What exactly does rugged mean?

Lately, the word “rugged” has been taking the industry by a storm, it almost seems like another buzzword that we need to look out for.

You’ve probably seen the word “rugged” when searching for a laptop or tablet, and sometimes even phones. For many, this seems to add more confusion – especially in a world where new gadgets and technology seem to spring up every single day. The question becomes; is this a piece of technology my company needs?

Taking a deeper dive into the definition might help speed up your decision.

The general definition

Rugged, in its shortest form, basically means durable and robust. Therefore, when you pick up a rugged device, especially a rugged tablet, you can be sure that it’s hard-wearing and able to protect against harsher environments.

However, rugged can be used to describe cars or clothes. Thus, this definition more than likely won’t help with your decision.

What really makes a rugged device so much better for your company, and how does it differ to consumer devices?

As a rule of thumb, if the only thing you know about a device is that it is merely “rugged,” this may not be enough. Every tablet or PC is exceptionally different, and may not reach your specific needs.  

Defining the different levels of rugged devices

There are three levels of ruggedisation – semi-rugged, fully-rugged, and ultra-rugged. For obvious reasons, the latter seems the most appealing, however, this might not be necessary for your needs. These levels are generally defined by how much damage your device can handle – they’re not entirely standardised terms, though.

Semi rugged is often referred to as “business-rugged.” These types of devices will have the same components as a device that you would find in your home – but they’re often better protected. The perfect example of this is a spill-resistant keyboard in offices, however, constant exposure and hardship would eventually break the keyboard, a coffee spill every now and then doesn’t do any damage.

Fully-rugged devices are designed and tested to withstand precise military-grade specifications. These high-quality rugged devices can withstand extreme temperatures, shocks, and exposure to water and dust. For workers on construction sites or in warehouses, these devices are necessary. A standard commercial device wouldn’t last long.

Ultra-rugged devices are designed to withstand the absolute worst conditions you could imagine. They’re practically indestructible and could survive in a blizzard – if you ever find yourself in that situation. Companies will rarely need an ultra-rugged device.

They protect externally

Rugged devices are well known for safeguarding externally. As we briefly mentioned the majority of them will provide a level of protection against certain hardships. For instance, delivery drivers will use rugged devices – helping them to protect from vibration, drops, and even water from any heavy rain.

In warehouses and construction sites, it’s necessary that electronic devices are rugged. Not only because of any accidental drops – but also vibrations, and dust. All harsh conditions, like these examples, will very likely break a commercial device or cause it to run slower.

It’s not, as many have suggested, just a “protective case” either. Rugged devices are crafted and designed in different ways – by using more robust materials, they go way beyond a protective case. Instead, they prove to be almost indestructible in harsh conditions.

They protect internally

If you are planning on simply buying a protective case for your current commercial device, it still won’t work in the same way.

If you subject your device to constant vibration, heat, or trauma – although it may look completely fine externally, internally damage is still occurring. Over time, the device will run slower and slower, until it is unbearable to use.

Rugged devices are built differently internally – ensuring that they are protected from the inside out. For instance, they will be made with a solid-state drive rather than a mechanical hard drive. This ensures that, even if you do drop your device, it won’t result in any internal damage.

Additional features

Rugged devices are very often thought of as business devices – they have business needs in mind at all time. Unlike your standard tablet or phone, which has individual people in mind.

For this reason, rugged devices are very often equipped with the best additional features, as the producers best understand the needs of businesses.

For instance, many rugged devices come with a glare-reducing feature. As many of the devices are used outside, rugged device screens are still readable, even with a harsh glow on them. The battery life will also much be much longer, to ensure that it lasts the entire shift. Likewise, if your rugged device will be placed on a counter – they very often have a complementarity base to make the transition seamless.

Rugged devices are often compatible with business systems too. For example, POS systems – which are amazing for retail and hospitality businesses. All in all, rugged devices span much further than just durability. They have enterprises in mind. Thus, their features accommodate much better for your needs.

Though this isn’t necessarily a part of the “rugged” definition, it is something that you can expect with rugged devices. Always look at their specific features, and what systems they are compatible with.

The different specifications

All rugged devices come with specific ratings or specifications. Understanding what these specifications mean can help when you’re purchasing. The most common are:

  • IP rating
  • Temperature range
  • Drop height
  • MIL-STD-810g (military standard testing)

IP – Ingress Protection rating refers to the level of protection against solid particles. Things like dust and liquids are the everyday hardships devices will experience. The IP rating can get as high as IP68 – this means that there’s full protection against dust and water. However, it’s rare that any business needs this level.

Temperature range – When the temperature goes beyond the norm, your device should be able to operate as usual. This refers to both hot and cold temperatures. Normally the range stands at about -25 – +70°C.

Drop height – This refers to how high you can drop the device, from various angles. To test this, the device is literally dropped from various points. Most rugged devices can safely handle a 4ft drop.

MIL-STD-810g – The device must pass various environmental tests, only then will it be qualified for military standard testing. Not all rugged devices will have this, but all of them will have various military tests performed.

Military testing is based on about 29 methods. This ranges from high altitude to mechanically induced shock. If your rugged device has this, you can rest assured that it is a robust, durable device.

The benefits of having a rugged device

It’s easy to see why companies benefit from a rugged device when presented with all the facts above. In short:

  • They save time and money in the long run
  • They’re more versatile and flexible
  • They’re more trustworthy
  • Less downtime in work

Should I get a rugged device or a non-rugged device

While it’s true, the average person will not need a rugged device – unless you’re clumsy and find yourself in harsh environments a lot. However, for businesses, rugged devices are the better option. Your working environment has many more risks and hardships – whether it’s dust or vibrations.

Even in retail stores or restaurants, the battery life and protection against drops make the rugged device a much better option.

Many rugged devices will also fit well with the company’s existing software and systems. This allows ingredient lists and stock checks all to be available, with the click of a finger.

As we said, rugged devices are much more than just a protective case. While it may be tempting to choose the cheaper option (commercial), your TCO is much lower with rugged devices. Many companies view rugged tablets as a worthy investment – one that will enhance their business.

Picking the right rugged device for you

As much as we have defined “rugged,” we still can’t define every single model and make. There is an array of rugged devices on the market – finding the right one for you requires you to consider your businesses’ personal needs.

For instance, a construction site will need a different rugged device to a restaurant. The operating systems inside will also differ – but the individual protection is universal.

How much protection you need will ultimately change your decision.

Taking a dive into the definition of rugged will always be beneficial when deciding if you need a rugged device. Knowing the basics is always beneficial when making a substantial investment.

In its purest form – if you’re looking for a durable, hard-wearing device for your company, a rugged device is definitely the one for you.

However, it’s fair to say that every individual device has its own personal definition. While one may excel in retail work, the other could be perfect for warehouse workers. Taking a look into the specifications, compatible systems, and benefits will help you discover the perfect one.