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Legacy manufacturing software meets connected consumer devices

By Randy Provence, Director of Digital Marketing, StayLinked on August 17, 2017

Filed under Discrete Manufacturing

A forklift being operated inside a warehouse

As hardware becomes more advanced in manufacturing and warehouse environments, legacy manufacturing software technologies are facing increasing challenges to keep pace with the advancements these new devices offer. Touchscreens on smaller connected consumer devices can present hurdles for environments that rely on terminal emulation applications, and replacing the mainframe application (and the most reliable piece of hardware in the enterprise) with a new system brings with it exorbitant costs and a high level of risk. Integrating StayLinked SmartTE on Windows 10 devices brings modernized functionality to your applications with configurable transparent keyboards, vector iconography, and touchscreen functionality. In fact, with StayLinked SmartTE and Windows 10, warehouse applications can be touch-enabled right out of the box.

For warehouses, the future is now

Imagine a worker on the warehouse floor is using a device with a keyboard that has been in use in a production environment for years. Suddenly, these devices are replaced with touchscreen handheld devices that don’t have hardware keyboards. The only way to interact with the host application is by using a keyboard on the screen via the manufacturing software. The keyboard now takes up valuable real estate on the screen and can be intrusive and counterproductive to the workflow.

StayLinked has developed an innovative solution. The StayLinked Smart Keyboard delivers the best user experience on touch-only devices. Because Smart Keyboard allows users to utilize the entire screen, they must no longer sacrifice usability for the sake of screen space. With Smart Keyboard, customers retain all their application’s functionality, which enables seamless migration to Windows 10 and to new state-of-the-art form factors without ever having to touch the host application.

Smart Keyboard is already proving its value in customer workforces around the globe, including major clothing manufacturers and outdoor recreational companies. These customers have been an integral part of ensuring that the technology, capabilities, and features of the StayLinked Smart Keyboard meet the highest standards and requirements on a global scale.

Modernized terminal emulation in the field

Terminal emulation remains the most implemented application deployed on ruggedized mobile devices because it is incredibly reliable and fast. Many ruggedized mobile devices continue to run a terminal emulation solution. But for today’s touchscreen devices the market is demanding a graphically rich and familiar user experience.

Recently, at a large automobile manufacturer, the StayLinked SmartTE solution was used in a global deployment that allowed the manufacturer to use state-of-art handheld devices to run existing applications. By using a centralized server, devices were updated almost instantaneously with the application’s new look-and-feel. Fields became buttons, headers were included with iconography, graphical elements were used, and the software keyboard was launched when needed with context in mind. Alpha keyboards were used for fields such as logins and passwords, and numeric keyboards were used for quantity and part number fields.

A wireless terminal emulation solution for Windows 10

StayLinked’s SmartTE terminal emulation solution includes a method for Windows 10 TE customers to take full advantage of today’s modern touchscreen devices with terminal emulation. The method involves transforming “green screen” application screens into easy-to-use, graphical screens with no changes to the underlying enterprise applications for all UWP-capable devices with SmartTE. Entry fields become buttons that can be selected by touch, rather than keystroke. And the keyboard has been designed with configurable transparency settings so users can still see the underlying screen.

“We’re excited about working with Microsoft to bring terminal emulation to a whole new range of mobile devices,” says StayLinked President Dan Hogan. “The idea behind the Universal Windows Platform is that you can run the same application across multiple device, something we’ve espoused for years.” And since the Windows 10 UWP approach allows the StayLinked client to run on any device supporting Windows 10, users now get the best terminal emulation application running on the Windows 10 device that best suits their needs.

Increasing productivity with modernization

Traditional TE solutions are, by the nature of their architecture and transport layer, incapable of dealing with the real-world inconsistencies of both Wi-Fi and cellular wireless networks. StayLinked TE delivers secure, high-speed terminal emulation while virtually eliminating dropped sessions.

Various attempts to use web-based applications in the manufacturing management process have proven to introduce latency—slowing down the application and degrading productivity. Inserting fat applications between the mainframe application and the mobile device to improve the user interface has the same negative impact.

When it comes to the all-important workforce metric—productivity—nothing has been able to beat terminal emulation’s combination of speed and reliability. Customers have had to choose between the speed of terminal emulation and the intuitive, graphical UI of browser-based or fat applications until now: StayLinked SmartTE delivers the speed and reliability of traditional terminal emulation with the intuitive, modern user experience of web-based applications.

To learn even more about how StayLinked and Windows 10 can help improve your warehouse applications and manufacturing management processes, visit www.staylinked.com/smartte. To get started, download StayLinked SmartTE for Windows 10 available on the Microsoft Store.

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