Mobile & Tech

The Case for Going Rugged

Companies across industry lines are getting on board with wireless technology and mobile computing that enable their field crews to work more productively and accurately. One of the things they’ve learned as they transition to mobile-based solutions is that not every piece of equipment is equally qualified for the job at hand. In the end, rugged tablet PCs give you a stronger return on your investment.

Consumer Tablets: Fragile, Cumbersome, Unalterable

Equipment intended for the everyday consumer isn’t designed to meet the demands of field service work. Devices aren’t equipped to function well, or long-term, in conditions where they might get banged around or dropped, exposed to dust, dirt and moisture, not to mention very high or low temperatures. They’re too fragile, they can’t be easily mounted in vehicles, and perhaps most important, they can’t simply be “upgraded” for ruggedness.

Field work requires a fully rugged tablet PC with specific attributes. Touchscreen and stylus options are essential tools, but workers often wear gloves. They must be able to easily read the screen in any light, and it has to be large enough to clearly show maps, diagrams and images. Yet the device must be small and light enough for easy portability.

Rugged Tablets: Fast, Accurate, Durable   

With integrated GPS and GIS technology, a rugged tablet is an all-in-one solution that helps field technicians do their work far more efficiently and in far greater detail while also supporting back-end workflow and business management. Better information gathering and increased accuracy improve record-keeping and historical documentation, making the next job easier and faster, too.

Field service companies that plan to remain competitive know automation is the key. A rugged tablet PC eliminates time-consuming paperwork, error-prone transcription and delays caused by travel back and forth between the office and the field. Instead, personnel at every level now have greater, real-time visibility into work assignments, progress and data. Even customers can be kept in the communications loop in a timely manner.

That’s because a rugged tablet PC has what it takes, working reliably when and where it’s needed in the field and assuring instant two-way communication with the home office personnel and the central database. Appropriately equipped, the tablet can seamlessly integrate with both commonly-used and proprietary applications. It can use GPS and GIS for date, time and location stamping of work orders as well as detailed mapping and viewing or capturing high-resolution images of the work being done.

Armed with “write-over” capability using a stylus or touchscreen, field technicians can modify or update maps to note physical location of customer service lines or other details, then upload the new data for immediate availability.

With a rugged tablet PC in hand, field crews don’t need to “tag up” with the office. They can receive work assignments, complete the work, electronically sign it, upload reports and other files right away and move on to the next job. If necessary, they can instantly communicate with dispatchers to make scheduling changes on the fly. And the same date, time and location stamping that supports work order fulfillment enables automatic time sheet recording and electronic billing, too. That saves time across the board.

Retaining your competitive position depends on getting field work done faster, in greater detail, more accurately and completely. Any mobile device can enhance at least some parts of your operation, but companies are turning to a rugged tablet PC because it ensures durability, reliability and top performance everywhere, even under duress.

This article was previously published on Field Technologies Online, and is reposted here with permission.

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