The levels of ruggardization are not standardized, which means that vendors have the freedom to use the labels as they see fit. Most vendors incorporate other values in their self-evaluations to provide potential customers with some assurance that their products deserve the label they have been given. The two most common values cited are from the Ingress Protection (IP) Code, a system for classifying the degrees of sealing protection provided by the enclosures of electrical equipment and MIL STD 810, a series of testing guidelines set by the U.S. Department of Defense for military and commercial equipment.
Recently we’ve been discussing the effect of ruggedness on mobile devices used within the enterprise. To briefly catch you up, we’ve argued that innovations in mobile technology have made it possible for most peripheral hardware devices to be replaced by smartphone/tablet-based apps, and the trends are clearly moving in that direction. Today we’ll continue the conversation by investigating which levels of ruggedness levels are recommended for a variety of usage scenarios.
When talking about the impact of device ruggedness specific to certain verticals, such as the retail or manufacturing industry, we must ask a couple of basic questions. What impact will a device failure have on the usage scenarios within those industries? How much will this particular kind of device cost to fix or replace?
For instance, in an environment where individual users frequently scan items (as in the case of package pickup and delivery), issuing rugged mobile devices to employees makes perfect sense, while in instances where many different employees occasionally scan an item (as in the case of document tracking), it could be advantageous to allow employees to access a company-developed app on their personal smartphone devices, which might protected using company-issued ruggedized cases.
Below we briefly summarize the effect of device failure on specific verticals and make recommendations for device ruggedness ratings based on this information:
The retail environment involves many enterprise usage scenarios including point-of-sale, sales force empowerment, procurement and inventory management. For scenarios where a retail employee is dealing with a customer, as in the case of point-of-sale or checking on a product’s availability, a device failure would lower customer service and decrease the possibility of making a sale. In other back-of-the-house scenarios, like procurement and inventory management, a device failure could mean an employee has to take the time to go through a process manually which is typically automated. Retail environments have one of the lower device failure rates. As with all the verticals, rugged devices in retail environments fail at almost half the rate of non-ruggedized devices. Because most of these environments are controlled and indoors, retailers can expect that their devices will be dropped from time to time, but they shouldn’t regularly encounter water or dirt.
Healthcare environments are heavily varied, and many include exposure to hazardous liquids or germs. device failure rates in healthcare settings are incredibly high; in fact they are the highest amongst the verticals we’re considering. Ruggedizing these devices drops the rate of failure by over half. Since the environments where these devices are used are heavily varied, with some mobile devices being used for patient bedside care while others may be used in the pharmacy, healthcare professionals should consider selecting devices or cases that have antimicrobial coating, in addition to being rated to the highest level of durability
Many manufacturers already use rugged devices in warehouse environments because device failure can cause a whole mess of problems, including falling behind on orders and massive productivity losses. Mobile devices in manufacturing environments fail at a rate much higher than that of retail, since the environments are less controlled and involve a higher chance of exposure to water or dirt. Because of the rough and varied nature of warehouses we recommend that manufacturers use mobile devices with the highest rating of durability.
A device failure in a logistics scenario such as field service can mean that a technician doesn’t have access to important electronically stored data he needs to complete the job, and will require that he manually record elements of the field service process that are typically automated. Of all the verticals we’re examining, field service scenarios have one of the highest device failure rates. Because field service scenarios typically involve using mobile devices in a wide variety of indoor and outdoor environments, there is an increased likelihood of these devices being dropped and/or encountering water, dirt and dust. We recommend that businesses provide the highest level of durability possible for field service scenarios
The logistics industry involves the transportation of goods and situations such as package delivery and shipment. Device failure rates are higher than that of the retail industry, and ruggedness can reduce this failure rate by almost half. Another interesting consideration is that failure rates are still over 2% for rugged devices involved in transportation and logistics, suggesting that this environment is generally rough on devices. Because of the various environments and potential exposure to water, dirt and dust, we recommend that devices used for logistics and transportation purposes be rated at the highest level of durability.