I work for a mid-size company involved in the transportation industry that is planning to implement a mobile system that will link its drivers and people in receiving and shipping sometime this year. We are at the very early stages of this project. Can you tell us how to get started?
Sure. The first step is to carefully examine and evaluate exactly what you hope to accomplish with mobile and even wireless/mobile systems. The biggest mistake most companies make is aiming too high with their expectations, or trying to implement extensive and complicated systems that are essentially unnecessary early in the game. If you are looking to develop a system that can track driver arrivals and departures, and keep track of deliveries and shipments, then you may just need simple PDA-type handheld computes that employ any one of a number of checklist-type programs that ask simple questions and require simple input. Drivers can use them when shipments are received and delivered, and people on the loading/receiving dock can use them to keep tabs on inventory. You can employ a simple docking solution for synchronization, or use the built-in infrared capabilities of these handhelds to transfer data. When searching for software, make sure you select something that is easily 'tweaked' fro your particular needs, and can easily be adapted and improved down the road (so to speak!). Also, don't forget to select PDAs that are easy to use and understand, and are somewhat durable. Once you get this simple synchronization system established, you can expand it with such things as RFID tags on the inventory, and even wireless communications and access. The trick, though, is to start simple and go slow.
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