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How to choose the correct mobile device for your inspection software

How to choose the correct mobile device for your inspection software

Now that you have decided to transition your inspections to the paperless system, there is one important element you have to sort out before you go ahead – the hardware that will run your inspection software.

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Having the correct mobile device is critical for performing rigorous, effective and accurate inspections; this is because every inspection application is tailored to the requirements of the industry or business and the mobile device should, therefore, complement the software, allowing inspectors to optimise their time spent performing inspections.

When making a decision on the most appropriate mobile device for your business, do consider these factors:

  1. Consumer Vs. Enterprise: Does the device need to be one that’s specifically made for industrial use in terms of both functionality and cost savings?
  2. Total Cost of Ownership (TCO): What’s the total cost of the mobile device over its expected life?
  3. Rugged/Non Rugged: Is the hardware suitable for use in a range of environments?
  4. Company Policy: Does the company have any preferences or previous experience in similar hardware and electronics?
  5. Screen Size: What is the optimal size for correct software use?
  6. Industry Grade Wi-Fi: Does the device need to be connected to the internet constantly?
  7. Ease of Use: Can employees learn and navigate the different functions of the hardware quickly and effectively?
  8. Accessories: Can the hardware be configured with additional features and adjusted for any specific reason?

Consumer Vs Enterprise

There are numerous reasons for your business to consider commercial/ enterprise grade mobile devices with features such as durability, security, maintenance support and hardware benefitting the operation through time and cost savings. Consumer grade devices, on the other hand, will have issues with data security, limited features and short product lifecycles.

Commercial or enterprise grade mobile devices are needed by many businesses to effectively conduct inspections using specific features not available on consumer grade devices, such as NFC (Near Field Communication) and RFID (Radio Frequency Identification); extended battery life and ability to swap batteries; Intrinsically Safe certifications (Zone 1 or Zone 2); durability i.e.

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IP (Ingress Protection) sealing; ability to include accessories such car mounts, lanyards and holsters; and dedicated bar code scanning.

Company policy

Companies are comfortable working with technologies that are compatible with their operating systems as it helps them better sync workflows and operations. When a new mobile device is introduced into the company, employees will need to be trained on using the device. But when employees are already familiar with the mobile technology, they can hit the ground running and begin inspections without any time wasted in training.

Device features

Different mobile devices come with different features and capabilities. Inspectors must determine what features are necessary for an effective inspection to be completed:

  1. Touch Screen: Ability to draw and make notes on the screen (e.g. using gloves, or in harsh conditions)
  2. Speech to Text: Ability to create and store notes verbally
  3. Camera Ability: Zoom and high resolution imagery
  4. Screen Size: Ideal screen dimensions to best host the software and operate
  5. Mobile Device Size: Convenience and mobility afforded by the device to suit the inspection task
  6. Storage: Ability to store large files and databanks

Rugged vs. Non-Rugged

When operating in the field, inspectors and their devices are often exposed to tough conditions that may cause damage. Consumer devices such as smartphones and tablets are simply not made for harsh conditions such as extreme temperatures or moisture exposure. On the other hand, industrial grade mobile devices provide more durability and robustness to inspectors. However, rugged cases can be used to protect consumer devices but users need to be aware of overheating issues.

By selecting a rugged mobile device, companies can save on Total Cost of Ownership in field operations as well as rugged deployments; have the flexibility to work in any environment, however harsh, without risking device failure; and increase productivity by enabling employees to focus on the tasks and inspections at hand.

Conclusion

The correct selection of mobile devices for field inspections will positively influence the productivity of employees as well as reduce device and wireless transmission failures. The size and scale of inspections can definitely play a role when choosing the correct hardware. 

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