While Return on Investment (ROI) is a major consideration when choosing a rugged Android tablet to be used in the field, calculating that ROI must take into account the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of the device. An off the shelf tablet may seem to have an attractive price point, but shortcomings such as functionality, ingress protection (IP) rating, ruggedness, usability, and lack of long term availability can significantly skew the ROI and TCO calculation for an off-the shelf vs. a custom tablet design. Considerations like TCO and ROI often involve nonobvious considerations.

Rugged must be designed for use in industry-specific environments by providing users with the right tools, access and user experience from the device to the application. That means starting with a detailed and well explored understanding of user needs, tablet use cases, and the environment of deployment.

Development Process Considerations

Computing power, OS, interoperability, connectivity and application compatibility must be determined through the lens of who, where, when and, how the device will be used. For example, companies must consider the changes in OS that are happening such as the rise of Android and the decline of Microsoft OS in mobile devices other than laptops. This was the focus of a recent Information Age article discussing Microsoft’s announcement of stopping support for Windows 10 Mobile this year (2018).

This has led to Android becoming the top contender for an operating system compatible with the rugged environment. But there are many other questions that a business must ask to develop a sound rugged device development roadmap.

  • How where and when do you plan to use the rugged devices?
  • Which business operations must they support?
  • What features and applications must it support?
  • What unique interfaces and equipment are required to meet the application?
  • How much control is required over the configuration and updates of the operating system and application software?
  • What are the connectivity and wireless access needs?
  • What are the security concerns and requirements?
  • What are the timetables for needed use and how does that intersect with the development timeline?
  • Must the software environment be modified to meet application and regulatory requirements?
  • What industry, safety, and government regulations and certifications are required, and how do these requirements impact the design and implementation of the device?

These and other challenges in planning handheld device design require working closely with a proven custom Android tablet manufacturer that has dealt with broad array of situations needs and industries. The development process for an industry and company-specific rugged Android tablet requires careful consideration and planning in terms of features and accessibility and what you are likely to need tomorrow.

TCO and ROI: The lifespan of a well-designed custom rugged device is much longer than a commercial device. A correctly designed device will be manufacturable for a period of many years, potentially 10 or more, in a stable configuration. Avoidance of early obsolescence or unexpected modifications avoid unexpected and costly engineering expense, improving TCO and ROI. By working closely with the design team, companies can reliably determine the total costs of ownership, and potentially future-proofing a while amortizing associated costs over the lifespan of the usability of the rugged device.

Processing Speed: This is a major factor as slow processing can lead to higher costs and lower productivity. For example, retrieving lost seconds devoted to scan and load operations happening countless times a day can translate to hours gained daily, monthly, quarterly and annually.

Connectivity: Reliable connectivity can span networking, GPS access, data transfers and a host of needs common to rugged Android tablet use across industries. Maintaining reliable, always-on connections for remote workers in challenging environments is a development decision that spans design, feature, OS, component selection, CPU and interoperability considerations.

Testing: Developing an initial prototype capable of use in the field to verify use cases is the best way to identify and resolve potential issues early. This is followed by formal qualification and certification testing to meet industry and regulatory standards. Once testing is complete, deployment can commence.

From Development to Deployment and Support

Development of a custom tablet design should always start with rigorous input from the people that will be using it in the field. That will determine the final design, features and functionality. This will pay off in the deployment phase as it helps to shape and minimize the need for training.

The support pipeline must be highly efficient with internal company managers and users having access to standardized processes and categories for fulfilling support needs. To avoid the challenges associated with field deployment it’s imperative to keep everyone in the development cycle from the beginning. This makes for a better solution that meets the needs of the users, which improves the ROI of the investment.

A skilled rugged device development partner like InHand can provide support, resolving any issues efficiently and reducing downtime in the field. As a custom Android tablet manufacturer, it’s imperative to bring extensive industry knowledge and a proven platform as a starting point. Our Modified COTS approach and tight partnership with our customers pave the way for cost effective and accurate rugged Android tablet solution design, development, and production that meets the user’s needs both today and tomorrow.