Apple’s iPad is clearly out in front of the tablet race in the consumer market. But how does it stack up in the world of construction? This is a question more and more construction companies continue to consider when looking at how to extend processes out into the field.
It is easy to get caught up in the hype surrounding the iPad in the business world. While the devices are more affordable than rugged tablets, sometimes it doesn’t always make sense to implement iPads just for the sake of putting a device in the hands of project managers.
Edward Ruffolo, director of technology, Miron Construction, www.miron-construction.com, Neenah, Wis., says, “There is no sense buying 25 iPads and handing them off to project managers and saying, ‘Well, at least you can check your email.’ I mean, that is nice, but that is not really going to … it is not revolutionary. It is not transformative.”
When considering a new device for the field, deciding how the tablet is going to be used and implementing a strategy for field collection and management can make or break an investment in mobile devices and corresponding applications.
For the construction industry, rugged capabilities come into play quite a bit. For example, in the realm of service construction, many contractors may choose to mount a tablet in a service truck. But with a string of recent heat waves sweeping the country, temperatures can quickly rise in these trucks, causing damage. Rugged devices may be more apt to enduring extreme heat at the jobsite.
The misconception with many of these devices is that they are bulky. In many cases, tablet providers are now coming to market with products that are lightweight and portable, as well as rugged.
Last week, Group Mobile, www.groupmobile.com, Phoenix, Ariz., a mobile computer reseller, announced it will now offer ARMOR rugged tablet computers from DRS Technologies, www.drs.com, Parsippany, N.J., the supplier of the products.
These tablets are lightweight, weighing less than 1.5-pounds, with a 7-inch display, and are certified to meet standards for extreme temperatures, vibrations, shock, 4-foot drops, and are fully protected against dust, and can withstand low-pressure jets of water.
The devices run on the Android operating system and the Microsoft Windows platform—both of which are quickly developing traction in the business world for mobile devices.
Rugged features aren’t the only consideration for construction companies these days. Connectivity—and secure delivery of information to and from the office and the field—is increasingly becoming a top priority for field service and construction firms that are using devices in the field.
Last week, Motion Computing, www.motioncomputing.com, Austin, Texas, announced its new series of tablets, the Motion CL910, which runs on Microsoft Windows. The devices have Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity and a TPM (trusted platform module) that offers secure information management and data protection.
Ultimately, what device a company selects for the jobsite really depends on the needs of the organization. The iPad has proven to be a solid device that works within many construction companies’ business process. But the key is first determining how the device will transform procedures at the jobsite.