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insignia's guide to: Buying a Mobile Thermal Label & Receipt Printer

Supplier: insignia
27 November, 2017

Businesses move to mobile printers because they allow the printing of labels or receipts whenever and wherever they are required, boosting employee productivity and reducing the likelihood of error.

Many businesses move to mobile printers because they allow the printing of labels or receipts whenever and wherever they are required, boosting employee productivity, reducing the likelihood of error and improving overall efficiencies across the workplace. In warehouses they are popular for printing barcode and shipping labels, and for field-service teams they enable on-the-spot receipt printing.

The challenge with these portable printers is that potential productivity gains aren’t easily compared between different mobile printers on the market. 

Even the same mobile printer used in a slightly different environment or in conjunction with different equipment can present vastly different levels of productivity gains.

insignia offers a wide range of mobile thermal label and receipt printers. Our leading global brands, including Zebra, Honeywell, Datamax-O’Neil and Bixolon, each provide a choice of models within their ranges for varied printing applications. So, if you are making the move to mobile printing how do you choose the best printer for your business?

What is your application?

The first issue to address is the application – labels or receipts. Some models only print receipts, while others are capable of printing both labels and receipts.

There are a range of accessories available to further make your mobile label printing process more efficient. Popular accessories include battery chargers, spare batteries, forklift mount kits, belt clips and hand/shoulder straps.

Different models offer different accessories, so think how your team will be using the portable printer.

What is the operational Environment? 

Robustness

Ruggedness is an extremely important quality, even for mobile printers used in retail or carpeted environments, because drops, spills and rough handling are routine. Failing to safeguard against these threats will result in lost productivity, the inability to complete necessary tasks and reduced service levels.

While the design of most models will offer some protection against falls, the higher-end models will be more robust offering greater protection, and some even guard against dust and water spray (IP54-rated).

Printer Size and Weight

Mobile printers are designed to be compact. If the printer is to be worn by a team member on a belt clip or shoulder strap it needs to be light-weight enough for the operator’s comfort.

Also, to keep the size to a minimum, mobile printers require media with fewer labels per roll than traditional desktop label printers, which means more frequent roll changes.

Media- Labels and Receipt Rolls

When printing labels, it is also important to consider the width of the label to be printed. Label size varies with each model of printer, some smaller models have the ability to print maximum width of 2 inches or 50mm, while others will print up to 4 inches or 102 mm. If you need to print logistics labels for major freight carriers such as Toll or StarTrack, or for Serial Shipping Container Code (SSCC) or the Australia Transport Label (ATL), the labels measure 4” wide x 6” long (102mm x 148mm).

For receipt printing, portable printers are available in 2”, 3”, 4” print-widths. Consider the required lifespan of the printed receipt, as inferior quality receipt paper can have a shorter lifespan.

Additionally, some low-grade receipt rolls can be more abrasive, causing excessive wear on the printhead, potentially shortening its life. insignia recommends OEM certified receipt paper.

How to connect to the mobile printer

Wireless Connectivity

Wireless infrastructure will be required for large warehouse-type spaces, and multiple wireless points will ensure minimal black spots or no-coverage areas. If mobile printing is required outdoors or in the field, you will need to consider a Bluetooth model that can connect to your 3G or 4G device.

ERP & WNS Software

Typically, specific mobile applications for Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) are available through your ERP or WMS provider. These mobile versions can be installed on to a mobile computer that would be used in conjunction with your mobile printer, allowing you to generate labels and or receipts as per your full ERP or WMS software.

Charging Options

The majority of mobile printers come with Lithium ion batteries which means they can be part charged without affecting the battery lifespan, similar to most new smart phones.

Generally mobile printers are designed to last throughout an 8-hour working day. However it is recommended that you have spare batteries or charging units available so batteries can be swapped out easily, and avoid the risk of downtime.

Dock chargers - allow the printer to be charged without removing the battery. These come in multi-bays to charge multiple units at a time, and are recommended as the printer storage point so they are continually charging when not in use.

Battery chargers – also available in bays. The battery is removed from the printer for charging and multiple batteries can be charged at once.

Spare battery - always useful to have as a backup for any mobile worker. Cigarette lighter chargers – most field mobility workers have one of these in their car/truck for easy charging.

Battery eliminators - provides a facility to run the printer continuously from a forklift or car battery (Note an auto electrician is generally required for installation).

insignia provides its customers with the complete printing package. We ensure your labels or receipts are fit-for-purpose, backed by expertise in thermal paper stock, adhesive, barcodes, production environments and supply chain requirements.

To download insignia's guide to: Buying a Mobile Thermal Label & Receipt Printer click here.