Technology Impact on the Environment - Is Rugged Better?


field worker with her rugged laptop to reduce the impact on environment

Worldwide companies have increasingly invested time, effort, and other resources in analysing how their operations impact the environment. The considerations go all the way from electricity and water usage to the vehicles they drive, the equipment they use, and the waste they produce. Little changes across the business can result in a smaller footprint. With most staff needing to use some form of technology, organisations should also consider their technology's impact on the environment. Employees working in the field often use rugged technology, but is it better or worse for the environment?

Rugged Vs Non-Rugged Technology

Rugged technology is hardware designed to perform in harsh conditions and environments. Non-rugged or consumer technology is designed for indoor usage where the devices aren't subject to as many outdoor risks, including dust, extreme temperatures, water, and shock. Rugged technology includes tablets, laptops, smartphones, and wearables, and businesses with employees working in the field often invest in these to ensure the devices last longer and are fit for outdoor usage. 


E-waste, created by consumers and businesses, has alarming statistics. The discarded e-waste averaged 7.3kg for every man, woman, and child on Earth in 2019, with only 17.4% of the world’s e-waste collected and recycled. 

E-waste is an environmental and health hazard because some of it contains toxic additives and substances such as mercury. These toxic substances can leach into the environment when discarded.  

Electronics and technology generate a large volume of e-waste because of its short life span. With technology improving so fast, electronics have accelerated operating speeds, enhanced graphics, and increased storage capacity with every model. A desktop computer has an average lifespan of four years, while a laptop computer has only three years. Moreover, the lifespan may be cut short if the device is used for more than eight hours per day or is subject to less-than-ideal conditions. 

A rugged laptop has a lifespan of about five years. When you consider how many devices a business may own and how a rugged laptop can last almost twice as long, the organisation is making a considerable dent in the amount of e-waste produced. If the devices are used in harsh conditions, a consumer laptop, tablet, or mobile phone most likely wouldn’t last anywhere near the average time, so the e-waste savings of buying rugged devices is even greater. A new consumer device taken on-site may only last hours if a speck of dust gets in or it's left in the mount in a hot car. It’s not just the device that gets thrown out, but all the accessories and batteries that go with it. Buying better quality products that last twice as long will always be better value for money and a more sustainable choice - fewer resources and fewer repairs.

Eco-Friendly Materials

Some rugged device manufacturers have switched to eco-friendly materials. Recycled plastics are being used in the devices rather than virgin materials to reduce the environmental footprint of device manufacturing. Organisations are encouraging tech manufacturers to utilise recycled materials and use fewer resources in the packaging.

Transport Kilometres

Of the surveyed businesses that use rugged tech, 91% claim they have seen a reduction in long-term costs, with savings on repairs and replacements. That’s way fewer devices that need carrying to and from the site. A broken device on a remote site can clock up hundreds of kilometres travelling to the nearest repair centre, and on top of it, replacement parts need to be manufactured and held at these centres. With rugged technology, fewer parts are in need because they are far less likely to call for repair. Often, the time and cost implicated mean the consumer device isn’t worth repairing, and it’s thrown away.    

Multifunctional Devices Equals Few Resources

Rugged tech is designed to do many tasks. In the past, a field or factory worker may have had a walkie-talkie, a phone, and a tablet. A rugged device can eliminate the need for multiple devices with an all-in-one solution. Now, workers can use their rugged smartphone or tablet to scan barcodes with point-of-sale software, use the push-to-talk capability, make calls from remote locations, and handle large volumes of data - all with one piece of technology. One device means fewer resources and less carbon emissions required to produce multiple devices.   

With expansion slots on a rugged laptop, workers don’t need a new device to undertake a new task, such as barcode reading. The same brand and device type can work for multiple people across the organisation. With long-life batteries, a worker can pass the device to a colleague doing a different role during the next shift and know that the device is fit for purpose. 


The security of data is today's number one concern for many organisations across the world. The cyber attacks are getting more sophisticated, so it’s likely that data security will stay high on the priority list. 

With the high-profile data breaches in Australia over the last few years, companies are spending significant time and money to reduce the risk of their system getting hacked. Rugged devices are less susceptible to cyber attacks than consumer devices; these allow organisations to lock down applications that an employee doesn’t need and can utilise the highest level of security that isn’t available to consumer devices. Unlike rugged devices, if a consumer device is lost or stolen, the thief can access emails, contacts, text messages, and company data, risking corporate security.  

If you’re looking for the right rugged device that serves the purpose of your organisation and the technology’s impact on the environment, call our team for assistance on 1300 131 933 or get in touch online

Category: News