Updating FileMaker data with Zebra mobile devices

Posted on July 27, 2021 at 5:46 am

We were recently working on a project where we needed to verify order fulfillment and staging prior to pickup by the shipping carriers.

In most instances, we’d use FileMaker Go on an iPod Touch or iPad for mobile users, but this project required that we scan barcodes quickly for optimum performance.

As a proof of concept, we created a simple FileMaker Web Direct interface so that staff could scan boxes as they were packed, and before they were put onto a pallet. The Zebra TC20 is an Android 8.1 device that accesses Web Direct with it’s Chrome browser thru a wireless connection. The TC20 is ruggedized and features a built-in barode scanner which is perfect for use in a warehouse environment.

In the video below, you can see how this streamlined interface works. The user can choose from two scanning modes – one to verify packing and the other to mark which pallet the package is on awaiting pickup. We used just a single field for barcode scanning to reduce the overall complexity.

One option we considered was using FileMaker Go on an iPod Touch or iPad. We decided not to go this route for a variety of reasons:

  • Scanning barcodes is trickier with multiple appearing on the package. We wanted to reduce the chance of false-scans using the camera on the mobile device
  • External barcode scanners on iOS can be clunky to use. With the Zebra it’s one device to manage.
  • Using the the iPod Touch or iPad would require a ruggedized case
  • There’s greater chance of loss of device with an iPod Touch or iPad with seasonal staff
  • Using a iPod Touch sled like the Linea Pro adds considerable cost and requires the use of custom plugins along with the iOS App SDK.

Another alternative to using Web Direct is building a native web app that communicates with the FileMaker backend using the Data API to update order status.

Please contact our Sales Department for further information if you’d like help creating a mobile warehouse solution.

  1. #1 by HOnza Koudelka on July 27, 2021 - 10:28 pm

    Gonector (http://gonector.com) removes the pain of keyboard emulation and is easy to implement and use (https://24usw.com/imzbfh). It suppots scanners from.both Zebra and Infinite Peripherals. Xgode (http://xgode.com) makes building the native app with the iOS App SDK easy as well.

  2. #2 by andyknas on July 27, 2021 - 10:44 pm

    Hi Honza, these are great options too! I like the handheld over a USB scanner as you get the visual feedback right on the device (with the proper UI) vs having a barcode scanning on one hand and an iPod Touch or iPad in the other. That also makes for inefficiencies as you’re moving boxes – with the handheld you can move packages in one hand while scanning with the other. I have one of the Linea Pro sleds for testing but the cost of the sled + iPod Touch and the worry about hardware disappearing exceeded the cost of the the Zebra TC20.

  3. #3 by HOnza Koudelka on July 27, 2021 - 11:57 pm

    Sure every case is different. What you might find useful is that Gonector lets you also control the beeps, vibrations and LED lights on the Zebra scanners (varies by model), so you can provide some limited feedback to the user directly via the scanner.

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