTT solution, could enhance your operational performance.

1. PUSH TO TALK & TRANSMIT

In short, digital PTT systems operate like two-way ‘walkie-talkie’ radio communication. A single push of a button allows a person to speak and transmit an instant verbal message to be received; by one other person, a group of people, or everyone on the closed channel. Not just live voice messages, next-generation digital PTT systems also transmit voice recordings, still images, video recordings and SMS-style text communications. PTT is used by dispatchers, team leaders and supervisors to communicate to their remote team, i.e. drivers, service technicians, sales assistants and warehouse staff on the floor.

PTT devices are small and convenient to use

PTT is used by dispatchers, team leaders and supervisors to communicate to their remote team, i.e. drivers, service technicians, sales assistants and warehouse staff on the floor. The turn-based single duplex method of verbal conversation, where only one person can speak at a time, manually controls the flow of information. This effectively prevents overlapping conversations and eliminates the misinterpretation of information.

In the past, traditional PTT systems used analogue radio systems on private licenced channels. But now that the number of available channels are declining, while the ongoing costs are increasing, analogue systems are almost unusable and soon-to-be obsolete. Legacy systems must upgrade to digital PTT systems to retain this vital communication service for managing operations.

2. PTT VIA DATA NETWORKS

Presently, PTT services are delivered via the digital/cellular mobile data network. This outperforms the analogue system by having an unlimited geographic range. This means it’s possible to talk, without interference or lag, from one side of Australia to the other, without the need for repeaters because cellular data or a Wi-Fi connection are used.
In fact, this type of coverage and the right network infrastructure makes digital PTT effective for operational teams to communicate with remote managers across the globe, at the touch of a button.

Digital PTT functionality can be added to smartphones and specialised mobile handsets, handheld devices, headsets, tablets, rugged water and drop-resistant handsets, and more. Additionally, numerous PTT services work on laptop, desktop and tablet computers via web-based portals.

3. CLEAR INSTRUCTIONS

You may be considering adding PPT technologies to your enterprise mobility system, as you move from retired radio networks to cellular networks, or as a new way to communicate with your mobile workforce.

Whether it’s instant instructions to your floor staff or in-cabin announcements to your vehicle fleet drivers, the principal advantage of PTT over making phone calls is rapid direct communication of critical information.

In addition, PTT features, such as voice-activated communication and Bluetooth connectivity, help to create a hands-free and tangle-free experience for the user.

PTT provides driver safety as they can easily communicate without having to use their smart phone device

4. DRIVER SAFETY

In Australia and other countries, using a mobile phone or hand-held smart device while driving is illegal. The laws may vary slightly from state to state and from country to country, but essentially touching the device while driving is prohibited, resulting in hefty fines and demerit points. From a safety perspective, driving while operating a mobile device is as dangerous as driving intoxicated; smart devices are a major contributor to injurious and fatal vehicle collisions.

Taking the same view of a worksite that operates machinery, forklifts and other vehicles, the distraction of a mobile device could reduce an operator’s concentration, resulting in workplace errors or accidents.

The good news is that PTT communication systems offer an excellent way for companies to reduce crash risks, comply with on-road communication standards and abide by road laws regarding mobile device use.

Importantly, when enabled by a PTT application on a device receiving incoming audible voice messages, a driver can hear an important message without removing his gaze from the road or taking his hands off the steering wheel to touch the device.

5. PLANT PROTECTION

In some workplaces, such as manufacturing plants, factory floors and retail departments, PTT technology allows a clear message to be delivered and for the receiver to acknowledge, in return, that they’ve understood the message. The digital conversion of a voice signal effectively filters out background noise, making it easier for the receiver to hear the message. Such clarity of information transmission prevents confusion, leading to error-free streamlined operations.

When quick messages need to be sent, for instance, to notify employees of a work hazard or an emergency situation, PTT achieves instant connectivity to staff. Compared to mobile phone systems, that take seconds to connect to the network and more time to establish a connection to another user; PTT is far superior when every second counts.

Also, a professional level PTT system allows a ‘group conversation’, where one user can connect to many colleagues at the same time, to work together more effectively. Plus, implement a chain-of-command group hierarchy that separates those who need to know one stream of information from those who don’t need to know and would otherwise find it distracting.
PTT applications are compatible with iOS and Android devices, including rugged devices, for when reliability and durability in extreme environments or remote regions is important depending on the type of work done.

6. ENHANCED EFFICIENCIES

Dispatchers communicating from internet-connected computers via a PTT application like Leopard Voice™,  receive rapid real-time location and status updates from field devices. This allows better visibility of ‘who’, ‘what’ and ‘where’ in order to enhance operations management and customer service.

PTT connects up operation management with your team on the ground

Leopard Voice™  flags which members of your team are available to talk, helping supervisors and workers identify who to communicate to, based on the situation. Plus, in a retail environment, PTT conveniently replaces annoying and disruptive voice announcements over public address systems, thus improving the customer’s experience of your business.  Leopard Voice™  flags which members of your team are available to talk, helping supervisors and workers identify who to communicate to, based on the situation. Plus, in a retail environment, PTT conveniently replaces annoying and disruptive voice announcements over public address systems, thus improving the customer’s experience of your business.

PTT securely connects your head office to job sites and fleet locations and allows tasks to be co-ordinated and situations to be responded to, in real time. This up-to-the-minute knowledge and connectivity enables faster decisions to be made, thus enhancing productivity across the board.

7. SYSTEM SAVINGS

In addition to the aforementioned benefits, adding PTT technology to your enterprise mobility solution will help your organisation save money in further ways;

  • No more fines for your drivers who’ve been caught illegally using a mobile device while operating a vehicle on Australian roads.
  • No need to pay for proprietary radio communications.
  • Stop paying for a separate phone SMS text messaging or calling service when you can use PTT to send the same information.
  • Better work processes reduce staff turnover costs.
  • Enhanced customer satisfaction for increased profits.

As PTT improves operational efficiencies, more savings are achievable. For example, your head office can instantly contact a subset of employees with an urgent change that may reduce fuel, or stop a mistake from happening, which in turn saves additional rework to fix the problem.

In closing, PTT systems range from simple to multifaceted. They can be added to your existing fleet of mobile computers, in transport and logistics as well as retail operations, to provide additional functionality and, more importantly, improve business returns without a major investment to implement.

If your enterprise has specific operational needs, that require hands-free instant secure communications, talk to Leopard to find a PTT solution, such as Leopard Voice™  that can be configured to deliver this useful technology for your business and safety requirements. Alternatively, add cost-effective PTT technology to the enterprise mobility solution your team is already using.

 

To find out more, and discuss your software, hardware requirements and mobility strategy, contact Leopard Systems today.

Leopard Systems on fleet management, mobile computing, real time data analytics

Leopard Systems’ Alex Koumaras recently sat down with Andrew Sill from Zebra Technologies to talk considerations for mobile fleets in this digital age. 

 

Video transcript – hear Alex talk fleet management and how data can make all the difference 

Andrew:

I’m here with Alex Koumaras from Leopard Systems and we’re taking a closer look at what we
need to consider in this new digital age when it comes to mobile computing. Alex thanks for
joining me.

Alex Koumaras:       

Thanks for having me, Andrew.

Andrew: 

That was the question Alex. What do we need to be considering?

Alex Koumaras:

Well, really, it’s about real-time data these days. That’s what we’re finding. So everything that
allows for the data that’s captured out in the field to be instantly up in the cloud, and to be
available for the business to analyse, is what it’s all about. And ultimately customer service is
what we’re all here for.

Andrew:

So what about machine-to-machine connectivity and the need to capture data and analyse data
and share data?

Alex Koumaras:

Yeah, absolutely. So some elements of data capture are user-driven and others are literally
captured automatically by the machines, out in the field. And that’s what we’re
experiencing at the moment, like an influx of data that’s being captured ongoing and synced up
into the cloud.

Andrew:

So let’s just focus on the work connectivity. What does that mean when we look at mobile
computing?

Alex Koumaras: 

Look, it’s to utilise whatever connections are possible within the device that you’ve selected. So
everything from cellular to WiFi, to Bluetooth, near field communication; being able to send that
information that you’ve either captured or are processing back to head office and then straight
back again, with an update or some other kind of workflow change that you require.

Andrew: 

When it comes to mobile computing devices nowadays, and taking into consideration the new
era that we’re in, what should businesses be looking for, from a functionality perspective?

Alex Koumaras:  

Look, categorically, they should be looking for something that doesn’t limit them in the future. So
when you think about the lifespan of these implementations, three to five years, I think you need
to have all of the options; cellular coms, WiFi, near-field communications, Bluetooth. These will
enable you to not only address your immediate needs, but also the future ones.

Andrew:

You have deployed thousands of mobile devices out there in the marketplace. What are the
general benefits that your customers are experiencing?

Alex Koumaras:  

Look, one of the major ones, it’s effectively an area that they don’t have to worry about all of a
sudden. So what we’re doing is taking the guesswork out of such a large fleet that can range into
the tens of thousands sometimes. So knowing full well that you’ve got a common image across
all of those (devices) and a version of hardware and whatever else, is definitely something that
customers benefit from and are able to actually see out a three to five year period.

Andrew: 

Tell me a bit about Leopard Systems.

Alex Koumaras:

We’re an enterprise mobility solution provider servicing the transport logistics, retail
and field service industries.

Andrew: 

Well, thanks Alex. You can find out more about Leopard Systems. Just visit them online at
www.leopardsystems.com.au. Thanks Alex.

Alex Koumaras:   

Thank you.

 

If you would like learn more about best practice enterprise mobility solutions for the transport and logistics industry, download our Transport Strategy Kit.

Upgrading to Android: How to navigate the next-generation enterprise mobility landscape

Android enterprise device management systems are far more reliable than the microsoft alternatives

Key considerations when upgrading to android enterprise device management

Innovative companies seeking strong business outcomes in 2018 and beyond are strategically upgrading their enterprise mobility systems to the world-leading mobile device operating system, Android.

Why? Because over the course of the next two years Microsoft will phase out all support for Windows Embedded Operating Systems leaving many businesses without a choice.

Unfortunately, if your organisation operates any consumer-grade or rugged handheld devices running Windows applications, Microsoft will not be releasing any more system updates, security patches or bug fixes; and specialist support for these applications will no longer be available when things go wrong.

In fact, ‘End of Life’ dates for Windows Embedded CE, Windows Embedded Handheld 8.1 and Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5 are 10 April 2018 (already passed), 9 July 2019 and 14 January 2020, respectively.

Importantly, there’s still time to start planning in order to make smart decisions about what your company needs to do to get your future-ready mobility system in place—whether that’s changing how you do business, upgrading old devices to  ensure Android-compatible devices and software are used.

For warehousing, manufacturing, transport and logistics, retail and field service companies with thousands of employees in Australia using mobile computers and handheld devices to streamline operations and service their customers; it’s an inevitable and considerable project to manage. But now’s the time to safeguard against becoming vulnerable or exposed by security breaches and viruses, struggling to fix software bugs while adding new applications and software capabilities.

Here, we outline what’s essential to consider when upgrading your company’s enterprise mobility system to the flexible, familiar and reliable Android platform.

 

Making the switch to Android 

First and foremost, if you’re a large company running a big fleet of mobile computers and handheld devices you’re likely to have a sizeable cash investment in the software you’re using, therefore, when Windows-based operating systems becoming obsolete, your software will need attention.

  • If your mobility software has been developed in-house or developed by a small software company, then it will likely need to be reworked to run on the Android platform – which, understandably, will come at a cost.
  • If your software has been developed by a larger software provider, such as SAP, Salesforce, or even Leopard Systems, and your provider has kept pace with mobile technologies and developed an Android version, then the majority of  software development work has already been done, providing for simplified migration. That said, it’s still a substantial project for your company to smoothly replace and transition from Windows to Android and to navigate your way through the changes necessary and potential challenges with your software provider.

Secondly, a considerable hurdle for your company to address at some point, is how to cover the internal costs, the external costs of new software development, the operational downtime costs and the costs associated with mitigating all potential risks associated with a changeover.

Furthermore, it’s a question of deciding on the right time, in essence when the balance – between continuing to use old Windows devices without incurring the upgrade costs and having the funds to support your inevitable upgrade and investment to Android – is right. Choosing when to make the upgrade investment, balanced against the risk of using a system that won’t be supported or updated in the future, will be unique to your company and mobile enterprise operations.

Lastly, is to be aware of the amount of time left on the Windows mobile ‘support clock’. Two years is not a long lead time when typical software development cycles can be anything from 6 to 18 months to rewrite specific application components in preparation for an Android upgrade.

 

The Android ‘Rugged Vs Consumer’ Device Debate

Although many companies consider implementing a mobility fleet of employee-owned consumer-grade devices via a BYOD approach, most organisations have discovered that the risks and associated costs with BYOD have proven unfavourable.

In many instances, employees may not own a suitable device, or their device may not run the specific software required, or using a personal device for work is just not practical.

Likewise, consumer BYOD devices don’t always suit business workflow and operations, and may end up costing more when the total cost of ownership over several years is factored in, accounting for increased repair and replacement costs and downtime losses.

The Android 'Rugged Vs Consumer' Device Debate

In contrast, rugged company-owned mobile devices have proven a superior investment compared to consumer BYOD devices because they:

  • Always have removable batteries – so you can replace the batteries after a busy shift or coordinate to renew batteries when they’re worn out, without any work downtime or losses.
  • Are less likely to break – so less downtime and lower repair/replacement costs, thus saving money over the life of the device.
  • Can have a comprehensive repair contract attached to them – providing a fixed cost of repair for the full lifecycle of each device, therefore supporting your hardware management costs and efforts.
  • Have model longevity – you can continue to buy the same rugged devices for 3-5 years, and not need a new model every 6-12 months, so staff remain familiar with the device model and the software configuration on it, to help maintain and maximise work productivity.
  • Have support longevity – you can access device repair and support for 3-5 years after the model is no longer being sold.
  • Have a greater range of accessory options, for example, vehicle cradles, battery chargers, multi cradles, printers and so on.
  • Are less likely to be stolen or lost because they are undesirable to the public as a personal item.
  • Have in-country enterprise-ready support mechanisms in place.

 

Navigating the Android Landscape 

If you’re running a Windows-based mobile fleet system with a software vendor who;

(1) may no longer be in business,

(2) may no longer offer support, or

(3) may have no intention of upgrading their software to Android,

then, first and foremost, it’s a matter of selecting an alternative software provider/system and plan transition to a completely new system.

Considerations when considering android enterprise device management

Justifiably, there are a few directions a company may decide to pursue as they navigate the move from Windows to Android. Rugged Android devices have been available to purchase for some time, however what steps do YOU need to take to optimise your investment and transition to Android?

Initially, determine if your current enterprise mobility software vendor has kept pace with emerging technologies and already provide for Android capability within their current software.

For example, if you use a proprietary mobile retail or transport software, has that software vendor kept up and purposefully developed for Android, as well as offering Android support?

If ‘yes’, and you’re satisfied with what that vendor provides, then this will be the most cost-efficient and beneficial path to take. A straightforward version upgrade for the mobile software on your handheld devices, that automatically works with your backend system, is ideal. Plus, with no major integration costs, work or downtime, you’ll simply continue business operations following an upgrade to new software on Android devices.

If your current software vendor does NOT support Android, then you’ll need to evaluate alternate software vendors that do, and you’re confident in partnering with for the next five to ten years.

This then becomes a larger decision and implementation project depending on how your mobile software needs to be developed to integrate with your backend business system. If you decide to move to new mobility software, then you’ll need to invest in suitable integration work in order to insert all the data into the correct identical places that your previous system did, to keep your business operations working smoothly and on track.

In contrast, if your mobility software was developed in-house, as a number of smaller retail, field service and transport companies have done, it’s highly likely that your system won’t have Android capability or support.

In this case, you’ll need to assess whether to manage your Android upgrade internally, which could be costly in development, or investigate alternative external software vendors who offer a ready-made solution, or have a roadmap and development cycle, that fits your requirements for Android, then manage the integration project.

 

Optimisation through mobile device management (MDM) 

In conjunction with moving your mobility solution to Android, now’s the perfect time to conduct a full assessment of emerging technologies and specialty services that your company may wish to harness in the future for system optimisation.

With the rapid pace of smart internet-connected devices – with sensors, cameras, trackers and more – creating exciting opportunities within the mobility-IoT ecosystem, it’s wise to make decisions that don’t exclude technology options for the future.

A future-proofed mobility strategy should encompass remote hardware access and management. Android is evolving and updating far more rapidly than any other mobile operating system previously. Therefore, the need to provide system upgrades and security patches on Android devices efficiently is vital.

Android rugged devices require weekly and quarterly updates for security, preventing important data from being stolen or the disruption of your service to your customers. In short, they need to be updated at least quarterly and much more frequently than Windows devices.

Therefore, you can’t go more than three months without some sort of Android device update. This equates to quarterly updates for the next five years, making MDM services a key consideration for any Android upgrade and part of an overall mobility strategy review.

 

What’s your Android strategy? 

As the next five to ten years will give rise to new advances in mobility technologies, while concurrently establishing a universal system for integrating such technologies, balancing future opportunities against unknown risks is essential.

Partnering with an enterprise mobility solution provider who understands and is at the forefront of driving innovation in this field will ensure the best outcome for your solution and give your company a competitive edge.

Leopard Systems are proud leaders in the provision of multi-platform subscription based mobility software solutions, hardware supply, device fleet management, rollout and support.

We’re skilled at implementing and deploying new hardware for large-scale fleets using your software solution of choice or our proprietary solutions best suited for your business needs.

To discuss your software, hardware requirements and mobility strategy, contact Leopard Systems today.

 

Already negotiating the transition? We also offer interim rugged devices for organisations to rent Windows devices while developing their Android mobility strategy. Rather than purchasing a new fleet of soon-to-be-obsolete Windows devices, rent these serviced and operational devices from Leopard Systems for a fraction of the cost. Don’t invest in a product that will shortly need to be replaced! Contact Leopard for more information about our device rental service.