The “Walking Worker:” What Mobile Solution Do You Deploy Them With?
I have been fielding a lot of questions from utility customers lately regarding which form-factor is right for their mobile workforce – most recently at DistribuTECH 2009 in San Diego.
These questions have lately focused on what type of device to deploy with their growing number of “walking workers.” These are individuals who are completely mobile for large parts of their day and have to operate in environments hostile to technology such as rain, dust, bright light, vibration and extreme temperatures. These environments are typically found with utility meter readers, line repairmen and utility vegetation management personnel. Besides being rugged enough for the work environment, these workers need a device that is light weight, fully functional and integrated with a host of practical features.
A new class of rugged ultra-mobile PCs (UMPC) is finally providing these workers with a functional mobile computing solution that combines the mobility of a handheld with the functionality of a laptop. Although these devices fit into the palm of the user’s hands, they integrate barcode scanners, RFID, GPS, cameras and hot-swappable batteries, improving device functionality and driving productivity.
Walking workers also need reliable mobile Internet connectivity offered by WiFi and mobile broadband for tasks such as remote water management and central database access. The also a rugged package for maximum durability for the environment in which they work.
Panasonic’s Toughbook U1 is a mobile solution for utility workers with all of the features described above. If you’re interested in more information about the role of rugged UMPCs in the water and wastewater sector, check out this article in Water Utility Management.