BizSpeed is a mobile ISV, and clients often ask us for recommendations on mobile devices. If a client is looking at Motorola mobile devices, we get asked to help them choose between MC55, MC75, and MC9090 devices. We have customers using all 3 models of these devices.
This article will help explain what you should consider when choosing and highlight real-life customer examples for field data capture and proof of delivery applications.
Motorola MC55 vs. Motorola MC75 vs. Motorola MC9090
Before we start with criteria, it is important to understand what features you need today and in the future. With rugged devices, once you purchase the device, you cannot go back and add hardware options like a camera, GPS or Bluetooth. The devices we will discuss are:
- MC9090 (MC909x) is the largest and most rugged of the 3 models. They are supported by all carriers (Verizon, Sprint, AT&T, and T-Mobile) and have the broadest range of hardware options. These are the most expensive devices.
- MC75 – these are mid-sized devices that Motorola targets for proof of delivery, field data capture, and barcode solutions.
- MC55 – this is the family’s newest member and has a slightly lower level of rugged design and size than MC75’s. It is the least expensive.
Questions and Criteria
We start to narrow the hardware choice by asking the following questions.
Do you need cellular data? If so, what cellular carrier do you use, and do you know what the data coverage is like in your territories?
- The reason for this is simple – some territories, like the North East, are completely owned by a carrier (Verizon). If someone wants T-Mobile or AT&T coverage, they must check or consider changing carriers.
- The MC55 is not currently supported on Verizon, so the choice is between an MC75 and MC9000. All devices support GSM networks (e.g., T-Mobile and AT&T).
If you need cellular, will you do anything requiring 3G/3.5G or faster networking?
- Most customers don’t know the answer to this, but the question becomes more clear if they are:
- Taking pictures with the device – picture size can be adjusted on the mobile device, but a reasonable quality color picture would be approximately 1 MB or larger.
- Downloading large files, such as site plans, MSDS sheets, or merchandising plan-o-grams for proof of delivery apps.
- The more pictures and files, the more you lean towards a 3G device like the MC75. Occasional picture takers could get by with a 2.5G connection on an MC55.
Do you need to take pictures? If so, do they need to be high quality and color, or can they be black and white?
- This might seem like an odd question, but someone who delivers furniture or cabinets with a mobile device would want a higher-quality color camera to take pictures that capture the details of a scratch. Our customers doing utility meter installations need to take pictures of the existing and new meters to show the meter reading. These can be black and white and, therefore, can be done with the 2D imager (scanner) versus a separate camera. Smaller black and white photos are good quality on the 2D imager and are usually about 30kb in size. The 2D imager is NOT an autofocus camera, though. You would need a separate camera if you need to take longer-range pictures, such as utility pole inspections.
- Using the 2D imager is okay; however, if you need pictures, we recommend getting a device with the scanner AND camera versus using the scanner for pictures. It keeps your options open, and once you purchase a mobile device, you cannot change the configuration. BizSpeed has modules for both Motorola and Intermec SDKs to use their scanners for pictures. Again, the 2D imager is okay for close-up pictures but not for higher quality or long-range.
- If you need pictures, you would need to look at the MC55 or MC75, as they can have a barcode scanner AND camera. The MC70 and MC9000x models do not have this option.
Do you need GPS?
- GPS is typically used to:
- Mark where delivery was made for Proof of Delivery. This can be done behind the scenes and is important when delivering to larger retailers like Home Depot, Wal-Mart, or Lowes. Large retailers will be geocoded at the street address; however, deliveries are usually made at the back of the store, which can be many hundred yards away. If you want to know when a driver breaks a geofence and arrives at the delivery point, you would want to track that from the handheld. Another example is deliveries to new subdivisions – these are not yet on the map, and navigating by GPS is easier for subsequent trips.
- For GPS tracking and navigation. Many customers use truck-mounted GPS systems, but these frequently don’t provide graphical navigation systems. BizSpeed has multiple tracking and navigation options so delivery drivers can have their list of orders on the handheld and can tap the order to get on-screen navigation.
- You may need to capture GPS coordinates for meter installations or other field device installations, such as oil field equipment. If you need sub-meter accuracy, you must get an external GPS unit or do the post-processing.
- We recommend getting GPS on devices even if you don’t need it now. We have one customer with 250 devices without GPS. They picked up a new line of business that requires them to dispatch the closest driver – which now requires them to add GPS via external hardware, which is a more expensive and involved solution.
- Both the MC55 and MC75 have GPS as an option. MC9000 devices generally don’t have GPS available except through external adapters or Bluetooth.
Do you need serial port connections on the device or vehicle mount?
- The MC55 is targeted at more basic route accounting users. The vehicle cradle does not have a serial port built in. This applies to serial cable connection to vehicle GPS, JBus (vehicle diagnostics), fuel delivery meters, or external communication devices.
- The MC75 and MC9000 vehicle cradles have a built-in serial port. Their cradle is more expensive than the MC55 cradle by approximately $100+.
Do you need barcode scanning?
- All of these devices have barcode scanning. The only decision is whether you need 1D/2D or long-range.
- 2D scanners can be helpful if you have barcodes that may get dirty or damaged. Examples include plant nurseries where 2D barcodes may be easier to read due to dirt on the barcode.
- Long-range scanners can scan barcodes up to 40’ away. Long-range scanners are only available on the MC909x platform. Examples of long-range scanning include scanning the barcode at the top of a warehouse rack from a forklift.
Do you need RFID?
- If you need RFID, your only option is an MC9090. Note that RFID-enabled devices are significantly more expensive.
Do you have any specific ruggedness requirements? Will you be dealing with harsh environments?
- The MC9000 is the most rugged device. It has the best drop spec (6’ to concrete) and the best IP (intrusion protection) rating.
- The MC75 is also rugged and designed for field delivery applications (5’ to concrete).
- The MC55 is close to, but not as rugged as, the MC75. It is designed for the field but not for super harsh environments.
- Examples of harsher environments would be where you work outside in the rain or dirt – such as oil field services, agriculture, or bulk product delivery such as fuel, lubes, chemicals, or fertilizer to tanks outside.
What size keypad do you need? What type of input will the keypad be used for? Do you need a pistol grip?
- The MC55 and MC75 both have similar-sized keypads. They are larger than a BlackBerry, but the size of the device shell is fixed.
- The MC9000 comes in a short version (MC9090S), a long version (MC9090K), and a gun/pistol grip (MC9090G). The keypads on MC9000s are larger than the MC75 or MC55. If drivers use gloves (such as fuel delivery), then it would be worth comparing the MC9000 to the MC75.
- If you perform a lot of scanning, you should consider a pistol grip, which is only available on the MC9000.
So which device is right for you?
The following highlights examples of BizSpeed customers using each type of device.
MC9090 – Bulk bleach manufacturer with 8 plants in 5 states. This customer receives bleach in rail cars and distributes it to pool supply companies, municipal water treatment facilities, paper manufacturers, etc. The bleach is loaded at the plant, and the driver starts their day by scanning the truck (tractor) barcode, trailer barcode, and product barcode. They weigh the truck on an industrial truck scale, and goRoam wirelessly receives the truck weight to calculate the volume of product on the truck. The driver makes deliveries to a set of customers and scans the delivery ticket, product, etc., and records product quantities in each tank. The customer signs the device for proof of delivery and prints a receipt on mobile Zebra RW420 printers. When drivers return to the plant, the driver scans and weighs again to calculate the remaining volume. Once at the plant, deliveries are sent wirelessly to the goRoam server for processing and export for invoicing.
- This customer selected MC9000s because they needed the most rugged device, a large numeric keypad, and a larger battery to power the wifi since they use wifi for roaming throughout the plant to load products because they wanted a larger device. Hence, it was easier for the driver to keep track of it.
MC75 – HazMat pickup and disposal for large retailers, oil change shops, car dealers, etc., across 30 states. These drivers receive routes/stops through cellular communications while on the road. The drivers go to each stop and pick up one or many HazMat containers. They place a barcode on the container (by hazmat product type) and record the contents of each container. This can involve a reasonable amount of data capture through the touch-screen on the handheld device as they have to complete different mobile forms depending on the pickup. Once complete, the customer signs for electronic signature capture/proof of pickup.
- This customer selected the MC75 because they wanted a mid-sized device that would be easy for the driver to carry but would be rugged enough to be around hazardous materials and heavier equipment that might bang around or have the device dropped. They needed 3G network speeds to facilitate image capture. GPS is done on the vehicle but can also be captured on the handheld. When they selected the MC75, the MC55 was unavailable; however, they still would have only considered the MC75 or the MC9000.
MC55 – Door-to-door surveys and canvassing on a large scale. These customers use goRoam.Inspections to automate field data surveys that may contain 300-750 questions, although not all must be answered. When a homeowner or business needs a survey completed, the field personnel scan a barcode and take 1 or more high-quality pictures per site. They also have to take a GPS reading and possibly make a drawing on the device to show the site. Once complete, the homeowner signs the device for proof of delivery/electronic signature capture, and a receipt is automatically emailed.
- This customer evaluated the MC55 and MC75 but selected the MC55 because it was less expensive. They determined they did not need the ruggedness of the MC75 or the 3G network speed since the pictures would queue and sync in the background with goRoam. They wanted the smallest/lightest device since field personnel would carry it all day.
If you have questions or comments, please contact us regarding the rugged mobile hardware selection. To learn more about BizSpeed and goRoam Proof of Delivery Software, call 866-270-0541 (toll-free).