If You’ve Been Thinking About Installing Rugged Tablets in Your Forklifts, Cranes or Container Bridges Because Operators Want or Need a Larger Touchscreen, Read This First.

Zebra is introducing a new 10-inch VC8300 Android™ vehicle-mount computer that can give them what they want and need to stay safe and productive as workloads increase. (It’s freezer-friendly, too.)

A forklift operator touches the screen of a Zebra VC8300
by Alejandro Silva Barron
November 02, 2021

When it comes to technology, it’s hard to find a one-size-fits-all solution that proves true to the claim. So, you may not believe me when I say the Zebra VC8300 Android™ vehicle mount computer fits all your warehouse and yard vehicles. But it does.

It also fits the needs of every vehicle operator, especially now that you can choose from the traditional 8-inch display with integrated keyboard or a new, 10-inch capacitive touchscreen model. Workers who prefer larger typeface or just don’t need a traditional keyboard will be grateful for this new option. So will operators who are constantly in and out of the freezer. There are smart heaters in the touchscreen and the computer to keep display ​and sensitive electronic components warm and dry.

It gets better.

The new 10-inch VC8300…

  • is the exact same form factor as the Zebra VC80x Windows® devices you and your workers were so fond of for so many years.
  • can drop right into any 10-inch vehicle mount, including standard RAM mounts and the ones you’ve been using with your legacy Zebra Windows or Android vehicle computers.
  • has Bluetooth® 5.0 and Bluetooth Low Energy technology built in.
  • still leverages Zebra’s Fusion Wi-Fi radios and software-switchable internal and external antennas to keep operators connected to their workflow apps and data. To give Wi-Fi network capacity, speed, and range a little (okay, a big) boost, we’ve also added in 2x2 MU-MIMO.
  • has a very loud front-facing speaker that will out “shout” ambient noise.
  • supports Workforce Connect Push-to-Talk (PTT) through the optional speaker/mic.
  • comes with Ivanti Velocity pre-licensed and pre-installed.
  • currently runs Android 11 and will be upgradeable to Android 14.
  • fully supports Zebra’s heated warehouse keyboard, which is designed for the harshest environments, including freezer condensing areas.

That’s a lot, right?

Well, I’m not done yet.

The 10-inch VC8300 also has 6+6 programmable keys, enabling users to complete multi-step operations with a single key push. If they need to input symbol characters not present on the physical or on-screen keyboard, they just have to press the diamond key at the bottom of the computer and a symbol keyboard will pop up on the touchscreen.

Why does all this matter? Let’s talk about that.

Time and Money: It Could Be a Barrier to Technology Adoption, or the Reason Why You Adopt New Technology

Though the pandemic slowed a lot of things down, I know it accelerated everything in your world: picking, packing, loading, unloading, put away, sourcing and more. It seems like nothing is moving as fast as it needs to, right?

If you want them to work fast, you need to be sure the technology driving their day can work fast too. It should be fostering productivity and efficiency, not hindering it. And as your business processes become more reliant on real-time data, it’s critical that your IT teams be able to manage the many devices and systems making a digitalized operation possible. For this to happen, you really need to be running the latest Android OS, even if you’re still using green screen apps.

I know what you’re going to say: “I don’t have the resources to rip and replace computers on all my [warehouse, yard, port or intermodal] vehicles.” And I completely understand. We’re all at the behest of budgets and priorities, right?

But I would imagine that it would be pretty easy for your boss and other decision-makers to buy into the business case for new 10-inch Android vehicle mount computers if…

  • you’re still using 10-inch Windows vehicle mount computers, which are technically end of life and not fully supported from a security perspective.
  • they knew it runs the applications you have today and no changes are needed. Ivanti Velocity is pre-loaded and pre-licensed on the 10-inch VC8300, and existing terminal emulation (TE) apps will run right out of the box. Workers get the same experience they have today – there’s no need to change the backend or retrain workers.
  • they realized the VC8300 can be used side-by-side with your older vehicle computers. You won’t need to replace the complete fleet at once.
  • you could show them it’s ready for the next generation of warehouse management systems (WMS). Since the 10-inch VC8300 is based on the latest Android OS releases, it’s ready for the new wave of Android-based WMS clients. It has a powerful computing platform and offers a flexible development environment, so you can evolve applications and scale your vehicle computing solution to support your growing operations as needed.
  • you told them the 10-inch VC8300 can be staged and managed in the same way as all the other Zebra devices in your warehouse (i.e., handhelds, wearables, etc.) and articulated how that would reduce administration efforts and cost.

and

  • they found out the VC8300 uses the same mounts, power cables, accessories and applications you’re using in your vehicles today! It’s a drop-in replacement, which saves you even more money on the installation cost.

Very little would have to change from the way it is today. Honestly, the switch from your current computer form factor to the right VC8300 would be almost imperceptible to bystanders – and your business. Well, except for the quite large productivity and efficiency gain that would occur across multiple functions after the switch, and literally within minutes.

IT wouldn’t have to spend all day trying to keep Windows, or even older Android mobile computers running optimally. The Android platform and Zebra Mobility DNA software suite powering the VC8300 vehicle computers is the same proven platform and software currently powering over 1 million handheld and wearable computers in businesses today. Device staging, management, maintenance and app development would be consistent and easy across all form factors which eases the job of IT specialists and saves administration cost.

And it wouldn’t take new hires weeks to learn the new technology, as the Android operating system (OS) is a familiar user experience. Even vehicle operators accustomed to Windows vehicle computers would feel comfortable using the Android computers on day one, as the apps themselves would essentially be the same as the apps running on legacy Windows or Android vehicle computers – or Android handheld computers. And all warehouse workers would feel the relief of a frictionless, on-time operation.

Plus, the investment is minimal and return on investment (ROI) higher than some might expect.

If you know this is what your workers need but others have a different opinion – maybe they’re advocating for a 10-inch rugged tablet or they just don’t see why two extra inches in the display size matters – remind them:

  • whatever computer is used in vehicles must be able to work in bumpy, dusty, humid, hot, and freezing environments for years on end. They must also be able to handle multiple users and constant use in 24/7/365 shifts. (Though the device swap out is quick and simple, you don’t want to make it an annual habit.)
  • most warehouses, yards, ports, and intermodals are weak WLAN environments. Whatever computer is mounted in the vehicle must be able to maintain a strong signal.
  • not all tablets or vehicle mount computers are totally sealed like the VC8300. If they pick the wrong device and a worker hoses down the vehicle, the computer could have a permanent meltdown.
  • if workers aren’t happy, they won’t be as productive as you need them to be. And right now, everyone could use help to be even more productive.

Still have questions or doubts? Think the simplicity of the 10-inch VC8300 upgrade sounds too good to be true? My team and I would be happy to show you all your vehicle computing options so you can see that the benefits I just noted are real. (Plus, there are more that you might be interested in. There are just too many potential use cases and problem/solution sets to cover in this post.) You can reach us here.

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Editor’s Note:

Looking for more information on vehicle computing considerations and best practices? These two expert insights might be helpful:

We also recommend you check out this short video from mobility expert Alex Holdsworth about how the 10-inch VC8300 compares to other vehicle-mounted computer options:
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Alejandro Silva Barron
Alejandro Silva Barron is currently a Global Product Marketing Manager at Zebra Technologies where he is responsible for the Enterprise Mobile Computers and Software portfolio. Alejandro has more than 15 years of experience within the Enterprise Mobility industry and has brought to market key products and software solutions for Zebra.