Is there a place for ruggedised gear in your business?

Most users get by with a standard business-grade notebook. But those devices won't cut it in the field. Barwon Water decided on a ruggedised solution when their old slates were at end-of-life.

One of the realities of business life is that the notebooks given to staff need to be functional In most cases, the laptops our IT departments choose fit the bill easily. But there are specific use-cases where a regular portable computer won't be fit for purpose. Some environments require a far more robust class of hardware.

The US military recognised this and defined a set of standards that equipment used in the field need to comply with. These standards cover everything from operation under varying air pressure, ballistic shock, resistance to liquid and dust contamination - even whether fungus would grow on a device. This set of standards is designated as MIL-STD 810G.

Alongside the MIL-STD 810G standard which covers the physical characteristics of equipment, the US mimicry has also designated MIL-STD 461E for electromagnetic interference. This covers the entire device for susceptibility and emissions from the device and its power supply

For a CIO considering the value of a ruggedised solution, it's worth noting that this sort of equipment does cost more than an equivalently designed - from a performance point of view - notebook computer. This cost equation can be considered a couple of different ways. For example, if a ruggedised device costs twice as much as a regular one, perhaps I can budget to purchase portable gear at twice the frequency. This will cost the same in the long run but alleviate the need to spend larger blocks of money

However, the decision to purchase ruggedised equipment isn't purely financial and functional - the real value comes from a risk mitigation point of view. The question a CIO needs to ask is "what's the cost and impact of equipment failure in the field?". As the consequences of such risks increase, the case for ruggedised hardware improves

Barwon Water previously equipped employees with tablet devices that had reached the end of their serviceable life and was looking to invest in a more reliable rugged mobile computing solution for its highly mobile workforce.

Although they're not operating in military situations, Barwon Water's field staff needed devices that could handle knocks, exposure to moisture and use in bright sunlight. Darren Davis, National Sales Manager of AMIT, the company worked extensively with Barwon Water to ensure it was delivered a complete solution to satisfy its need for reliable, versatile and high-performance devices.

Barwon Region Water Corporation chose 45 Panasonic Toughbook CF-19M fully rugged devices across their maintenance vehicles. The Toughbooks are mounted in the vehicles to receive job information and GIS mapping information in real-time out in the field. AMIT also installed ADR (Australian Design Rule) compliant mounting solutions on Barwon Water’s fleet of light trucks and utility vehicles.

Brad Richards, Barwon Water Manager - Field Services, says that “Our maintenance employees are field based and need a reliable and feature packed unit that can handle a few knocks and bumps that are inevitable when you’re in that environment, but one that also delivers outstanding desktop performance - so the Panasonic Toughbook CF-19 was a perfect fit for us”.

The CF-19Mk3 has up to nine hours battery life, an ultra-bright 1,000 nit screen and a circular polarising touch screen with anti-reflection coating making it easier to read under direct sunlight. It is fully compliant with MIL-STD 810G.

“As all of our work is outdoors, the anti-reflection touchscreen is particularly useful and makes it much easier to get things done, and of course the ruggedness of the unit is a key consideration for us. The embedded 3G WWAN and GPS functionality also help to make working in the field much more efficient for our employees” Richards added.

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