Q&A: Tips For Improving Enterprise Mobile Device Battery Monitoring
Battery life is a crucial challenge for mobile workers everywhere. Keeping devices or backup batteries charged so that work can continue uninterrupted is a distraction, and battery failure is a frequent cause of lost productivity. We asked Walt Chantlos, ProServices National Sales Manager at Panasonic, about what companies can do to better manage battery issues and make battery easier for IT managers.
Q: Battery life is something we don’t often think about, but when issues arise it can create headaches for both users and IT managers. What is the business impact of battery issues?
Walt Chantlos: Based on findings of the third annual State of Enterprise Mobility study from our partner B2M Solutions, 77% of IT workers stated that batteries do not last an entire shift, and 66% of mobile workers say they experience battery life issues at least once a week. Over half of those surveyed say that when they get a support ticket related to battery issues, they replace either the battery or the entire device itself.
Furthermore, 85% say they schedule proactive battery swaps to prevent future problems, and 92% admit they replace healthy batteries. Other significant issues experienced were poor network connectivity and mobile apps crashing. All in all, about half of IT and mobile workers say that mobile device issues increased costs, hurt worker productivity and increased worker stress. We also know from research that, over a five-year period, 80% of the cost of running mobility in a company is related to workers having problems. That leaves 20% for buying the devices, buying the software applications you need, and deploying them. Resolving any portion of those trouble issues generates real payback.
Q: How long should a battery charge last for someone using a mobile device for work?
A: That really depends on the design of the battery itself as well as the device and what you’re doing with it. Consumer-grade mobile devices with full-time network connectivity and running work apps might see anywhere from 3 to 6 hours of runtime. Many Panasonic TOUGHBOOK devices can be equipped with high capacity, user-replaceable batteries to extend usable life to approximately 12 to 16 hours, so drivers can make it through a day’s deliveries and field service or public safety personnel can work uninterrupted for a full shift without stopping to charge.
Q: What can people do to avoid unexpected battery problems in the field, on the road or in the warehouse?
A: All lithium-ion batteries degrade over time and will need to be replaced for devices that are kept in service for multiple years. Many device providers offer only a six-month warranty on batteries, so that tells you something. We recommend replacing the battery proactively when it gets to 50% of usable life, which puts it close to 50% of it’s original capacity.
Q: So how can you tell when a battery meets that threshold?
A: Great question, that’s a common challenge — knowing when that is. We had one customer that would arbitrarily replace the battery any time a device came in for service, for whatever reason. Their thinking was that it would prevent a problem from happening next year or the year after, but in the process, they were replacing perfectly good batteries at unnecessary expense. What they didn’t have was a way to assess battery health so they could make an informed decision.
Helping customers get a real-time view of battery conditions is one of the reasons we developed our Smart Service solution powered by B2M. The Smart Battery Monitoring feature monitors batteries in deployed devices and emails an alert. This avoids the expense of stockpiling replacement batteries because you have plenty of time to order a new battery from our warehouse.
Q: What other challenges have customers reported?
A: We had an electric utility customer that was experiencing substandard battery life. Their devices weren’t making it through a full shift, forcing workers to stop and charge and disrupting their day. With the full suite of Smart Service features, including the devices themselves and the applications, they were able to quickly isolate the problem down to one app that was not performing well on battery life and caused abnormally high battery discharge rates. This led to poor device battery life and a sub-par user experience. With help from Panasonic, the organization used their mobile device management (MDM) platform to deploy an updated version of the app, and the problem went away.
Q: You mentioned battery warranties earlier. What is the warranty on Panasonic TOUGHBOOK batteries?
A: Our standard battery warranty is for one year. We also offer a new program called the Smart Battery Warranty that includes the battery monitoring program that IT can leverage. Under this program, we warranty batteries for three years and include next-business-day replacement for batteries that drop below 50% capacity during normal use. Over the lifetime of a Panasonic TOUGHBOOK, the program is designed to reduce costs associated with battery failure and replacement. Plus, you get that real-time look into what’s happening with your batteries at all times. By being proactive about battery replacement, you can avoid unplanned downtime and increase mobile workforce productivity, delivering a positive ROI on your investment in the program.
To learn more about the Smart Battery warranty program and Smart Suite solutions, contact our ProServices team: ProServices[at]us.panasonic.com.