Rugged tablets: you can drop them, you can bury them in sand, you can go swimming with them, you can freeze them. Rugged tablets are some of the toughest and most versatile devices in the world; they’re built to cope with the world’s toughest environments and still work perfectly.
I’m sorry to tell you, but your tablet sitting on your coffee table is flimsy and wouldn’t stand a chance out in the real world. You can rarely use these devices outside, they are built for offices and sitting on the sofa browsing Facebook. For real work, you need a rugged tablet.
Let’s take a look at what situations a rugged tablet is essential for…
There are many hazardous environments where there is a high risk of an explosion. In these environments you need to completely eradicate the risk of fire. Standard laptops and tablets are always at risk of overheating and generating a spark. In most environments this doesn’t matter too much because it simply goes unnoticed, but in places where there are highly combustible elements it can be deadly.
So, what explosion-risk environments are we talking about here? Well of course there are the obvious ones such as oil rig or gas refinery, but we’re also talking about flour mills (yes, flour is highly flammable), sawmills or car paint spraying. If you brought along a computer which sparked and created an inferno in your workplace, I don’t think your workmates would be too pleased with you.
Even devices such as your iPads or high-end Dell tablets which you may consider to be completely safe can randomly spark. You need a device which is completely insulated from the outside environment so that if there was a defect and a spark was generated, it would remain internal only.
ATEX Devices work by completely sealing the whole unit from the air, meaning that if there are any combustible elements in the surrounding environment then an interior spark can’t ignite them.
It wouldn’t go down well if the fire brigade turned up 30 minutes late because their iPad had broken down and they couldn’t find their way to the emergency. The emergency services is definitely one area where their hardware simply cannot fail: people’s lives depend on it!
There have been several situations where fire services have implemented iPads in every truck, but they were quickly swapped for more rugged tablets when the iPads started failing at a rate of one every few days. The emergency services need to respond whatever the weather or time of day.
They need tablets that work well in everything from freezing temperatures to searing heat and from bright sunshine to pouring with rain in the middle of the night.
Military is often what most people think of when it comes to rugged tablets. The military use these devices in some of the most hostile conditions imaginable, and with soldiers’ lives dependant on their hardware working perfectly, rugged tablets are the only option.
Military spec rugged tablets must be able to work in the blistering heat of the midday desert sun and the freezing cold desert evenings. Whether it’s using rugged tablets as navigation systems to guide missiles or as communication devices, these devices need to work perfectly.
Computers in the health service are playing a more important role with ever more patient information being made digital for easier sharing and access. In recent years we’ve seen a dramatic rise in the number of MRSA cases; it’s critical that hospitals use the right equipment to tackle this risk of infection.
Key to this is being able to completely clean every surface and piece of equipment thoroughly. Unlike most consumer tablets, rugged tablets are easily wiped clean and can even be thoroughly washed to remove any bacteria or viruses. Plus, doctors can carry them around the hospital without fear of them breaking when dropped.
When most people think of field engineers, they think of just that – engineers in a field. The utilisation of rugged tablets is obvious for this group. But we’re also talking about highway patrol officers, air conditioning engineers and sewage engineers. Field engineers are critical to maintaining the UK’s infrastructure and ensuring the country runs smoothly; to do this they need tablets that will literally go anywhere.
Imagine a field engineer working on a sewerage and dropping their iPad whilst conducting a survey… actually probably better not to imagine it, but you get the point.
We’d also like to put motor racing engineers into this category. These engineers travel around the world and their tablets are used to conduct systems checks on the cars, present data to the driver and sometimes used to start the car. If the device stops working it can mean the difference between winning and losing.
Exploration in its very nature involves going to far-flung corners of the globe and uncovering new things where most wouldn’t dare venture. This means that the explorers encounter some incredibly hostile environments; whether it’s a humid rainforest, an arid desert or the freezing arctic.
These tablets cannot fail because these explorers can be hundreds or thousands of miles from civilisation and cannot simply pick up a new one. Additonally, these expeditions are often planned up to a year in advance and the kit is packed and shipped months before the expedition has begun. This means that these devices must be able to lay dormant for months at a time and then work perfectly – something that most consumer tablets are not very good at.
Most modern consumer tablets will stop working at around 0 degrees centigrade, but in many food warehouses across the country there are walk-in freezers which operate at -20 degrees or less.
Whilst these might not be the hostile conditions you see in the Arctic, companies such as Tescos and Sainsburys rely heavily on these rugged tablets to operate their stock and order management in extremely cold conditions.
Sometimes consumer tablets are sold as ‘rugged’, but these are nothing compared to the truly rugged tablets. These tablets are the true workhorses that enable people to continue to do their jobs even in the toughest environments. With features such as: screens that can work in direct sunlight, drop protection, water resistance and heat and cold protection; these devices are built to deal with any situation.
Despite rugged tablets costing more than consumer devices, their ability to cope with tough environments better means they often end up costing less overall because they don’t need to be replaced every time they get dropped in a puddle. Plus, for a lot of the environments and situations we’ve talked about, device failure is simply not an option.
There is an almost endless list of situations for which rugged tablets are simply the best option.
This was a guest post written by Camtech Systems, one of the UK’s leading suppliers in rugged mobile technology. Working with some of the world’s biggest brands they offer rugged laptops, tablets and hybrid computers with dedicated support.