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  •  Scanning pain for no gain, 2016

Scanning pain for no gain, 2016


There is a popular phrase that “there is no gain without pain” but it appears from our latest research that logistics and delivery businesses and workers are suffering all the pain for no gain as a result of poorly designed mobile barcode scanning devices.

With consumers demanding innovations such as same day delivery, business pressures are rising and the number of scans per day along with it. Managers and staff are reporting double-digit percentage growth in the number of scans required year-on-year but it seems that a number of key improvements in the design of the mobile barcode scanner could resolve many of the issues highlighted in this report.

From a reference group of 500 UK workers, it was found that an angled barcode scanner and better screen visibility on the device would improve productivity and minimise wrist and arm bend, improving stability and helping to reduce RSI. An improved high precision pen for more accurate electronic signature capture and scanning activation buttons on both sides of the device would also lead to a double digit improvement in productivity. 

We have taken on board all this advice and incorporated it into our Panasonic Toughbook rugged handheld tablets to ensure the latest generation of mobile scanners is fit for purpose. Managers equipping their workforce of logistics, delivery and warehouse staff with older generation technology may find this research enlightening reading.


Jan Kaempfer
General Manager for Marketing for Panasonic Computer Product Solutions

Stress Factors

Workers’ biggest stress factors were the slow and cumbersome scanning process using their device, the time it took to scan packages, hard to scan items, delivery times being reduced and the number of packages to be scanned in a day.

Research Executive Summary

Logistics and delivery workers say the pressures of work and poorly designed mobile barcode scanners are affecting productivity and health, according to latest research.

To compound the problem, workforces believed that scanning requirements were dramatically rising with the average worker saying they scanned 197 times a day with year-on-year growth estimated at 24%.

Device issues

60% of workers from the delivery, warehouse and logistics industry felt their mobile barcode scanning device was only fairly effective or not effective at all.

Failed electronic signature capture was also reported as a productivity drag, with workers seeing an electronic signature capture failure once every two days.
The top three suggestions to improve barcode scanning and signature capture were a high precision pen (49%), a device with an angled barcode scanner (36%) and better screen visibility in bright sunlight (22%).

Major health and productivity improvements from design changes

Workers unhappy with their mobile devices said that significant productivity improvements could be made with their recommended design changes. Workers said scanner activation buttons on both sides of the device could increase scanning numbers by 13%. An angled barcode scanner and pen would improve scanning productivity by 12%.

The painful price

63% reported they suffered from wrist or arm aches and pains with 69% forced to take time off for an average of two and three quarter sick days in the past year – costing their employer £310 per person. 

Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) also affected 52% of the workforce with 78% of those affected having to take an average of three sick days in the past 12 months – costing the employer £338 per person.

Workers were asked...

Have you suffered any of the following as a result of your job and if so, due to which elements of your job?