As smart phones and tablets become more sophisticated and less expensive, people are using them more and more for business applications like data entry and remote machine monitoring. But in industrial settings, a consumer-grade phone or tablet won’t last long. Many manufacturers have come to rely on dozens or even hundreds of computers to keep their essential business applications running. If a computer goes down, production can be slowed or even stopped, so it is crucial to have reliable computers. This is where rugged tablets and computers come in.
Last year, Teguar’s Chris Ealahan, wrote his “5 tips for choosing tablet computers for industrial environments” in an article published by Automation.com. As mobile computing grows throughout the industrial sector, these features are important to know before you choose computer hardware for your industrial application.
1. Ability to Handle Industrial Environments
Many people think if they put their smart phone or tablet in a rugged case, they’re safe, but even in a rugged casing, consumer-grade products can be damaged by moisture, dust, vibrations, and extreme temperatures. Ealahan explains that “if an employee is using the tablet PC in a warm vehicle, and then steps out with it into freezing temperatures in the field, it could cause condensation.” Industrial-grade devices are designed to withstand temperature fluctuations and other environmental effects like extreme heat or cold, rain, snow, dirt, and dust.
2. Designed to Run with More Than One Operating System
Many Android and Windows smartphones and tablets are designed to run only one operating system. This means when you are ready to upgrade your software, you’re limited to that one operating system. Industrial grade computer hardware is designed to run with a variety of operating systems, such as Windows Embedded, Windows Professional, Windows IoT, Linux, and any other system that gets developed.
3. Touchscreen Design and Readability
Touchscreens on most consumer grade tablets and phones are projective capacitive (P-Cap), which is not always ideal for industrial settings. P-Cap touchscreens cannot be used with gloves and things like water and electrical current can interfere with the touchscreen, this is why industrial tablets are offered with resistive touchscreens.
Another important feature of industrial tablets and computers is their readability. If you are using the tablets outdoors or under bright lights, you should consider PCs with high resolution, sunlight readable LCD lit screens, TFT screens, CCFL backlit, high brightness and a wide viewing angle.
4. Portability and Ruggedness
Your tablet needs to be able to go with you wherever you go and you don’t want to spend time worrying about your computer equipment. Rugged tablets can withstand drops and shocks. They’re also designed to be mounted on equipment like a forklift, which can send jolts and vibrations to the tablet that would put a consumer grade tablet out of operation.
In industries such as food and beverage manufacturing, equipment often needs to be washed down with hot water, which can create steam that would be fatal for consumer grade tablets. Rugged tablet PCs are designed to withstand these conditions. They are fully waterproof, so whether its steam, rain, or you drop it in a puddle, these tablets can handle it.
Teguar’s rugged tablet are rigorously tested to ensure they can withstand harsh environments. If your consumer grade tablets are “dropping like flies,” as one engineer recalled, then you need to deploy rugged, industrial grade PCs. Rugged tablets will provide reliable operation for years, rather than months.
About the Author: Christopher Ealahan is a Senior Sales Executive at Teguar Computers. Chris loves all things rugged, including computers and the great outdoors. He frequently works with Fortune 500 companies to deploy and support the best computing solutions on their factory floors.