When you're shopping for mobile technology for your Mining or Oil & Gas operations, we know that you're not stopping at the first rugged computer that meets all of your criteria. Nor are you stopping after you realize that a rugged tablet is the right choice. Designing and implementing a field-ready mobile solution entails much more then deploying rugged mobile devices in Hazardous Locations or extending critical workflow software to the mobile environment. While hardware and software are essential components, so are accessories.
Though mobile (by definition) is the ability to move or be moved freely or easily, carrying any tool – whether a big hammer or a rugged tablet – for extended periods of time can seem cumbersome, regardless of how lightweight either may be. That’s why the viability – and availability – of compatible vehicle docks, forklift mounting solutions, and even carrying straps must be weighed as greatly as the rugged mobile PC itself when assembling a long-lasting mobility solution.
It’s also why rugged tablets’ practicality as both a hand-carried and docked PC in both indoor and open-air industrial environments is valued far greater than rugged laptops, notebooks, or handhelds. Unlike these other form factors, rugged tablets enjoy the security, protection and flexibility of purpose-built, highly-compatible, and even customizable accessories straight from the manufacturer. Together, they create a multi-purpose PC solution viable in the field, vehicle, and/or office:
- Hands-free and dockable carrying cases
- Wired, wireless, and waterproof professional docks for the vehicle, office, clean room, and every industrial cart, work station, and heavy machine in between
- Multiple mounting hardware options, many of which are customizable with third-party support
- Active and passive digital pens with built-in tablet tethers and housings
- Physical locking mechanisms, such as Kensington lock brackets
- Multi-bay battery charging stands and hot-swappable battery options
They also provide rugged tablet users with a level of secure storage and easy handling comparable to a mechanic’s tool bag.
Locking your rugged tablet into a shock, vibration, dust, and water-resistant forklift mount with extreme humidity and temperature tolerance not only frees up the driver’s hands for safer operation of the heavy machine, but protects your device and data against the extreme, though normal, environmental wear and tear expected on an oil rig platform. Having the option to transition between an adjustable shoulder strap, rotating device-back hand strap, and the rubberized, slip-free grip of the rugged tablet’s handle is also appealing. It removes the burden of carrying this mandatory mobile work tool for long distances and long shifts during pipeline inspections or underground mining operations where device resting places are scarce. These attached carrying options also allow for fast and easy rugged tablet transition back into the workflow when ready, without hassling with zipped bags or cases typically used for laptops and smartphones. Being able to quickly secure a rugged tablet for easy navigational reference in the vehicle, while enjoying a one-hand release function when ready to head back into the field, isn’t something commonly offered with rugged laptops or even smartphones either.
In many cases –though portable – rugged laptops and notebooks are left in their dock in the vehicle because their bulky carrying cases only add more weight to the mix, and they aren’t amenable to easy data entry thanks to their attached keyboard component. Even if intended for use only in a vehicle or heavy machine, it’s also hard to right-size notebook mounts in tiny spaces when they aren’t so tiny themselves. Again, the added weight only creates more reinforcement requirements, so the mounting options are limited.
Smartphones…well, when have you really ever seen a vehicle mount or carrying case for a rugged handheld? They may be more prevalent on a forklift, but otherwise tend to live freely in a pocket, a bag, or other easy-to-lose place.
Rugged tablets, because they’re architected with system-wide mobility requirements in mind, truly offer the most industry-relevant and workflow-specific features and accessories. As you evaluate the mobile PC options for your organization, think beyond the “brick.” Take special note of the extended practicality and cost-saving advantages of rugged tablets AND their accessories, and don’t discount the value of a single manufacturer hardware and accessory solution.