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Overcoming mobile printing challenges

16 November 2017

New trends towards mobile printing create a fresh set of demands for manufacturers of printers for use in the workplace, especially devices used for printing tickets, receipts and labels. Leading label and barcode printer manufacturers now supply a comprehensive range of portable printers to meet many specific application requirements, explains Jörk Schüßler, marketing director EMEA, Citizen Systems Europe

The consumerisation of IT in business, including the growing use of BYOD (bring your own devices) and print on-demand at the point of purchase is revolutionising the use of small, mobile printers. 

International Data Corporation (IDC), a global provider of market intelligence, advisory services, and events for the information technology, telecommunications and consumer technology markets, has this to say about mobile printing. “The mobile printing paradigm is enjoying good market reception. Customers are educated about the value proposition and are engaging with mobile solution providers. Primary drivers, of course, are the requirements of an increasingly mobile and distributed workforce and the continued blurring of work and personal time.” 

After years of growth in the mobile worker population, we are seeing what IDC analysts call the ‘appification’ of almost everything, driven by the growth of mobile apps, which turn existing digital and physical world experiences into apps.

These trends create a new set of demands for the manufacturers of printers for use in the workplace, especially devices that are used for printing tickets, receipts and labels. One of the challenges is the complexity of creating mobile enterprise-wide printing platforms, linked to the best choice of print hardware, while delivering reliable point-of-transaction printing that improves worker productivity, labelling accuracy and responsiveness to customer needs.  

Quietly evolving

Although the science of printing has not leapt forward at the same rate of that for mobile scanning and data recognition, portable printer technology has nonetheless been quietly evolving in the background. The latest generation of portable printers has been made smaller, lighter and more robust, while incorporating greater functionality, performance and a longer battery life; this additional functionality has included WiFi and Bluetooth and easy integration with software development kits. 

Mobile printing is now a major focus for manufacturers, with cloud computing via mobile devices leading customers to request facilities to print from mobile devices, which is why the market leaders are expanding their printing capabilities.

Operational flexibility can be increased through the use of this new generation of portable handheld printers, which ensure long print runs without the need for frequent media changes. High capacity Lithium Ion batteries offer the capability to print for long periods with easy to change power modules giving extended day-long operation, without the need for recharging. Two station multi-chargers are normally available and give non-stop capabilities where prolonged continued use is required.

Many of today’s mobile printers are simple to integrate into mobile data capture and output systems, using standard wireless communication, including Bluetooth and WiFi, as well as serial and USB connections to other equipment. And because they are low weight, small and compact, they are easy to move about and carry on belt loops and wrist straps. Equally, they can be positioned in fixed locations and are tough and hard wearing enough for even the most challenging of warehouse environments.

In order to work effectively and enable efficient stock management, barcode printers must print clearly and consistently. Discrepancies in barcode printing can lead to scanning errors and product recalls, damaging customer relationships and increasing costs, but the latest printers from the market leaders minimise the likelihood of error. These innovative elements help to considerably improve efficiency and reduce the risk of human error, leaving staff then being free to focus on more important tasks.

Leading label and barcode printer manufacturers now supply a range of portable printers to meet many specific application requirements in terms of functionality. In addition, support is provided by value added resellers who are able to evaluate the available technologies and provide the most suitable barcode and label system to help businesses identify the solution that will enable them to carry out tasks effectively.