By Joanna Jagiello, Marketing Director at The Barcode Warehouse
A recent multi-industry study carried out by Samsung discovered that 81% of decision-makers in the construction, manufacturing, transport and logistics, health, retail, emergency services, utilities and automotive industries, believe that tougher devices will be essential in their workplace over the next two years.
Further to this, feedback from those currently using rugged technology in their roles was incredibly positive, with 86% of respondents sharing that the devices are beneficial to their jobs. So whether it’s finding ways to maintain effective communication and collaboration between employees working in different locations, or guaranteeing only the highest levels of data security for your clients; rugged tech will play a crucial role in the future of your business operations.
As discussions around budgets for the new financial year start to appear in your calendar, can you really afford to not start investing, or invest more deeply, in rugged technology. In this article, we explore what rugged tech is available, and how it can benefit you, your workforce, and your bottom line.
What is rugged technology?
If this is the first time you’ve heard of rugged technology, fret not! From enhanced durability and functionality to improved security and cost savings, rugged technology has a lot to offer. As you’ll see, investing in rugged technology can be a smart choice for any organisation looking to maintain high levels of productivity, reduce downtime, and streamline technology expenses.
When we discuss technology, you might hear two common ways of describing the type of devices used day-to-day; consumer-grade, and rugged.
Consumer-grade devices can be purchased off-the shelf. Despite their screen resolutions, hardware and software, they are generally used by casual home and personal users; think your everyday smartphone, tablet or laptop. While these are great for everyday use, it’s likely that they are not entirely suitable for use in business. This is where rugged technology comes into play.
Rugged technology refers to devices that are specifically designed to withstand extreme conditions and harsh environments. They are built to be durable and resistant to environmental factors such as dust, moisture, and extreme temperatures. Rugged technology is often used in industries such as construction, transportation, and manufacturing, where devices are exposed to challenging conditions on a regular basis
It wouldn’t make sense, though, to equip your construction field worker with the same grade of technology as, say, a team member in retail. This is why there are different levels of ruggedness.
A standard rugged smartphone, for example, would be more resilient against rain and dust than your standard smartphone, but wouldn’t be able to function after being submerged in water or dropped from a height.
Semi-rugged technology is designed to withstand some degree of rough handling and environmental factors. Colder, or hotter, temperatures, thicker dust, and wetter conditions are handled with ease by semi-rugged tech. Semi-rugged devices are typically favoured by manufacturing, automotive, and law enforcement industries who are most likely to be exposed to moderately challenging environments. It’s worth considering semi-rugged tech like a commercial-off-the-shelf computer complimented with some limited rugged features to help them withstand drops, bumps, and less gentle use.
Fully-rugged technology, on the other hand, is designed to be extremely durable and resistant to the most demanding conditions. These devices are built to military specifications and can withstand extreme temperatures, shocks, and vibrations. In addition to fully-rugged technology, there is also ultra-rugged technology that is close to indestructible, this type of technology is often used in extreme conditions such as oil rigs, mining and other harsh environments. You’ll most likely find fully rugged, or ultra rugged, tech being used in construction and manufacturing where near-indestructibility in the harshest of environments is needed in order for a device to last longer than a day!
When it comes to selecting rugged technology, it is important to consider the specific needs of your organisation. If your employees are frequently working in the field or in harsh environments, investing in fully-rugged or ultra-rugged technology may be a wise choice to ensure the longevity of your devices and to minimise downtime. On the other hand, if your employees primarily work in office environments, semi-rugged technology may be sufficient to meet their needs.
What makes rugged technology different?
When it comes to selecting devices for your organisation, there are three primary factors to consider to decide whether they’re right for you and your team. These are:
Let’s dive into each of these in a bit more depth.
Consider the environment your workers do their job in
One of the most obvious differences between rugged and consumer devices is their level of durability. Rugged technology is engineered to survive tough conditions, such as extreme temperatures, drops, and moisture, through features like shock-mounted hard drives, floating internal components, dust and moisture-resistant casings, and all-magnesium exteriors. These features ensure that the device can operate even in the harshest of environments, unlike consumer devices which would fail under similar conditions. Research by Samsung found that 58% of decision-makers reported that rugged tech’s durability was the primary benefit, with an impressive 84% stating that performance improved when they didn’t have to worry about their devices breaking.
Assessing the work environment that your team operates in day-to-day will give you a good idea of the durability required from their devices. Office-based teams are unlikely to benefit from rugged tech, but if you have teams that are out in the field who find themselves working in harsher conditions, like those managing construction sites outside, then rugged tech is definitely worthwhile considering. By investing in technology that can operate efficiently in all-terrain environments, you are ensuring that profitability and productivity can be maintained – no matter where your employees may find themselves.
Do you require specific software or functionality to complete tasks?
Another important consideration is the functionality of the device. Rugged devices are typically built for specific tasks and industries, such as construction, manufacturing, and field service. They are designed to be used in challenging environments and often have features such as barcode scanning and GPS. Consumer devices, on the other hand, are designed for general use and may not have the same level of functionality as rugged devices.
Short-term savings Vs long-term gains
Of course, cost is always a consideration when making a purchase. Rugged devices are generally more expensive than consumer devices due to their enhanced durability and functionality. However, the long-term cost savings of a rugged device may outweigh the initial investment. Consumer devices, on the other hand, are often more affordable, but they may not last as long or be able to withstand the same conditions as rugged devices.
Data from PwC suggests that UK productivity is, on average, 30% lower than our stateside counterparts. In addition to this, the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) found that the UK’s productivity rate has been waning since 2008; slowing dramatically from an average of 2.3% to 0.5% between 2008 and 2020. While there are plenty of circumstances outside your control, it’s important to pull the levers that you can. In the same study by Samsung, nearly 45% of decision-makers reported that an increased level of productivity was measured when rugged tech was in use.
Given that 66% of employees with a work-related, company-owned device has been working with the same tech since the start of the covid-19 pandemic, there’s a huge opportunity, ripe for the picking, to help improve the productivity of your workers, and your business.
When it comes to choosing the right device for your organisation, it’s important to weigh the durability, functionality, and cost of both rugged and consumer devices. While rugged devices may be more expensive, their enhanced durability and functionality can make them a better choice for certain industries and tasks, making them a worthwhile investment that will save you money in the long-run.