Blog

Military-Grade Rugged Tablets Must Prove Genuine Protection against Environmental Threats

When it comes to military computing, it’s not enough to say your mobile PC solution can protect troops – and data –deployed in response to real-world conflicts. They already face an infinite number of threats from unknown terrain, and unpredictable enemies. Even during training exercises, reconnaissance missions, and routine peace-keeping operations, challenges can arise that require real-time data access to make informed decisions, receive vital intelligence, and initiate fast, coordinated action. Deploying mobile PC devices that aren’t truly impervious to the harmful effects of unavoidable environmental elements – such as fine sand particles or extreme temperatures – will only further threaten the safety and security of your troops and the nations they’re trying to protect.

As my colleague Bob Ashenbrenner has addressed before,  not all rugged tablets are rugged. Or genuinely rugged, I should say. Even some military-grade mobile PCs that claim to be MIL-STD-810G, IP65 or IP67 compliant are only designed to, built to, or tested to certain thresholds. Though standardized ratings systems exist to define safe usage parameters for rugged tablet PCs in military environments, test results – and spec sheets –  aren’t always indicative of true performance under pressure in every possible scenario. Tests are often conducted in labs or during field tests focused on measuring single stressors, and sometimes it’s just impossible to predict how corrosive Middle East sand can be on a mobile PC until it’s in the field for days on end.

Xplore Military-grade ultra-rugged tablets

Plus, not all ratings systems require third-party validation like C1D2/C1Z2 or ATEX Hazardous Location certifications. It’s very easy to trust a rugged tablet’s specifications on paper if all minimum criteria boxes are checked. It’s also easy to default to the device with the lowest pre-negotiated contract price, or the manufacturer with a big, recognizable brand, if limited resources restrict extensive market research efforts. In fact, many armed forces organizations inadvertently add to their troops’ anxiety by arming them with consumer-grade mobile devices that were never truly intended for military installations, much less the battlespace. While such devices offer familiar end-user experiences that allow for seemingly faster integration into theatre operations, fast failure ultimately disqualifies most as viable candidates for military use.

Even “big” manufacturers touting military-grade rugged tablets and laptops can fall short on delivering devices capable of running at full speed in extreme operating temperatures. Not all MIL-STD-810G and IP65/IP67 rated rugged mobile PCs are offering genuine protection against the blatant hazards of modern warfare. They can’t sustain the increased ops tempo now required in a war so dependent on reliable, real-time data on the ground, at sea, and in the air.

To make matter worse, these large manufacturers can’t react fast enough to correct course. It takes them months to customize a mobile PC based on military customer feedback, if they can even make it happen at all. That’s why manufacturers focused solely on rugged mobility – and even more so on a single rugged PC form factor – are now dominating the military mobile device market; they are nimble and flexible enough to deliver individually tailored mobile solutions, without having to cut through extensive red tape. They offer a single point of contact that’s empowered to execute any changes necessary to fine tune the hardware and accessories to each customer’s unique specifications. They spend time on the ground with military customers understanding the unique challenges that emerge every single day. As a result, they can deliver ultra-rugged, military grade tablet PCs with extremely low failure rates. They also deliver tablets that have the ability to be repaired in the field in the event of an unexpected failure during mission critical operations.

And though you typically can’t select where you must conduct military operations, you can be exceptionally selective of the “weapons” you choose to arm your troops within the field. Data is no doubt becoming the most effective weapon – and defense – in today’s cyber, ground, sea, and air war strategies. That’s why military forces of all sizes embrace the mission-critical support of emerging mobile technologies in modern warfare strategies. But, no matter your mission – or the size of your operation – don’t rely on military contracting officers to define your team’s mobile computing requirements.

Want to improve your operational success rate, lower your device failure rate, and decrease the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for your military unit’s mobile hardware, software, and accessory investments? Methodically field test all mobile PC candidates and select a military-grade rugged tablet that’s unequivocally proven its ability to survive any and all threats incurred during planned and unplanned missions.  These rugged tablets will provide:

  • All day battery life through a combination of 20+ hour hot-swappable batteries, field rechargeable options, and smart charge and discharge technology that ensures the main battery is at maximum capacity. 
  • In-Field Serviceability (because no technology is 100 percent guaranteed against the possibility of failure, and troops need fast fix options in the most remote field locations)
  • Multiple USB ports for easy plug-in of keyboards and other peripherals at otherwise disconnected FOB quarters (such as in a tent)
  • A True Serial I/O port for important data transmissions via radio technology in theatre
  • Complete protection against solar radiation, high altitude pressure and temperatures, dust, vibration, shock, water, humidity, corrosive chemicals, drops, and otherwise damaging elements
  • ATEX compliance to ensure safe use in the vicinity of vehicle or aircraft fuel. 
  • An automatically switching screen that supports data input by stylus or hand (finger and military glove touch) while deployed in theatre. 
  • Display screens that remain useable when wet.
  • MIL-STD-461 certification for EMC sensitive areas. 

Remember: Selecting a mobile PC based on the product spec summary listed on a pre-negotiated contract – or even the word of a sales rep – will not suffice for world-class military operations reliant on best-in-class mobile technologies to:

  1. Design and implement a field-proven, real world-ready communications and data platform that’s compatible with other military technology systems.
  2. Securely transmit data that plays a definitive role in mission success.
  3. Protect people and information in high pressure situations.
  4. Modernize maintenance, training, and Special Forces operations.

Find a rugged tablet partner with  a level of industry strength, computing power, and operational flexibility that is genuine and you’ll find it easier to secure a military-grade mobile solution that can support every mission-critical computing requirement every time it’s deployed.