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Why demand for rugged computing is on the rise

Why demand for rugged computing is on the rise

Mobile technology is clearly the future for business. IDC research shows that 79 per cent of businesses are buying and supporting notebooks for their employees. On top of that, 86 per cent are supplying their employees with smartphones, and 62 per cent are providing tablets.

Mobile technology is clearly the future for business. IDC research shows that 79 per cent of businesses are buying and supporting notebooks for their employees. On top of that, 86 per cent are supplying their employees with smartphones, and 62 per cent are providing tablets.

This becomes a surprisingly expensive proposition when you consider another set of statistics: The failure rate for notebooks is 18 per cent. By the end of the fifth year, a massive 61 per cent of these notebooks that are deployed in a professional setting are in need of repair.

Tablets and smartphones perform slightly better, with failure rates of 15.7 per cent and 13.9 per cent respectively, but even so, the technology churn is a significant cost on the organisation.  Once the technology leaves the offices environment and starts to be used in fieldwork, failure rates continue to rise.

So it should come as no surprise that an increasing number of organisations are turning to rugged technology, with a failure rate of just three per cent, as a solution to the escalating cost of end-point technology.

How rugged computers are being used in the field

One example of rugged technology being used in the field is Government-owned energy corporation, Ergon Energy, who wanted to replace existing paper-based processes with technology.  The nature of field work that Ergon Energy conducts meant that failure rates for consumer mobile devices would have been prohibitive.

Ergon also needed its devices to be able to be customised and fitted to field vehicles and withstand incredibly trying conditions, whilst still offering portability and a long battery life.

The organisation turned to Panasonic Toughpad FZ-G1 devices, and other third parties to make the necessary fittings for the vehicle use, and the impact of the rollout was instant. Following the deployment of 500 Toughpad FZ-G1 devices Ergon workers were saving as much as 45 minutes of their work time per day.

By using the 4G mobile connectivity available in the Toughpad, Ergon field staff are able to access documents from a library of paper modules that previously needed to be printed. Additionally, employees now have access to live data, emails, and other Internet-based functions that allow for instant decisions to be made that previously needed to be delayed.

Another example of a sector that is benefitting greatly from being able to take computing where it previously hasn’t been able to go is mining. Being able to gather data in real time from mines will help them run more efficiently and safely, but mines are also offering some of the harshest conditions and their often remote nature means that technology faults are exasperated.

The Australian mining sector is increasingly using mobile devices to capture and transmit field data and integrate people, processes and technology. Given the extreme and hazardous working environments of the sector, mobile devices are exposed to some of the toughest operational conditions. Panasonic 2-in-1 laptops, tablets and handhelds can help utility and mining companies enhance the productivity of their field based engineers, service providers and offshore workers.

According to a report on, mine operators are proving to be very keen adopters of technology solutions. “The next step in modernising the mining industry is, therefore, putting mobile computers into every vehicle in the mine, allowing them to acquire and relay data from anywhere, including quite literally the coal face.

“This clearly has implications on the design of the mobile computer; it needs to be designed to withstand the harshest environments, while still being truly mobile. But the benefits are clear.”

Where rugged computing is critical

It’s important to understand that a rugged device is not the same as a consumer device. For example; a consumer tablet, such as an iPad or Samsung Galaxy Note, does not meet the same rugged capabilities as a Panasonic Toughpad if you place them in a tough case. Consumer devices have components inside them that are not designed to withstand difficult conditions, and while a tough case might help a consumer device survive a drop, it’s still liable to break down from extreme atmospheric conditions, such as dust, moisture, heat and cold.

Data shows that while rugged solutions have a greater upfront cost, the TCO underpinning the technology purchase is far superior. The average length of time that a mobile worker loses when a device fails ranges from 50 to 80 minutes, and that productivity loss represents as much as 41 per cent of a mobile device’s TCO. This is in addition to the costs of repair, which for a notebook is an average of $3,537, and for a smartphone or tablet is $4,424. Given the significantly different failure rates of these devices, the ROI for a rugged device in the field is achieved, on average, within the first year.

While the image that “rugged computing” conjures is almost always its use outdoors, physically demanding environments such as mining, construction, or the military (and we’ve all seen and loved videos of trucks running over Toughbook only for them to survive) the reality is that rugged computing lowers the TCO of technology for a wide range of verticals.

Consider the failure rate for commercial notebooks and tablets in some other industries:

  • Retail (12% failure rate for laptops, 8% for tablets)
  • Logistics (13% failure rate for laptops, 12% for tablets)
  • Healthcare (12% failure rate for laptops, 10% for tablets)
  • Utilities (17% failure rate for laptops, 14% for tablets)
  • Emergency Services (19% failure rate for laptops, 15% for tablets)

In that context, it’s clear that most verticals benefit from an investment in rugged technology.

Why rugged is the solution

Businesses that need to get long-term value out of their technology purchases will almost universally benefit from an investment in rugged computing, both for notebooks and mobile devices. The perception that this technology is prohibitively expensive doesn’t take into account the ROI of being able to rely on this technology for far longer than the equivalent consumer technology solution.

For more information on the ROI and TCO of rugged technology solutions, contact Panasonic – Australia’s leader in rugged technology solutions – through their website

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Tags workforce planninglaptopLaptops & mobile devices

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