Which data collector to choose?

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Which data collector to choose?

The natural course of action for any business is to implement solutions that guarantee continuous development. Investing in automatic product identification devices is a reliable means of achieving economic progress. However, the decision to choose the most suitable tools is influenced by various factors. We present them in the following nugget of knowledge. We believe that this text will expedite the decision to invest in scanners and greatly facilitate navigation through the complexity of the chosen subject matter.

Basic division

Devices designed for scanning codes can be divided into two types, which significantly differ from each other in functionality and overall purpose.

The data collectors, which we will focus on in this article, are wireless devices equipped with a screen and a keyboard. They are also referred to as mobile terminals or inventory scanners. They have an operating system and storage space for data storage. They do not require an internet connection and are self-contained during operation. They are often equipped with additional features, such as enabling communication among employees.

On the other hand, barcode scanners are simple devices equipped only with a scanning module. They do not have their own display or software. Their purpose is to read information from a barcode and directly transmit it to a computer. We can distinguish between wired and wireless models, which connect to a central unit, for example, via Bluetooth protocol.

Why is it worth it?

Barcode scanners contribute to eliminating inventory errors. At the same time, they significantly reduce the duration of registration and logistics processes within a company. For many entrepreneurs, the ability to create their own supporting software is also important if there is a need for it.

Automation has become the foundation of efficient management. It enables rapid progress in productivity through multitasking and increased employee efficiency. Scanners are user-friendly, even for individuals without prior experience. They are convenient to use and durable in operation.

For whom?

For many years, terminals have been an indispensable tool for warehouse workers worldwide. They accelerate and facilitate the process of picking goods, receiving and issuing orders, verifying inventory levels, and detecting discrepancies.

In supermarkets, data collectors assist in monitoring stock levels and product prices. On the other hand, barcode scanners have become an iconic sight at cashier stations in retail stores. Increasingly, scanning devices with screens are also becoming standard in sales areas. They allow customers to access additional information about products by displaying their prices, descriptions, or related promotions.

For some time now, we have observed that small terminals have become an integral tool for couriers and dispatchers. Thanks to these devices, employees of courier companies can scan package numbers, quickly document damages through photos, or collect signatures from recipients, for example. It is difficult to imagine logistics operations without scanners, and their presence in modern transshipment centers or warehouses is essential. These devices are responsible for ensuring supply chain control at various stages of the flow of goods.

In many manufacturing facilities, scanners are being implemented to automate processes and effectively control them, starting from order registration to reporting machine failures. Terminals are also gaining popularity in offices, museums, and libraries, enabling rapid archiving of documents and collections, as well as accurate control of loans and returns. Offices often use scanners for proper inspection of fixed assets.

What do we pay attention to?

The environment and external factors. First and foremost, we need to purchase a device that is suitable for the conditions it will be used in. Let's consider whether the equipment will be used indoors or in an open space. Manufacturers provide scanners that are resistant to low or high temperatures, as well as exposure to dust, moisture, liquids, or shocks beyond normal ranges. In our product range, we offer terminals and barcode scanners with varying degrees of protection according to the IP scale. Depending on the requirements, the devices are made from materials optimal for the work environment. 

It is worth mentioning a few examples of "special task" protection. The ruggedness of industrial terminal casings allows them to withstand drops from a height of 1.8 meters. Companies with cold storage and freezer facilities will be particularly interested to know that equipment with heated keyboards has been released to the market. Manufacturers have also taken into account the needs of medical facilities. There are versions of devices available with special coatings that facilitate easy cleaning and maintenance.

Components and connectivity. Warehouse terminals can be compared to mobile computers. Similar to their stationary counterparts, they rely on a processor and RAM for proper operation, and data storage occurs in internal memory (and potentially on SD cards). Manufacturers provide efficient batteries, often available in multiple capacity options. 

It is important to pay attention to the display. Before making a purchase, we should check if the available resolution is compatible with the applications being used. If employees spend a significant portion of their day outside enclosed spaces, a high-contrast screen will be useful. Even on the sunniest day, data will remain clear and legible. 

Although devices with touch screens are widely available, it is important to remember that such a solution may not be suitable for every situation. Industrial terminals and some portable PDAs still feature keyboards with different key arrangements (e.g., numeric, extended with function keys, or alphanumeric QWERTY). Keys can prove invaluable in facilities where employees wear protective gloves. Devices equipped with keyboards are also much less susceptible to mechanical damage.

Connectivity remains a separate, very important issue. It concerns not only the exchange of data with the company's central unit but also with other devices (such as printers) or interaction between employees. Various scanner models offer a wide range of popular wired and wireless communication methods: Bluetooth, GSM and GPRS (including LTE), LAN, NFC, RS232, or USB. The right choice of device will protect us from interfering with the network already operating in the company. 

Operating system and software. Currently, two dominant operating systems are on the market: Windows (more often in the CE version, less frequently Mobile) and Android. Although the latter seems to be more popular recently, let's consider which solution will be best for us. Let's check if the application we want to work on is provided for the selected system. 

Microsoft has many years of experience in software for scanning devices. Their systems are still irreplaceable in industries related to manufacturing, large warehouses, or during inventory. Many reliable, well-tested specialist applications have been developed on Windows CE and Mobile. Android, on the other hand, seems to be a more intuitive and functional system for couriers and workers in the broad field of logistics. Many people highlight the nearly identical appearance and functionality of the system to the version known from smartphones as a major advantage. 

The market offers plenty of specialized software for managing warehouse operations or the supply chain. We also propose our own solutions that support the popular and reliable BaseLinker. It is necessary to consider the compatibility and modularity of the necessary applications as well as the seamless exchange of data with the company server, which our software ensures.

Construction and accessories. The external body serves not only a protective function but also is designed to provide comfort to the user. This is why manufacturers propose different solutions in this regard: from popular pistol-style housings, through shoulder-mounted terminals, to miniaturized versions of regular models (when size and weight matter). In our offer, we also have thumb scanners and cart collectors, specially designed with constantly moving warehouse vehicle operators in mind.

Accessories, such as car mounts, cases, or housing reinforcements, provide additional coherence with the work environment. Charging stations for devices or batteries, both single and multiple stations, are extremely important accessories. Let's also remember about backup and spare batteries. With proper equipment, we can be sure that no sudden accident or human error will interrupt the processes in our company.

Moduły skanowania. The topic is so broad and important that we have dedicated separate texts to it. We encourage you to familiarize yourself with them:

  1. about laser and camera modules
  2. about RFID technology

We hope that our "knowledge pill" will prove to be helpful for you. We are happy to advise on the choice of the most suitable equipment - we are waiting for email and phone contact.


For over 10 years, we have been supporting the Polish industry.

We will tailor a solution to fit your needs and budget.


+48 572 344 176