Executive Perspective: Disruptive Handheld Solutions for the Logistics Industry

Mike Smola cropped.jpgFor decades, Panasonic has pioneered handheld computing and barcode scanning globally, refining and optimizing the technology based on user feedback. Two years ago, armed with that rich customer insight, Panasonic Mobility introduced its first handheld tablets, the Toughpad® FZ-E1 and Toughpad FZ-X1 in the U.S. In that time, Michael Smola, Director of Enterprise Sales for Panasonic Mobility in the U.S., along with his team, have driven significant growth in handheld market share. Panasonic’s disruptive technology has garnered the attention of many customers looking for a reliable solution to improve their supply chain. Here, Mike reveals why some of the nation’s leading enterprise companies have opted for Panasonic handhelds over well-established incumbents.

 I’ve been selling Toughbook products for almost two decades. While Panasonic has been the undisputed leader in rugged laptops and tablets for the last 14 years straight, we’re a relatively new entrant to the handheld market in the U.S. For my team, it’s incredibly exciting to introduce the Toughbook brand to a new set of customers in need of rugged, reliable and user-friendly devices for their mobile workers. We hear from enterprise customers that growing consumer expectations are placing new strains on their warehouse and distribution centers. From improving inventory accuracy to ensuring on-time delivery, our customers are constantly seeking new ways to improve supply chain efficiencies. 

And that is a major reason why a national logistics company recently selected the Panasonic Toughpad FZ-N1 fully-rugged 4.7” Android handheld and deployed it to workers at hundreds of distribution centers across the U.S. The company was looking to improve efficiency in the sorting process as shipments are prepared for on-time delivery. By the end of this summer, we will have deployed 10,000 handhelds for this one company alone. Why did this logistics leader select Panasonic over its handheld incumbents?

1. Revolutionary scanner design means less pain, more gain
The thin and lightweight Panasonic Toughpad FZ-N1 and FZ-F1 handhelds feature a groundbreaking ergonomic design unlike any other scanner on the market. A unique angled rear barcode reader allows the hand to remain in a natural position to scan and view the result. This “see what you scan” feature made quite an impression on the national logistics company during the evaluation pilot. Compared to other barcode scanners, the Panasonic Toughpad FZ-N1 resulted in fewer errors and increased scan speed. The end users on the delivery docks really liked the fact that they no longer had to bend elbows and wrists to see what they’re scanning – something that we hear often contributes to muscle strain and fatigue for logistics workers.

2. Long lasting, durable products increase uptime and spur productivity
As a core component manufacturer, Panasonic designs and manufactures handheld products in our own factories. Customers appreciate the fact that we can incorporate their direct feedback into our products. In addition, since we control each step of the design and testing process, Toughbook devices boast a failure rate of only two percent – the lowest in the industry – versus the laptop industry average of 11 percent. Our customers, especially those in the logistics industry whose businesses rest on meeting customer promises, can’t afford a minute of downtime. When the previously mentioned logistics company was evaluating the Toughpad FZ-N1 handheld against competitors like Honeywell and Zebra, they recognized that our longer-life batteries and quick charging capability would support multiple shifts and result in fewer units needed in the field. Increased efficiency, cost savings and a product that incorporated their feedback was a win-win-win proposition!

3. U.S.-based support means faster repairs and improved service
With handheld deployments often reaching thousands of units, our customers are especially keen to protect their IT investments and have high expectations when it comes to service. While most handheld computer companies have moved service and support operations offshore, Panasonic offers U.S.-based support, a strong warranty behind our product and quick turnaround on repairs – all of which are critical for our customers who have their own aggressive efficiency goals. Panasonic’s national service and support levels factored heavily into the logistics company’s selection of Panasonic handhelds for its 10,000 unit deployment.

I’m extremely proud of the Panasonic Team and this recent handheld win. It’s a testament to the team’s perseverance and the unique, disruptive technology on offer from Panasonic. These two strengths were perfectly suited for an industry looking for new solutions to longstanding concerns. This is only the beginning – we’re looking forward to helping additional enterprise organizations exceed their supply chain efficiency goals, satisfy their customers and equip their employees with the devices that are reliable and safe.

For more information on Panasonic handheld solutions visit us online.