Data collection terminals are portable or handheld devices used to input, read, and/or log data. They often have barcode and wireless data transmission capability. Most data collection terminals can be carried by users, plugged into larger devices such as workstation consoles, or mounted to walls and inside of vehicles. A programmable data collection terminal usually includes a data collection software interface. Some data collection terminals are designed specifically for shop floor data collection in order to collect statistics and other metrics on the performance of work orders, machinery, personnel, and processes. These processes can be related to activities such as part fabrication, physical inventory management, machining, or automated product assembly.
Data collection terminals can be programmed to read standard linear symbols. Bar code data collection involves reading different types of barcode media. Numeric barcodes include UPC, EAN, and Interleaved 2 of 5. Alpha-numeric barcodes include Code 128 and Code 39, as well as national standard codes such as ISSN or ISBN. Data collection terminals are also used in electronic data collection (EDC) applications such as pin-pad devices, Web-based forms, and optical character recognition (OCR). Automated data collection is another emerging technology for inventory operations. Data collection technologies include voice recognition, laser scanners, radio frequency identification (RFID) tags, and swipe cards. Inventory operations also use wireless data collection technologies to mark, tag, and monitor the movement of stock.
Data collection terminals are used in many different applications and conform to a variety of regulatory requirements and quality standards. Application examples include engineering, manufacturing, inventory operations and warehousing, transportation, and enterprise resource planning (ERP). Data collection terminals are also used in automotive fabrication and repair operations in commercial garages and transportation authorities. Collecting statistical data about the activities of shop mechanics, equipment operators, and machining specialists can be used improve safety, efficiency, and profitability.