What Is Rugged

What Does Rugged Mean?

Mobile computing is a broad industry. Very often, we hear about rugged devices including rugged computers, rugged tablets, smartphones etc. But what is rugged – and what does it mean?

Simply put, rugged is a state in a device that lets it keep operating under every single condition, including the extreme conditions. Also, this is not a one-time-only feature, but during the life of each device which can vary from 3 to 5 years.

However, a rugged computer or device is a relative term. Meaning that, what is rugged for one person may not be for another. If we take a mobile computer in a warehouse for an example, it is a device that can be exposed to a lot of dust – but won’t face some extreme temperatures, coldness or rain. However, rugged devices are a must in some industries – for example, a forester needs a rugged device to operate in the woods under extreme conditions such as rain, water, dirt and difference in temperatures.

Rugged: Why It Is The Right Tool For The Right Job

Mobile computers have nowadays advanced. This means that people use them in a variety of industries. That being said, they are used for different work but mean one thing – you must find the right tool for each job.

Wise buyers nowadays research, see and evaluate what kind of computers they need for their work purposes before they buy them. Everything from the specifications, features and whether they are able to handle the work done is important.

Rugged computers, tablets and devices can extend the performance of the work tool as a whole. For example, selecting a unit that is more rugged than you actually need will ensure the right protection – in extreme conditions that can be more severe than planned.

The Definition Of Rugged

There are different types of rugged devices. However, the three most common categories and specifications that matter when choosing a device are:

  • Its temperature range
  • The MIL-STD-810G (formerly MIL-STD-810-F) test certificate
  • The IP certificate

Every official rugged product has these specifications in the Product Data Sheet. But what do they mean?

Well, the temperature range defines the availability of the rugged unit to withstand certain temperatures. Temperatures under and above the prescribed one in the temperature range will cause the unit to fail, accordingly.

MIL-STD-810G on the other side is a US Army Developmental Test Command. It undertakes different environmental tests and its mission is to prove that the rugged equipment is qualified enough and meeting the standards for its specifications. This test command was designed and developed in order to test the military equipment that is qualified to make the device withstand in the field. What started as a military test led the MIL-STD-810G to be an official testing unit for rugged products including tablets, computers and other devices?

The IP certificate stands for Ingress Protection. This is practically the level of environmental protection of the electrical equipment against the solids and liquids. Basically, it can tell what amount or size of solids the rugged device can withstand after they get inside its components – and whether they can get inside it in the first place and eventually damage the device. The international standard for IP is IEC 60529.

The MIL-STD Testing Methods In A Nutshell

The MIL-STD certificate undertakes 24 very important testing methods, each of which covering a different and particular environment for the others. They can include the ability of the rugged device to perform at a high altitude, its ability to survive the mechanical shock etc.

Basically, the more methods a rugged device passes within the MIL-STD test command, the more rugged it is and hence qualified for the right position. The most rugged examples of units in the world have been the BATL BT67 ultra rugged tablets. They have scored between 8 and 10 in this testing.

Another important thing when evaluating a data sheet are the methods that apply to the situation. For example, if you are working at over 10,000 feet of elevation, you should have a rugged device that is tested to the MIL-STD methods that cover the altitude. Similar is for rapidly changing temperatures, dust, water, shock etc.

The Definition OF IP – And What Score Do You Need

Usually, the IP test ratings are displayed as a 2-digit number.

In this number, the first digit focuses on the level of protection against dust, while the second one reflects to the level of protection of the rugged device against liquids (water).

The Definition OF IP – And What Score Do You Need

Usually, the IP test ratings are displayed as a 2-digit number.

In this number, the first digit focuses on the level of protection against dust, while the second one reflects to the level of protection of the rugged device against liquids (water).

IP Rate

Technically, the dust spec has seven different levels, from 0 to 7 accordingly. The liquid level on the other side has 9 different levels, from 0 to 9. However, every rugged computer or device has a dust protection of 5 and water protection of at least 4 by default. Despite all that, the digits and levels can make a big difference. For example, a dust level of 5 means that occasionally, dust can get into the unit – while the dust level 6 refers to a completely dust-proof device.

Another example shows us that an IP67 rated unit is completely dust-proof and can immerse in water for 30 minutes to a depth of 1 meter. This unit is the perfect fit for a dusty or dirty environment or wherever it is possible to drop the unit into a body of water including a lake, stream or small river. On the other hand, an IP54 level ensures protection only with limited dust and water entry and is not entirely immersed.

Additionally, there are many rugged device manufacturers that use the term IP68 as the level of a rugged device. This level however requires additional detail for its true meaning to be evaluated. For example, if the IP67 is immiscible in liquid (water), the IP68 should be no different, right?

The idea behind this is simple – there is an extra detail that separates the IP67 from IP6 level – which is the depth and length of the time of the immersion. In other words, if the IP67’s 1 meter and 30 minutes water level is not good enough for you to buy the rugged device, the IP68 offers better features when it comes to the water protection.

Rugged Computers & Extreme Environments

In the end, knowing what are the specifications, features and information about a rugged device will let you see how one rugged computer functions – both in the field and in the long run. Therefore, specifications, test standards and certificates really matter when it comes to picking the best unit for a particular situation.

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