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Damaged LaptopThere is no doubt that construction workers deal with some tough conditions on work sites. A top-of-line computer or tablet for your office manager may fail quickly in the extreme conditions your field workers experience every day. Your crews face extreme heat and cold in work environments that are constantly exposed to dust, dirt, water — and better-than-even chances that a laptop will fall off a truck. They need equipment that is tough enough to handle it all.

Derek Jacobs, manager of network services at Common Sense Solutions, has seen every kind of damage a computer can take, and he understands what you mean when you say you need IT equipment that can handle harsh environments.

He says, “We’re talking about being able to work in extreme temperatures and humidity with equipment that can handle constant vibrations, drops and shocks, high pressure, and even extreme sunlight — you have to be able to read your screen, after all.”

Better equipment for the toughest jobs

As construction company leaders increasingly use mobile applications to support their workers in the field, the need for tougher equipment is on the rise. Hardware manufacturers have improved both the availability and quality of rugged devices that can be used in a variety of harsh conditions.

In order to stay competitive, hardware makers have begun to offer rugged equipment that mimics consumer devices, making their rugged offerings lighter and stronger with better battery life and greater access to existing carrier networks.

But not all rugged devices are created equal.

[sidebar]Rugged Equipment Workshop and Seminar
It’s time to get hands-on! Join Derek Jacobs from 7:30-10:30 a.m. Sept. 28 at Top Golf in Naperville, Illinois, for a Rugged Equipment Workshop and Seminar! At the event, you’ll have the chance to take a closer look at new equipment from on-site vendors. Don’t miss your opportunity to see what’s new in rugged equipment with Common Sense Solutions!

Register today

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In order for a device to be considered rugged, Jacobs says, it needs to conform to the American military standard (MIL-STD) for equipment. This rigorous standard covers all types of military equipment, including IT equipment. Hardware that meets the standard must pass challenging tests for resistance to low and high temperatures as well as severe weather conditions that include blowing sand, various levels of humidity, liquids, shocks, and vibrations.

Reaching this standard includes a total of 23 lab tests that determine a device’s level of ruggedness. This extensive testing ensures that the device can handle the harshest of conditions and continue to work as designed. However, some company decision-makers balk at the higher price tag for these tough devices.

“The initial cost is just one factor to consider when choosing technology,” Jacobs says. “The on-the-job reliability is a much more important consideration. On job sites and when there’s lots of travel involved, companies want to be sure project managers and workers can continue working, regardless of the environment. Downtime ends up being a much greater cost. If your devices stop working, productivity grinds to a halt, the job suffers, your timeline suffers, and your profit suffers.”

Choose the right rugged devices

Because these purpose-built devices are more expensive, purchasing managers need to carefully choose the right devices for their workers’ needs.

“When you’re looking at rugged devices, it’s important to understand that not every feature is going to be needed,” explains Jacobs. “You want to match features to the real-life challenges your crews face, but you don’t have to overbuy. Take the time to determine what is really most important to you.”

It’s important to compare devices, Jacobs says. He is developing a seminar that he will offer in September to Common Sense Solutions customers in the Chicago area. The hands-on workshop will give attendees a chance to examine semi-rugged and rugged devices to better understand how to select the right equipment.

“We’ll also be talking about security issues,” says Jacobs, “including device security, asset tracking, and remote control of devices.”

When you invest in rugged IT equipment, you’re investing in business productivity and efficiency. That’s what’s going to deliver returns on your investment far beyond the cost of those devices. The experts at Common Sense Solutions are here to help you choose wisely.

[cta]Have a question or comment? Need IT advice? Contact the experts at Common Sense Solutions.[/cta]