Rugged Mobile Computing for Utility Field Service Workers & Technicians — When an Outage Is Not an Option

Rugged mobile devices purpose-built for the utility industry need to provide data accuracy and security, better utility field service efficiency, and easy integration of expanding workflows.

Do utility workers have a use for rugged tablets or rugged laptops — we certainly feel they do. Utility workers do most of their work outdoors, which means mobile computing devices utility workers use must also work outdoors to no prevail.

Because utility field workers complete time-critical projects outside on foot, or in their utility vehicles, sometimes in extreme weather, utility workers need rugged mobile computing devices to get projects finished accurately and on time.

The Need for Rugged Mobile Computing for Utility Field Service Workers & Technicians

Think about the places utility workers must access in order to complete their work,  90-feet up a utility pole, way out on a remote pipeline, or sewer lines several feet underground.

Your mobile tablet, laptop, handheld, or other rugged device needs to withstand the dust, dirt, and environmental hazards that can contaminate your device, no matter how careful you protect it. Simply slapping on a rugged case for protection, just won’t cut it. And don’t forget the bumps and knocks that will inevitably come.

Utility workers need to prevent errors in data, delays in work order completion, and mistakes with customer satisfaction issues. Utility workers need rugged mobile computing solutions that speed up planned and unplanned utility fieldwork to maximize efficiency and productivity during the everyday job. You need rugged mobile computing to make sure the right technician gets sent to the right location, in the shortest time possible, with the proper resources to complete the job, the first time.

So what does this mean? Your rugged mobile computing device needs to provide data accuracy and security, better utility field service efficiency, and easy integration of expanding workflows.

Rugged Technology for Gas Utility Field Service

The ideal rugged mobile device for gas utility field workers should accomplish tasks associated with asset life-cycle management, customer service, infrastructure inspections, inventory management, maintenance and repair scheduling, safety audits and compliance reporting, and work orders.

Gas utility technicians cover broad geographic areas, much more so than electric or water utility technicians. Gas utility technicians manage urban, remote, and rural equipment that enable end-to-end generation and transmission of gas.

In addition, gas utility technicians spend a lot of time on their feet in extreme environments. They require rugged mobile computing that’s light enough to go where they go and rugged enough to withstand extreme environments.

Rugged Technology for Water Utility Field Service

The ideal rugged mobile device for water utility field workers should accomplish tasks associated with asset life-cycle management, customer service, GIS mapping, infrastructure inspections, inventory management, maintenance and repair scheduling, safety audits and compliance reporting, and work orders.

Despite having the oldest infrastructure of all utilities, water utilities have led the way in technology and in automation. Whether you need to stop water leaks, data losses, or asset downtime, you’ll need rugged mobile technology to manage workflow–and perhaps, water flow.

When response time is critical, not uncommon with water utility projects, you’ll need features like built-in GPS, to make finding what you need to find much easier. Your technology needs to manage and mobilize water utility work projects, getting people and equipment from the office or the vehicle to where they need to be.

Rugged Technology for Electric Utility Field Service

The ideal rugged mobile device for electric utility field workers should accomplish similar tasks as rugged technology for other utilities, in addition to electric utility specific tasks such as utility meter analysis, installation, and documentation.

With the right technology, electric utility field service technicians and plant managers identify and resolve outages, complete inspections, and repair damaged and aging infrastructure without even returning to the office.

You’ll be able to deliver information immediately to electric utility dispatch, infrastructure assessment teams, and repair crews. This leads to more efficient and coordinated field efforts and faster incident response times, ultimately leading to lower costs associated with work order recalls and power outage recovery.

In short, with the right rugged mobile technology, everyone wins.

Solving Your Rugged Mobile Technology Needs

The mobile solutions experts at Group Mobile can help you devise a solution to fit your exact utility requirements.

 

Getac MX50 Wearable Military Tablet Review — Battle Ready!

The MX50 tactical tablet delivers defense personnel high processing speeds and low power consumption to quickly view, manipulate and receive or send data, access battlefield applications, disseminate blue and red forces tracking, fire control orders, and mission command information.

The new Getac MX50 wearable tablet is the first rugged tactical tablet carefully crafted to meet strict government guidelines for combat ready military forces including dismounted warfighters, elite enforcement agencies, and Special Forces military units. Getac designed the MX50 wearable tablet based on feedback from Special Forces and tactical operators in need of a small and lightweight, battle-ready tablet solution built to exact tactical specifications to eliminate the currently deployed consumer-grade technology lacking rugged design and system security.

The Getac MX50 runs Android 5.1 Lollipop operating system, making it easy to build a custom application or use one of the top operating utilities available on the market. The Getac MX50 tablet is powered by an Intel® Atom™ x5 Processor with a base frequency of 1.44GHz and burst speed up to 1.92GHz for optimal energy efficiency. It has a quad-core chip as well as Intel® HD graphics, so it can perform well, even with the most challenging graphic applications. The MX50 offers 2GB of RAM and 64GB or 128GB of eMMC storage, that can be complemented via microSD card. It has a 15.5 watt-hour pack. If more battery power is needed, Getac offers an optional SnapBack Battery. MX50-Rugged-Ratings

The Getac MX50 is designed to integrate with the other elements of the soldier system, including tactical hubs and power management systems like the Black Diamond Advanced Technology APEx — if the MX50 is needed to operate independently for extended periods then the SnapBack battery can be attached to increase operating time.

The MX50 tactical tablet delivers defense personnel high processing speeds and low power consumption to quickly view, manipulate and receive or send data, access battlefield applications, disseminate blue and red forces tracking, fire control orders, and mission command information.

Key Features on the Getac MX50 tactical tablet include:

  • SoC Intel Atom Z8340 Quad Core Processor
  • Android 5.1 Lollipop operating system
  • Capacitive 5-Point Multi-Touch Screen with Rain, Stylus and Glove-Touch Modes
  • 2GB of RAM and 64GB or 128GB of eMMC storage
  • Front Camera: 2MP Fixed Focus; Rear Camera: 8MP Autofocus
  • Dedicated GPS With Built-in Antenna (GPS+GLNSS)
  • Front Camera: 2 MP Fixed Focus; Rear Camera: 8 MP Autofocus
  • GlenAir 6 Pin (Plug with Pins) With Cable, or AB or ODU 20-Pin Connector (Plug With Pins), MicroSD slot, MicroUSB OTG, 3.5 mm Earphone Jack
  • IP67 (1 m Waterproof)/MIL-STD 810G (5’ Drops)/MIL-STD 461G Compliant/Operating Temperature Range of -5.8° F to 140° F

MX50-MOLLEThe Getac MX50 rugged tactical tablet meets strict government guidelines for capturing and protecting classified data in the field. The MX50 meets the Common Criteria ISO/IEC 15408 computer security certification, and the NSA’s Commercial Solutions for Classified (CSfC) guidelines (certification pending) and Data-at-Rest (DAR) requirements, enabling commercial devices to be integrated into layered solutions to protect classified national security systems information.

To learn more, contact one of Group Mobile’s rugged technology experts.

 

 

 

Discover the Benefits of Sunlight-Readable Displays for Outdoor Mobile Computing Applications

Learn more about devices that come with sunlight readable displays so that you can use your device in any conditions.

When you’re using your laptop, tablet, or handheld on the go, you want to be able to see everything on the screen clearly. Unfortunately, most displays end up with a glare when you’re out in the sun — a place where many people, from paramedics and law enforcement professionals to construction workers, field service and utility workers, or forestry professionals, find themselves spending a great deal of time. Sunlight readable displays are designed to be just as visible in sunlight as they are in a shadowed space like your car or office, making them ideal for individuals whose job responsibilities take them outdoors on a regular basis.

Work Where You Are

In some cases, you might have the luxury of getting under shade before you use your device, making it easier to see the vital information on the screen. With sunlight readable displays, you can use your device wherever you are whether it’s a cloudy day or the sun is pounding down on you. This is particularly useful for construction workers, first responders, and military professionals who often don’t have the luxury of finding shade just for the convenience of being able to read a screen. If you can work out in full sunlight, your device ought to be able to, as well — and your rugged device, equipped with a sunlight readable display, makes that easier than ever.

Don’t Miss Vital Information

When you’re squinting down at a screen that has gone dim and hard to read in the sunlight, you might find yourself accidentally missing critical information. From notes on patient care to information about a meeting that’s going to have to be rescheduled, you don’t want to find out later that you missed out on critical information just because you weren’t able to see a specific part of the screen thanks to excessive light conditions. The difference between being able to see everything on your screen might not matter if you’re only glancing down for a quick read on irrelevant information, but it matters a lot when it’s a critical note in small print! Sunlight readable screens make it easier to see every piece of information on the screen, which means you won’t make a mistake because you missed that important piece of information.

Avoid Tunnel Vision

When you’re staring down at a screen that is only partially readable because of bright sunlight, you may find yourself with tunnel vision: completely focused on the display in front of you as you try to pick out the details of the text or focus on the complexities of data entry. In many situations, however, that can be dangerous: a law enforcement professional out on the street, a construction worker on a job site where anything can happen, or any other outdoor worker who needs to be aware of their surroundings. Sunlight readable screens help you avoid tunnel vision by making it easier to glance at the screen, then return to the task at hand without losing sight of what’s going on around you.

Rugged laptops, tablets and handhelds are the perfect candidates for sunlight readable displays. In some cases, like the optically-bonded sunlight readable display option, creating displays that are functional in sunlight actually adds to the ruggedness of the device, making those screens tougher and more resistant to the hazards around you. Protective coatings and other technological advances can add to the readability of your device, so make sure you understand all the options available and have chosen the one that will work best for you! When you need a device that’s able to go wherever you can, contact us to learn more about devices that come with sunlight readable displays so that you can use your device in any conditions.

Group Mobile Features Four New Industrial Rugged Tablets from DT Research

DT Research designs rapid time-to-market solutions at affordable prices which make them well received among budget-conscious tablet consumers.

Four new industrial tablets from DT Research have been added to the vast product portfolio at Group Mobile. DT Research is a leading designer and manufacturer of purpose-built computing solutions for numerous vertical markets including military, law enforcement, education, healthcare, retail and logistics, utilities and telecommunications, construction, manufacturing and enterprise. DT Research leverages two decades of rugged computer design and manufacturing experience, their rapid time-to-market solutions and affordable prices are well received among budget-conscious tablet consumers.

Group Mobile’s mobile technology advisers have first-hand knowledge of specific vertical market applications where they work one-on-one with clients to enable these specific custom solutions to meet exact requirements for improved productivity, lowered TCO and return on investment.

The four new DT Research rugged tablets now offered at Group Mobile include:

  • DT Research DT313 features the integration of a vibrant 13.3-inch capacitive touchscreen display, weighing in at under two pounds for a slim, durable, and highly-portable design. The DT313 rugged tablet offers seamless information capture for instant transmission on the sales room floor, classroom, and in the field — with built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connection, as well as options for RFID reader, and front and back camera modules. For healthcare professionals, the DT313-MD model is available to configure — used as effective tools to monitor, record, and retrieve patient information. The DT313-MD is highly durable and made from easily sanitized, anti-microbial materials.
  • DT Research DT395CR features an 8.9-inch Full-HD screen with capacitive touch, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth connection, as well as options for camera, barcode scanner, RFID reader, NFC module, and I/O ports. The DT Research DT395CR is available with the Microsoft Windows 10 IoT Enterprise operating system, and includes an Intel Atom Quad Core 1.44GHz processor, 4GB RAM, and a 64GB SSD with an option to upgrade to a 128GB SSD for extra storage. The DT395CR is rated IP65 and MIL-STD-810G to provide reliable operation in harsh, mission-critical environments. For those in search of a rugged tablet without a huge price point, the DT395 rugged tablet will offer custom features and complete protection from inevitable drops and spills at an excellent price.
  • DT Research DT311 is a rugged two-in-one device purpose-built to protect utility, and energy companies, government and military agencies, first responders, and other field service organizations with removable encrypted data and camera security to guard against data loss or theft and unwanted image transmission. DT311 rugged tablet line includes a 6thgeneration Skylake CPU for high performance, increased screen brightness to 800 NITS for superior sunlight viewability, and a fanless design for increased durability. The DT311 includes an encrypted SD card slot that leverages software encryption from Windows 10 IoT Enterprise, and TPM 2.0 to secure data. Users can remove sensitive data in an encrypted format to avoid theft and loss of data if the tablet is misplaced or stolen. The DT311 hardware security options also include instant blackout, as well as automatic Bluetooth, RFID, and Wi-Fi disable functions that can be pre-configured to turn off all radio capabilities under certain conditions.
  • DT Research DT301 is a two-in-one hybrid 10.1-inch tablet sporting a modern, sleek, and attractive design. The DT301S is built on the high performance, energy efficient Intel Core Celeron processor with optional upgrades to an Intel Core i5 or i7 processor. The DT301 is a true mobile solution with the ability to be used as a tablet or interchanged to a laptop for easy keyboard data input. Weighing under three pounds, the DT301 includes a full-slot Smart Card reader, hot swappable battery, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.0. The DT301 has a truly practical keyboard for easy data entry in the field, and all pertaining accessories are interchangeable with DT Research’s line of two-in-one devices.To learn more on DT Research tablets and how Group Mobile can assist you in implementing an affordable mobile solution, contact one of our mobile technology experts.https://youtu.be/KxzaGKG1GXc

Discover How Rugged Computers Will Add Resiliency and Mobility To The Manufacturing Floor Plant

Manufacturing plants can be dangerous and hazardous environments which require rugged computers to be durable and reliable for maximum productivity.

 

Rugged industrial computers are streamlining the data process in manufacturing plants across the world. Whether your work takes place in an indoor factory handling assembly, repair or maintenance operation, or an outdoor site, your mobile computing needs go beyond what a consumer device can provide. Manufacturing floors require resiliency, mobility, and the ruggedness to withstand the demands of a manufacturing environment.

Consumer, off-the-shelf laptops and tablets cannot handle the environmental hazards of a manufacturing workplace or the vibrations generated by manufacturing equipment —forklifts, heavy machinery, power tools to name a few. In addition, a manufacturing environment isn’t always the most convenient location for the IT department, so in order to reduce downtime, your rugged tablet or laptop needs to be reliable.

Why a Rugged Computer for Manufacturing?

In a manufacturing environment, being careful with the equipment just isn’t adequate. Exposure to dusty air, extreme temperature fluctuations, powerful vibrations, chemicals, drops, and the many other things that afflict the average computer in a manufacturing job site plague even the most careful equipment handlers.

Certain hazards are simply unavoidable, however, avoiding hazards is only part of the solution to providing durable computers in a rugged environment. You also need your computers to have constant access to real-time data and the capacity to integrate with applications and networks, so you can identify and communicate with automated manufacturing stations within the manufacturing network.

True Serial ports, USB connectors, RFID readers, and bar code scanners need to function seamlessly with rugged computing devices so you can manage parts installation and inspection, collect data for compliance reporting, track inventory and assets, and mobilize workflow.

Rugged Mobile Computing for the Aerospace and Aviation Industry

All manufacturing facilities carry a certain amount of pressure. Companies who manufacture defective merchandise soon go out of business and often find themselves in court fending off lawsuits.

Lack of manufacturing precision in the aerospace and aviation industry produces disastrous results. Aviation and aerospace manufacturers deliver the most sophisticated and automated aircraft ever. Those life or death designs and calculations often depend on the dependability of your mobile computing devices. In short, you don’t manufacture advanced airplanes and components without using the most advanced equipment.

With the right rugged device you can increase efficiency and cost-effectiveness with highly flexible mobile workflows powered by technology. From initial testing to takeoff, manufacturers of all sizes involve themselves with design implementation, maintenance and repair, frame inspections, electrical systems testing, communications testing, safety compliance, and a myriad of other operations. Having the right people on the right device to manage and coordinate workflow is absolutely necessary.

Rugged Mobile Computing for Auto Manufacturers

Consumers demand more reliability and safety with their automobiles. Other than driver competence, nothing contributes more to the safety of automobiles than automobile manufacturers. Manufacturers, therefore, require technology that helps provide the reliability consumers demand.

In addition, automobile manufacturers must provide fuel-efficient, technologically advanced vehicles in order to compete. Regardless of your role in the automotive manufacturing and supply chain, you’re under a lot of pressure.

Plant production managers, assembly line operators, and auto manufacturing inspectors require and demand unlimited access to data at all hours. They require data from electronic user manuals, work orders, repair tickets, and shipping labels. Paperless rugged mobile computing devices and networks are the best way to deliver real-time data, schedule parts delivery, and track quality. Plus, if the rugged tablet gets run over by a car — it will keep on working.

Rugged Computing Benefits

Regardless of what you manufacture, maintain, or repair, the right rugged computing devices provide numerous benefits. These benefits include the following:

  • Durability and Dependability
  • Streamlined Manufacturing Floor Processes
  • Paperless Factories
  • Accelerated Delivery of Information
  • Refined Maintenance Planning
  • Improved Workforce Scheduling
  • Improved Incident Management
  • Greater Access to User Manuals
  • Longer Battery Life
  • Better Documentation
  • Greater Mobility
  • Quicker Documentation

When it comes to mobile computing in manufacturing, you need devices as rugged as the people who make a living doing rugged things.

The mobile solutions experts at Group Mobile can help you devise a solution to fit your exact manufacturing plant requirements.

A Comprehensive Review and Specifications on the New Enterprise- Friendly Panasonic Toughpad FZ-A2 Rugged Tablet!

The Toughpad FZ-A2 is the ideal rugged tablet solution for field workers, warehouse and distribution, retail, and home healthcare workers required to meet HIPAA standards for enhanced data and privacy protection.

Enterprises have shown immense interest in rugged tablet technology — we know there is a huge reason for this. This correlation directly points to the ease of use that comes with a large touchscreen display and the now ubiquitous wireless networks that allow tablet users to seamlessly communicate and exchange information both locally and across the Web.

As enterprises seek to become more productive, evaluating the ideal mobile computing solution can be a time consuming process. Concerns among enterprise workers using mobile computers consist of a variety of issues but the most common are: lack of operating system and application controls and limited tools for software upgrades, short battery life and the lack of removable batteries – meaning that if the battery fails, the whole device must be repaired or replaced. Enterprises that seek to increase productivity, boost employee moral and invest in a mobile computing solution for their workforce need to consider rugged tablets for their mission-critical business applications.

Keep reading below for a comprehensive review on the enterprise-ready Toughpad FZ-A2 fully rugged Android tablet, a mobile computing solution that will provide ROI, increased productivity and help meet an organizations strategic revenue objectives.

Panasonic Toughpad FZ-A2

The new Panasonic Toughpad FZ-A2 is an enterprise-friendly rugged tablet providing superior features and reliability miles ahead of consumer tablets. The Toughpad FZ-A2 comes with the Android 6.0 Marshmallow operating system and Android for Work’s enterprise security built-in. The Toughpad FZ-A2 is the ideal rugged tablet solution for field workers, warehouse and distribution, retail, and home healthcare workers required to meet HIPAA standards for enhanced data and privacy protection.

The Toughpad FZ-A2 fully rugged tablet is purpose-built with a 10.1-inch, 800nit, 10-point capacitive touchscreen display, the Toughpad FZ-A2’s bright imagery will suit anything from indoor warehouse or hospital use, to mobile workers required to work in direct sunlight. The fully rugged Toughpad FZ-A2 is powered by an Intel x5-Z8550 processor running at 1.44GHz for fast and superior performance. Weighing in just under two pounds, the Toughpad FZ-A2 rugged tablet is light weight for easy portability in the field making it an ideal mobile solution for workers in demanding environments.

Select one of three custom integrated configurations each equipped with optional features, including an integrated barcode reader for retail kiosk or warehouse and distribution applications, a Smart Card Reader for enhanced security, and an additional USB port for increased peripheral device connections. The Toughpad FZ-A2 promises a long battery life of up to 9 hours with a hot-swappable battery option for long days in the field.

The optional forklift or vehicle mount and desktop cradle accessories, combined with the tablet’s thin, portable ability, provide the flexibility for mobile workers to use the tablet as a handheld or mount the device for delivery and route driving. The Toughpad FZ-A2 rugged tablet provides greater expandability with Panasonic’s industry leading reliable connectivity for mobile workers who need dependable and quick access to data or the ability to process documents in the field.

Learn more about the Panasonic Toughpad FZ-A2…

The Benefits of Solid State Technology in Mobile Computing

Rugged mobile computers can be customized to meet a users exact workflow, including options for solid state drive storage.

A solid state drive differs from a conventional hard drive in that it has no moving parts whatsoever. The fact that everything is done electronically means that data access is significantly faster than with a standard mechanical hard drive. Rugged mobile computers can be customized to meet a users exact workflow, including options for solid state drive storage.

The easiest way to visualize a solid state drive is as a big thumb-stick drive with much more storage space, though these drives do not use the same storage technology that the thumb drives do. Solid state drives are more durable and able to handle having data repeatedly written to them all thanks to a unique system of cells that data is continually rotated between. Exactly why they are commonly found in rugged tablets and laptop computers. Only in the last few years or so have these wholly electronic drives become able to hold enough data and to be produced inexpensively enough to compete with a mechanical hard drive. A solid state hard drive is actually like a number of smaller flash drives chained together to operate as a cohesive whole and provide a much more significant amount of data storage that is comparable to what mechanical drives can offer.

Extremely Fast Speed

As touched on at the outset, speed is the major advantage of the solid state drive. While the mechanical platters that have to spin up and be read by an arm on modern hard drives are very fast in current computers, they can still never hope to compete with a system that is made of nothing but electronics. You’ll notice that operating systems open up almost instantly from a cold boot on a solid state drive, usually taking no more than five seconds or so. Compare that to the full minute or so it can take for a mechanical hard drive to not only get the operating system up and running, but to get completely up to full speed for running more memory-intensive applications.

Ultra-light And Portable

Solid state drives were actually first conceived specifically for the ultra-light portable netbook computer market in the mid-2000’s. Naturally, the lack of mechanical parts and the larger protective housing that the standard hard drive has both reduces weight and allows the systems they are in to have a slimmer profile. Mechanical hard drives have a hard limit of space reduction to about two inches or so; beyond that it’s not feasible to include enough memory to keep up with other offerings on the market. SSDs are already smaller than this at a much higher capacity, and since they are entirely based on microchips the sky is the limit for reducing them in size even more in the future.

Data Reliability And Durability

A classic problem with mechanical hard drives is fragmentation. Since data is constantly being physically written to them, new data can end up in scattered “fragments” around large chunks of old data, reducing performance as the drive has to work harder to read all of it. SSDs don’t face this limitation; the data is entirely virtual and stored on chips, so writing and deleting data will not cause any performance reduction over time (and you’ll never need to let the computer idle for an hour running a “defrag” program again either).

Data loss is more of a mixed bag, but SSDs still have an advantage here provided you are performing regular backups. Early testing seems to indicate that SSDs have a higher rate of data loss than mechanical hard drives, due to individual chips going bad and creating “bad blocks” of memory. The upside is the chance of catastrophic failure (the entire drive dying) is greatly reduced. So, you have a little more chance of losing random individual pockets of data with an SSD, but less of a chance of the entire system going down.

Finally, the area most germane to rugged computers — durability. Since they don’t have any mechanical parts, SSDs are inherently less prone to damage from drops. This is particularly true of drops while the computer is in use, as the read/write heads on conventional hard drives are are especially vulnerable while they are in motion.

All-in-all, SSDs simply make more sense for a ruggedized computer in most circumstances. The only issue with them is a higher cost per amount of storage space than a mechanical hard drive, but this cost imbalance will likely improve over time along with technology. If you have any questions about solid state drives and how to configure your rugged tablet or laptop to your exact requirements, contact us.