As cellular and wireless connectivity have become more ubiquitous being fully connected or casually connected to the office via a mobile device is the norm rather than the anomaly. Increased device options like the larger Android SmartPhones, iPads, iPad Minis and Android tablets with their slick, light weight, ergonomic design, easy to use touch-screen and larger screen size integrating these devices in the field is becoming not only easier but compelling. Couple this with the ability to digitally capture signatures, receive payments in the field, integrate Google maps for route optimization one begins to understand why field service companies are looking to leverage mobile technology.
But SmartPhones are not the end all be all as many service companies are discovering. Some field service environments are simply too rugged for a SmartPhone.
Choosing the right device for your service techs is critical. Opting for a rugged device over a SmartPhones is usually driven by the following field service requirements:
- Ruggedness of your environment. If your service techs are in wet, grimy, extreme heat or cold weather conditions you need rugged.
- Heavy Barcode Scanning – if your service techs require high capacity scanning or regularly scan through glass like a windshield you need a rugged device
- Long days may mean longer battery life. If your service techs are in the field more than 8-9 hours a day rugged devices may be right for you. Rugged devices have batteries that last longer. Typically 12-18 hours in a rugged devices versus 5-8 in a SmartPhone (depending on usage)
- IP57 Rated – Not Just Tumble Proof – If you are concerned about devices being dropped, knocked out of a vehicle and hitting concrete rugged is the answer. Many rugged devices come with an IP57 rating which translates to multiple drops to concrete from 5 feet, water proof and dust proof. These devices are basically little tanks ready to work in any environment.
Up until recently rugged devices only came with Windows Mobile with a price tag ranging from $1,500 – $3,000 depending on the configuration. Caterpillar and Kyocera looking to capitalize on these need have released rugged Android devices under $500. These new rugged device options are an attractive option for field service managers who want the usability, familiarity and adoptability of the SmartPhone while providing a more rugged device for their techs.
Popular Rugged Devices
- Psion – WorkAbout Pro, Omni – http://www.motorolasolutions.com/US-EN/Business+Product+and+Services/Mobile+Computers/Handheld+Computers/MC65_US-EN
- Intermec – CK70, CK71, CN70, CN73 http://www.intermec.com/products/computers/handheld_computers/
- Motorola – MC65, http://www.motorolasolutions.com/US-EN/Business+Product+and+Services/Mobile+Computers/Handheld+Computers/MC65_US-EN
Rugged Android Options
- Caterpillar – http://catphones.com/b15-smartphone
- Kyocera Torque http://www.kyocerasmartphones.com/torque/
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ZenTouch is a product of Zenware. Zenware is a Boise Idaho based company that specializes In custom mobile software development, custom iOS development, custom Android development, ipad software development, iphone software development, custom web development, web hosting and Saas based work order management software.