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How to ensure equipment will withstand harsh conditions

By Contributor
Wed 15 Sep 2021

Article by Getac business development manager Frank Baldrighi.


Industries characterised by harsh environmental conditions need equipment that will withstand dirt, dust, temperature changes, drops, shocks, vibrations, and more. Workers need gear they can rely on to work even in inclement weather and dirty conditions. 

Delicate, consumer-grade devices with rugged cases are rarely up to the task and can let workers and organisations down when it really counts. The best way to avoid this is to choose equipment specifically designed from the ground up to be used in harsh environments.

Rugged notebooks and tablets aren’t just regular devices with a strong rubber casing. Although these casings can mitigate the risk of damage to some extent, it’s really a bandaid approach that doesn’t deliver the performance attributes required for a strong return on investment. A device designed to be rugged from the inside out includes individually designed components to be used in challenging conditions.

When decision-makers consider technology investments such as notebooks and tablets, it’s essential to avoid consumer-grade devices and, instead, look for purpose-built devices for their industry. For example, in the oil and gas industry, it’s important to find solutions that have ATEX and IECEx Zone 2/20 certification. Devices that are ANSI/UL certified can be used in Class I, Division 2 hazardous locations.

Six key characteristics denote a truly rugged device versus a consumer device with a tough casing:

  1. The device is built from the chassis up using materials like magnesium alloy and impact-resistant polymer, and includes sealed buttons, port covers and doors that can be closed to seal the device and prevent water ingress.
     
  2. The device is water-resistant and can withstand drops, continuous vibration, and temperature extremes from -29 degrees to +63 degrees Celsius while still operating reliably.
     
  3. Independent testing certifies the device up to military-grade standards like MIL-STD-810H and IP67, as well as being certified for use in ATEX environments.
     
  4. High-capacity, hot-swappable batteries power the device for constant use across longer shifts.
     
  5. A highly responsive, easy-to-read touchscreen can be used while wearing gloves, using a stylus, or with wet hands.
     
  6. The device has been tested to breaking point in a wide variety of ways through a series of torture tests, ensuring the end product is ultimately reliable.

Alongside these features, decision-makers should look for devices that offer full wireless connectivity through 4G LTE and IEEE 802.11ac Wi-Fi.

Fully rugged devices should be able to stand up to rain, dust, shock, vibration, salt fog, and extreme temperatures. The manufacturer should stand behind the device with a full warranty that includes cover for accidental damage. It’s also advisable to choose a vendor that manufactures its own components and has strong relationships with third-party organisations such as Microsoft and others.

Purchasing fully rugged devices can deliver significant savings when it comes to total cost of ownership. This means organisations won’t have to replace broken computers and will be able to consistently maximise the value of their investment well into the future.

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