TMCnet Feature
July 30, 2020

Frank P. Crivello of Phoenix Investors Discusses Traditional RF Scanners vs. Tablet-Based Scanning

By Special Guest
Frank P. Crivello, Chairman & Founder, Phoenix Investors

Warehouses have used radio frequency (RF) scanners to read barcodes and other inventory labels for years, but advances in scanning and computer technology now offer more affordable solutions. Standard RF scanners are relatively expensive and often limited in functionality, which has led to a trend of warehouse operators implementing tablets in the warehouse for scanning purposes.



Phoenix Logistics, a third-party logistics (3PL) provider based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, has been transitioning away from traditional barcode scanners in favor of tablets. Phoenix selected the Samsung Tab A with a rugged GDS IntelliSkin case to provide extra durability in the warehouse environment. The tablet is wirelessly linked to a Zebra DS7368-ER scanner, which can read bar codes up to about 70 feet away. This combined setup costs about $1,000, compared to the $1,500 standard RF scanners that Phoenix previously used.

The logistics provider has noted a variety of benefits after making the switch to tablets. Some of these include:

  • Connectivity – The tablets offer cellular connectivity in situations where wireless internet is not available. This facilitates real-time inventory management in the furthest corners of the yard or within new facilities where data lines haven’t been installed yet. This capability enables new operations to get up and running faster and provides existing facilities with seamless redundancy should the primary data service go down.
  • Customization – Tablets are more versatile than standard RF scanners, which is ideal for organizations like Phoenix that run warehouses with products for multiple customers. Adding a more robust case makes a tablet suitable for cold storage, for instance, or e-commerce distribution operations may choose to reduce the cost-per-unit even further with finger scanners. The customization potential of a tablet setup is extensive.
  • Simplicity – While RF scanners may require more specialized repair from the manufacturer, most tablet issues can be easily fixed internally by the IT department. Attachments and replacement parts are easier to source for a tablet than they are with a standard RF scanning system. 
  • Scalability – Given the reduced cost per system, scaling up equipment to meet growing demand becomes more cost-effective. If demand lessens, tablets are more easily repurposed to other tasks or departments, ensuring they don’t go unused.

Phoenix Logistics reported additional benefits generated by the tablet due to its increased functionality. Whereas RF scanners may only be used for scanning, mobile tablets offer a variety of other capabilities. Warehouse workers at Phoenix Logistics currently use tablets for:

  • RF scanning
  • Time clock (punching in/out)
  • Daily equipment logs
  • Accessing the Warehouse Management System
  • Employee email
  • Company news/announcements
  • Reminders

Tablets have been trending in warehouses recently because of their affordability and versatility. The supply chain is going increasingly digital, which puts more importance on flexibility and real-time data in warehouses and DCs. While RF scanners may still have a place in some facilities, tablets are proving to be better suited to the modern warehouse.

About Phoenix Logistics

At Phoenix Logistics, we aggressively invest in the most advanced WMS, EDI, and other related technologies to drive efficiency and savings for all of our shipper customers. We prioritize customer satisfaction in all of our services, and that includes providing cost savings wherever possible. Our technology capabilities enable us to provide e-commerce support, lot and serial number tracking, transportation management, freight brokerage, and other logistics solutions tailored specifically to the needs of the individual customer.

For more information about Phoenix Logistics and how our technology can streamline your logistics and improve your bottom line, please contact us today.

As an affiliate of the real estate firm Phoenix Investors of Milwaukee, WI, Phoenix Logistics has unique and preferential access to an expansive portfolio. Phoenix Investors’ Senior Management includes Frank P. Crivello as Chairman & Founder, David Marks as President & CEO, and Anthony Crivello as Executive Vice President. Robert Kriewaldt serves as Phoenix Logistics’ Senior Vice President.


Edited by Erik Linask
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