Engineering Versatile Handheld Inventory Management

Project Details

Design and Engineering Services for Handheld Inventory Management Technology

This customer partnered with Compass Electronics Solutions (CES) to develop their next generation handheld device for warehouse inventory management. CES engineering services helped design their connected, rugged device, while our prototyping and testing services secured product viability. The solution helped the customer secure a leading market position as a provider of this cost-effective, versatile solution, while delivering users a streamlined platform for warehouse monitoring and management.

CHALLENGE

CES helped this customer expand their line of rugged handheld electronic RFID readers for warehouse management. They already offer lines of HF RFID readers and recently expanded to deliver UHF RFID readers that integrate directly with a user’s smartphone. Their next project would include the combined capabilities of UHF and HF RFID scanning with a 2D barcode scanner in a single compact and intuitive electronic reader.

They trusted CES as a partner throughout the design process. From initial product ideation to product testing, CES helped guide the product development process. We also offered iterative design and prototyping services for concept trade-off testing. This helped to refine specifications and realize the opportunity to incorporate a pistol grip for more ergonomic use. Our engineering services group carefully considered component selection to ensure long-term product availability and plan for easy product updates.

To deliver reliability in industrial environments, the device would have to prioritze ruggedness. Viable solutions for warehouse management must be resistant to impact, moisture, cold, shock, and vibration. In addition to the practical necessity of these durability requirements, the device would have to maintain the certifications required to compete in markets around the world.

CES helped reduce development costs by utilizing the customer’s underlying UHF RFID and Android software. For reliability and low-power consumption capabilities, the device would further implement STMicroelectronics HF readers. The challenge was integrating the two RFID technologies and barcode scanner with an Android platform for intuitive user interface. With these design specifications refined throughout the requirements definition process, we began creating initial concept drawings.

SOLUTION

From the concept drawings and defined requirements, our electrical engineering team began crafting PCB layouts and mechanical design. The casing utilized multiple seals for ingress protection, including the primary seal on upper and lower housing and a secondary seal around the removable battery door. The device’s interior electrical and mechanical components rest within the protective casing, including four antennas for functional and connectivity capabilities.

A Wi-Fi/Bluetooth antenna allows the scanner to wirelessly transmit recorded data to a warehouse’s central inventory management system. Real-time capabilities allow for instantaneous access to information and streamlined warehousing processes, helping users reduce costs. Integrating two RFID antennas into a compact device without compromising either’s functionality required careful placement to prevent potential interference. Our mechanical engineers preempted potential design concerns with a configuration that allowed both UHF and HF RFID antennas to function independently. The final antenna provided GNSS (GPS) location on the device’s physical location for monitoring purposes.

As an all-in-one platform, the device delivers a single, compact solution with multiple scanning capabilities. With its own read/write platform, the device collects (reads) and transmits (writes) information for interpretation in an IoT network. CES was selected to design the solution for our depth of expertise in engineering services, complex system integration, RFID technology, and rugged, connected mobile devices. Located locally, the customer benefited from convenient communication and in-person meetings with our knowledgeable team of experts at our Eden Prairie,  MN facility.

RESULT

The project’s success delivered a fully designed and prototyped all-in-one handheld electronic reader. The connected device directly records RFID/barcode readings and wirelessly transmits them to the user’s inventory management system. Reporting can be set to update in real-time or as periodic updates, adjustable by volume of tags scanned. By building on the customer’s existing technologies we helped to deliver a solution with expanded functionality and increased durability at a more cost-effective price point.

Our comprehensive testing and compliance support helped ensure regulatory compliance and begin the certification process. Ruggedness was secured by compliance with IP67 ingress protection standards, constituting resistance to dust, water, and other environmental hazards.

The device further maintains IEC / EN 60950-1 product safety standards for information technology requirements and MIL-STD-810 (military standards) for durability and drop tests. In addition to independent UL certification, the product is designed to comply with the regional regulatory requirements of markets around the world.

Leveraging our engineering services experience with the customer’s intimate industry knowledge, we created a cutting-edge product that integrates existing technologies with new capabilities. This device delivered the customer a valuable market advantage as a compact, efficient, all-in one handheld reader at a lower price point than their competitors. Tasks that previously required warehouse managers to utilize three separate devices for UHF, HF, and barcode reading can now be performed on a single intuitive handheld platform. Close partnership and consistent communication throughout the development process laid the groundwork for CES to help the customer develop a product that will set new standards in their market.

CUSTOMER PROFILE

This customer is a global provider of electronic solutions for data collection and automation, especially in harsh environments. They support a variety of industries including transportation, industrial, healthcare, packaging and handling. Their mobile equipment for rugged environments increases the accessibility and efficiency of information systems with sensors, connectivity, and industrial control technology.

Design and Engineering Services for Handheld Inventory Management Technology
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  • Project Name Design and Engineering Services for Handheld Inventory Management Technology
  • Client Global Provider of Electronic Solutions For Data Collection and Automation