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