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Alternative energy resources are growing in popularity throughout the U.S., and solar is leading the way. According to the National Solar Jobs Census 2013, the growth of solar jobs in 2013 increased at a rate of 19.9 percent since September 2012, which is 10 times faster than the national average employment growth rate of 1.9 percent.
With the increase in solar jobs, installers have more projects on their plate and have to be more efficient than ever. Like any technician, the job requires mobility and to be in the field day-in and day-out. Solar installers have to make sure each photovoltaic (PV) panel is correctly setup and running efficiently.
Not only do technicians have to constantly be in the field, but the majority of residential solar installations and most business installations are installed on the roof. Technicians are safer working on rooftops with an all-in-one rugged device. Each resident's or business's roof is different, and one slip on an awkward shaped roof could lead to a severe injury. Technicians are constantly carrying installation manuals and other paperwork, and sorting through forms on a roof can increase the risk of a fall.
Pennsylvania recently had a significant problem with its state's bridges and had no solution for state planners to know the condition or number of the smaller bridges. Pennsylvania uses federal funds to repair and maintain larger bridges in that state, which typically are more than 20 feet in distance. However, according to GCN, thousands of the smaller bridges that exist in the state disappeared from the records because the state was not responsible for the repairs.
"We knew we wanted to be able to holistically view the complete road and bridge system," Matthew Long, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation planning specialist for the Bridge Program told GCN. "But we didn't have a good way to make that happen other than collecting piles of paperwork from our planning partners, which would have to then be driven into the state office."
As a substitute, Long turned to technology and created a computer application where local transportation planners working for counties and municipalities would be able to inspect the bridges in the local areas, and then report the data back to the state immediately, reported GCN.
Mapping Apps Collecting Important Bridge Data The app used specific mapping data that ran on an Oracle database that worked off three combined servers running ArcGIS. Each server controlled a different data entry job such as handling map data, managing the mobile clients for the bridge app and for running the Web-facing front end, reported GCN.
Utility pole inspection has always been tedious task since it often results in sending technicians into the field to test numerous power lines. Electric utility crews have to make sure poles are sturdy and keeping drivers or nearby residents safe.
In Orangeburg, S.C., the Orangeburg Department of Utilities used to have a basic utility pole inspection process that only looked for issues when problems occurred, reported Intelligent Utility Magazine.
"Our policy was basically that when the pole falls down, we put one back up," John Bagwell, director of the electric division at Orangeburg DPU, told Intelligent Utility Magazine. "We never really used to inspect poles."
The lack of utility line and pole inspections could lead to more downtime issues or problems connecting to the main grid. It's something that many utility companies in the U.S. face, and some simply cannot afford to send multiple crews to inspect every single pole.
However, that was before advancements in radio frequency identification (RFID) technology, which now allows utility companies to tag poles and monitor their distribution levels. The Orangeburg DPU has tagged at least 9,000 poles since 2012 and Bagwell hopes to have all 33,000 poles within the utility's district with RFID tags within a couple of years.
Industrial work places present harsh environments for crews and when they need their equipment, facing downtime isn't an option. Industry workers rely on heavy machinery to process, sort and build their company's product, which is always a demanding job, but with the increase in mobile technology, businesses are looking for computers that are as tough as their employees.
While many companies are moving toward mobile tablet computer devices, some are still unsure whether to stick with cheaper consumer tablets or invest in industrial ruggedized tablets. Tablets are a booming market and most companies will be using them in some fashion within the next few years. According to NDP Display Search's Quarterly Mobile PC Shipment and Forecast Report, nearly 75 percent of PCs shipped by 2017 will be tablets, which will amount to 455 million tablets shipped by 2017.
Industrial companies typically put workplace safety at the top of their lists and reducing the amount of injuries will help business continuity. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 15 percent of all accidental deaths per year are due to slips, trips and falls in the general industry workplace, reported Reliable Plant.
However, there are ways to increase safety in the workplace to limit the number of slip and falls. According to The Columbus Dispatch, the manufacturing industry has one of the highest rates for injuries in the workplace, and businesses are searching for ways to protect their employees.
In most manufacturing plant incidents, the reasons for slips and falls, according to Reliable Plant, are lose flooring, uneven walking services, missing handrails, electrical cords, wet or greasy floors, open cabinet drawers and missing or uneven bricks in steps.
The United States Air Force depends on fast-acting technology to get critical data from one station to the next as quick as an F-16 would. Military officials are also counted on to stay connected while protecting extremely sensitive data.
USAF technicians on the flight line or during crucial missions need to act as fast as possible and stay mobile to work on each military jet or vehicle. Operations are constantly changing and USAF technicians need a single point of access to receive information on maintenance repairs or mission procedures.
Working at heights reaching more than 300 feet can be awe-inspiring, but extremely dangerous. Wind turbine operators have to provide gearbox maintenance inspections and blade repairs while at intense heights. Working on top of wind turbines spares only a few feet in each direction, which leaves operators with little mobility. Wind turbine technicians can improve their mobility and reduce risks with rugged tablets during uptower maintenance.
Wind turbines are constantly being adjusted and maneuvered to find the strongest wind paths for the most energy. According to a recent study by the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory, adjusting a turbine's direction or its running time by a few minutes can make all the difference with active power controls, reported e! Science News. Typically, all wind power systems are computerized and while adjusting times and turbine directions might be easy from industrial computers on the ground - working more than 300 feet off the ground could make it difficult to lug around computer equipment.
The aviation transportation industry runs on well-organized logistical tasks that would be nearly impossible to operate without the right technology. Airliners follow strict safety regulations to protect pilots while transporting cargo. The U.S. government is trying to reduce the amount of aviation crashes and having access to the best mobile technology could resolve and prevent future incidents.
Safety Improving from Rugged Tablets When airline maintenance crews inspect commercial jets, they need to stay mobile and have of their important tools beside them. Repair times are prolonged when crews are forced to run back and forth to desktop computers to log maintenance information. Rugged tablets that have maintenance and repair applications allow crew members to stay mobile while inspecting enormous commercial jets.
The advanced technology of hydraulic fracturing has brought a new wave of natural gas and oil production to the U.S. and as it grows, so do the drilling sites. Energy drilling work sites are popping up across America and all over shale formations in states such as Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Dakota and Texas. New technology has allowed oil and gas companies to reach more trapped gas in shale formations, which has ultimately increased drilling operations in the U.S.
However, as the industry continues to grow, the rate of work-related injuries continue to rise for oil and gas workers. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 20 percent of work-related fatalities in oil and gas operations were due to equipment failures. Oil and gas crews have an extremely dangerous job that requires them to stay alert at all times and ready to move. The equipment used on oil and gas work sites is often heavy, strong and resilient to the work environment, so having the right gas tablet is necessary.
The Sochi Winter Olympics have created a massive buzz around the world and many American travelers might have some hesitations about attending the festivities in Russia. Sadly, Olympic events are far too often targets for threats or attacks toward tourists and athletes. However, as technology improve, so does the ability of keeping residents and travelers safe.
During the winter games, nearly 40,000 Russian security officials will be closely guarding the premises while checking bags, scanning water bottles and monitoring train stations to make sure everyone taking part in the festivities will be safe, reported The Wall Street Journal.
"The main thesis that we're operating under for the event is that security will be unnoticeable," Alexei Lavrishchev, a Federal Security Service official told The Wall Street Journal. "It will not be in your face, it won't interfere with anyone in public spaces."
Security officials keeping a low profile during the Olympic Games will make visitors feel more at ease while in Russia. One of the biggest reasons why security officials can remain low-key is because of mobile technology. Advancements in ruggedized tablets allow security officials and federal security agencies in Sochi to stay connected with communication applications.
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