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Barcode terminals, PDAs: how to manage their maintenance?

PDA stands for Personal Digital Assistants. These devices have become a part of the daily lives of retail and logistics companies in recent years, to the point where their working order becomes a strategic productivity issue.

PDAs that don’t work, and you risk a business disruption. Terminal failures also generate costs. It also happens that they require the renewal of equipment, regardless of the homogeneity of your IT fleet.

For all these reasons, PDA maintenance is essential for the smooth running of the company. Here are a few rules to ensure their longest possible lifespan.

Why is it important to regularly maintain PDAs?

PDAs, or Personal Digital Assistants, are small portable devices. They combine the functionality of a computer with the convenience of a mobile phone.

These devices automate certain processes for greater agility in the daily operations of companies. Equipped with scanners, they allow the decoding of barcodes. This logistics equipment thus ensures the traceability, control and monitoring of products.

Keeping your barcode terminal fleet in good condition has more than one advantage. This is the whole principle of preventive maintenance, which allows you to secure your activity by anticipating breakdowns. In detail, preventive maintenance of PDAs helps to:

  • Avoid unexpected business disruptions;
  • Improve the budget management for barcode terminals, by favouring repairs over replacements;
  • Preserve the homogeneity of your PDA fleet for longer;
  • Reduce your carbon footprint by avoiding the purchase of new equipment.

Advantages of preventive maintenance of your barcode terminals

Preventive maintenance includes all maintenance activities that are scheduled in advance. This schedule of interventions allows to avoid future failures. In short, PDAs are repaired to avoid breakdowns. If there is a breakdown, then “curative” maintenance is carried out, i.e. repair.

Maintaining PDAs preventively means, for example, anticipating the peak times of the commercial year. During inventory or sales periods, barcode scanners are put to the test. Preventive maintenance allows to identify the weaknesses of the equipment before they degenerate into breakdowns.

A maintenance provider can also train internal teams on good practices to avoid breakdowns, and therefore interruptions in activity : preventive maintenance has a direct impact on the productivity of the production line. Another advantage: this maintenance is carried out at a time when the teams are not using the scanners. Your activity therefore keeps its usual rhythm.

What are the good practices for preventive maintenance of PDAs?

To protect your barcode equipment from breakdowns, a few behaviours should be adopted:

1 / In case of disinfection of the devices, use alcohol wipes and dry thoroughly. Avoid bleach, which can oxidise metal surfaces. Do not use abrasive liquids, such as those containing powder. These products can scratch the screens. 

2 / Clean the optical reading windows of your PDAs regularly. This is especially important in humid, dusty or irritating environments. 

3 / Do not open the housing yourself. You risk exposing the components and damaging the battery. Any attempt to repair the device yourself may also void the warranty. 

4 / Avoid exposing PDAs to extreme heat. Keep them away from heat sources, and do not leave them in a vehicle in hot weather. 

5 / Encourage the return of devices at the end of the day, and insist on charging routines. Use the original chargers to avoid damaging the battery, and do not use the PDA while it is charging. Also try to avoid letting the battery charge drop below 10 or 15%. Do not leave the devices plugged in when their batteries are recharged. 

6 / Extend the life of your tablets and scanners by planning a shutdown on average once a week. 

7 / A barcode scanner is sensitive to falls. These can disrupt the organisation of the internal parts. For example, you can use straps or opt for protective cases against breakage. 

8 / In difficult conditions, opt for hardened PDAs. These are particularly well suited to the needs of nomadic workers who work in the field.

How to choose the right maintenance provider for your barcode terminals?

First, make sure that the PDA maintenance professional you choose is competent in all of the above areas. You can also consider other criteria that guarantee effective and smooth maintenance:

  • Availability of a buffer stock. This ensures that you have replacement terminals while your PDAs are being repaired, avoiding long downtime.
  • Customised configuration of barcode terminals before they are delivered to your teams. This can save you time and effort, and ensure that the terminals are configured to meet your specific needs.
  • Computerised Maintenance Management System (CMMS). This can help you to track and manage maintenance activities, and identify any potential problems before they cause a breakdown.
  • Transparent pricing. This will help you to budget for maintenance costs, and avoid any unexpected surprises.
  • Helpdesk. This can provide you with support and assistance if you have any problems with your PDAs.
  • Management of manufacturers’ warranties. This can help you to ensure that your PDAs are covered by the manufacturer’s warranty, and that any repairs are carried out free of charge.
  • Return to workshop maintenance, even if the manufacturer’s warranty does not cover it. This can give you peace of mind, knowing that your PDAs can be repaired even if they are out of warranty.
  • Expertise in your PDA brands. This will ensure that the maintenance provider has the knowledge and experience to repair your PDAs correctly.
  • International availability of technicians. This can be important if you have PDAs that are used in multiple countries.
  • Traceability of interventions and systematic reporting of operations. This can help you to track the maintenance history of your PDAs, and identify any potential problems.

Codeo, as a European IT fleet manager, offers you all of these maintenance services.

What to do with irreparable barcode terminals?

If your maintenance provider determines that your barcode terminals are beyond repair, you will need to decide how to dispose of them. Make sure that the end-of-life professional you contract with has the following expertise:

  • Different dismantling methods: reconditioning, dismantling of spare parts, recycling in a partner network.
  • Guarantee of traceability of equipment throughout the value chain.
  • Erasure of sensitive data via licenses such as BLANCCO or destruction of the motherboard.
  • Recycling of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE).
  • Certificate of destruction.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your barcode terminals are properly maintained and disposed of, helping to protect your investment and the environment.