Is Your Consumer Tablet Handling Your Working Environment?


Two field workers using a rugged device out in the sunlight

Consumer tablets are ideal to use at home and can be useful in some lines of work. But depending on the environment and how much you rely on it, you could be better off using a semi-rugged or fully rugged device. So how do you know if your consumer tablet is handling your work environment or if it might be time for a rugged upgrade?

Consumer Vs Semi Rugged Devices

They’re similar but different. A consumer device might seem fit for purpose until you ask too much from it.

Hard Knocks

When a worker holds a device for much of their workday, it’s more at risk of being damaged than if the device is for personal use only. Most consumer tablets are used only in the home and for short bursts, not eight-hour-long stints. While a consumer tablet on the lounge is at risk of falling off or being sat on, it’s a far greater risk in a work setting.

Being left in a hot vehicle, the vibration of a rough road, being dropped from a height, getting wet in the weather or dust getting in can spell the end for a consumer tablet. But a semi rugged or fully rugged tablet can take the hard knocks that come with being used in work settings.

Reduced Down-Time and Repair Costs

Your organisation might think they’re saving money purchasing consumer devices because it’s a cheaper cost per unit compared to semi and full rugged units, but it can be a short-sighted view. The total cost of ownership can be cheaper with a rugged unit when you take into account downtime, breakages, faster turnover and poor reliability.

A consumer device is more likely to suffer damage compared to a semi-rugged device that copes with much rougher treatment.

If a consumer device is damaged and needs a repair, it may leave a worker without a device, so they’re less productive. If the device isn’t covered by warranty, you’re also liable for the cost of the repair. The time to organise the repair also costs money. Having more reliable units is peace of mind for the workers using them and for the organisation to enjoy greater efficiency.

Gloved Hands

Most semi rugged and fully rugged devices have multi touch screens that respond to workers wearing all kinds of gloves. Consumer devices aren’t designed for gloved hands.

Workers from a wide range of industries and roles including mining, construction, warehousing and inventory management routinely wear protective gloves and don’t need to remove their glove/s every time they need to touch the screen.

Even if you don’t wear gloves at work, a rugged device often has 10 point touch and stylus pen use.

Hours of Use 

Consumer devices aren’t designed to run for eight to 12 hours straight use – (the length of a work shift). Generally, rugged devices have a longer battery life than consumer devices, so they can cope with the demands of a long shift.

Increased Security Requirements

A consumer device doesn’t have the security needed for most businesses. If a device is lost or stolen the data can be retrieved more easily from a consumer device than a semi rugged device. A company can decide how secure the device should be and has the option of deploying high security programs.


Consumer devices are designed for use in optimal environments such as the home where their air quality is clean and the device won’t be caught in a shower of rain.

Semi and fully rugged devices are built to withstand the dust and dirt in a factory or outside in the field. They can withstand getting wet from rain or a liquid spill. Most rugged devices are built with sunlight readability technology, making it easier for field workers to read their screen outdoors.

Industries That Have Benefited From Rugged Devices

Some industries have completely changed the way they work with the introduction of semi and fully rugged devices.

Inventory Management

A consumer tablet may be used for inventory management, but it’s not as efficient as a rugged tablet. The warehousing industry is now saving time and money by using rugged tablets to manage inventory. Consumer devices aren’t designed for complex inventory barcode scanning software. Rugged units are needed to run sophisticated inventory management, asset tracking and ticketing. The data is available to supervisors and head office staff in real time without the need to sync a smart phone to a tablet.

Digitalised Field Services

In recent years, organisations have been able to change the way they do field work thanks to rugged units. Consumer devices didn’t have the features needed by workers out in the field so much of their work couldn’t be digitised and it remained on paper.

The screen on a customer device isn’t designed for viewing in bright light, it can’t cope with high temperatures in summer on the dash of the van, it can’t get wet in the rain, has limited scanning abilities and may not survive being dropped on the paving.

Rugged units addressed the shortcomings and fieldwork with rugged units offered better customer service, more efficiencies and cost savings.

Difference Between Semi and Fully Rugged

If your business has been using a consumer device, chances are you don’t need the full capabilities of a rugged device. A semi rugged tablet is a good middle option between a consumer and a fully rugged device.

A semi rugged will survive rougher treatment than a consumer device. Its IP rating isn’t as high as a fully rugged device, but it’s protected against dust, drops and will survive sprays of water, but not immersion like a rugged unit can.

A semi rugged can cope with hotter and colder temperatures than a consumer device, but not the extreme temperatures of a freezer or an Australian summer in the desert. If a device is exposed to shock or an explosive environment then a rugged device with those specs is a requirement.

It’s a matter of determining your business requirements and whether you need a semi or fully rugged device to meet those demands. A rugged classification means a device meets all of the military standard MIL-810G specs.

If you’re looking for a semi or fully rugged device that could reduce the total ownership costs of your current consumer tablets, contact the experts at Roaming Technologies by calling 1300 131 933 or contact us online.

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