From working in the pouring rain to having to climb or crawl into tight, dark, dusty spaces, field workers frequently find themselves in some tough work environments. Fieldwork technology, such as rugged tablets, is now enabling these workers to be more productive — and delivering seamless workflows and greater insights to the enterprise.

According to VDC Research, rugged tablet shipments are expected to expand from fewer than 350,000 devices globally in 2016 to 517,000 devices by 2022. While a majority of these rugged tablets are Windows-based, VDC sees shipments of rugged Android devices growing rapidly during this period. Rugged tablets are set to become core equipment in the field worker’s toolbox, across industries as diverse as trucking, aviation, manufacturing, retail, utilities and public safety.

For these industries and for fieldworkers in general, the rugged device offers a number of advantages. Here’s a look at how rugged tablets are improving productivity and streamlining operations in a variety of industries.

Transportation Industry Gains Logistics and Performance Insights

The introduction of ruggedized mobile devices has changed the operational landscape for the transportation industry. In the past, tracking the hours of service and location of drivers has been challenging and problematic. Transportation fleets need better insights to improve fuel efficiency, compliance and track proof of delivery.

Today, rugged devices not only allow fleet managers to track hours of service, driving habits and behavior behind the wheel — they also make it easy for drivers to complete Electronic Visual Inspection Reports and other tasks around the truck. A rugged device such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab Active2 can handle the elements, including rain and dust, as well as the vibrations of the road — and through the use of facial recognition and a capacitive S Pen, drivers can conveniently use the device while wearing gloves.

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Additionally, with LTE and Wi-Fi capabilities, drivers can use the device for navigation assistance with access to real-time updates on road conditions, approved routes and geofence capabilities to direct trucks to the correct entry gate and loading docks — all of which enhance driver productivity and reduce fuel costs by avoiding excessive idling or route finding.

Airlines Take Off With Rugged Tablets

In the airline industry, maintenance is a critical cost component: flights delayed for maintenance are hugely costly. By using maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) software, airlines and maintenance contractors can better manage the process across their fleets. To implement a digital MRO solution, a rugged mobile device needs to withstand being exposed to drops, shocks, vibration, rain, dust and freezing temperatures.

When passenger safety is at stake, security is critical too. Using a rugged device like the Galaxy Tab Active2 that can deliver enterprise-grade security gives added peace of mind. With Samsung Knox, the Tab Active2 is protected from the chip on up. Devices can also be “locked down” using Knox Configure (which is licensed separately) to ensure they are used only for their intended purpose, or access can be blocked when the tablet is outside a designated area.

Even in an environment less exposed to the outdoor elements, such as onboard commercial airplanes, airlines are finding that rugged tablets for in-flight entertainment and POS systems are often a better choice than consumer devices. Rugged devices are better able to handle constant bumps and accidental impacts that occur as part of in-flight usage — thus limiting financial hits from out-of-order tablets and passenger frustration when devices aren’t working.

Warehouse Management Looks to Rugged Devices

Warehouse management and operations have used mobile devices to help with a number of tasks, including to track inventory stock, shipping and inventory consolidation. However, a rising number of warehouse managers are looking to upgrade their legacy mobile solutions to provide greater flexibility.

The Internet of Things is also offering new potential to use devices equipped with sensors to make their warehouse operations truly smart — allowing them to better meet customer demands for fast shipping while lowering costs.

Rugged devices built to withstand harsh environments are becoming an increasingly appealing option for warehouse IT decision-makers. According to research from Ivanti and VDC Research, non-rugged devices have a failure rate of 19.8 percent compared to 3.8 percent for rugged devices. The report also reveals that device failure costs an average of 30-40 minutes of worker downtime.

Enabling Asset Management in Any Environment

Tracking assets and equipment in the enterprise is a constant challenge. That goes double for businesses working in extreme environments, heavy-duty manufacturing or large remote workforces. Often, the wear and tear on expensive capital investments is even higher for them, and consumer-grade technology can’t stand up to conditions in the field.

For smarter asset management, the Tab Active2 combined with IBM’s Maximo Anywhere solution lets enterprises equip their workforce with tools that better track equipment and reduce the cost and complexities of daily operations — even when they’re in hot, cold or other inclement conditions.

Protecting the Public — and Private Data

Public safety agencies are also embracing the use of hand-held and wrist-worn mobile devices in the field, including using smartphones, smartwatches and tablets. Rugged tablets provide an ideal tool for incident management for first-responders in the field. The tablet becomes a mobile command and control center for field commanders to ensure constant communication with dispatch and proper management of personnel and assets.

While many smartphones now feature IP68 certification, indicating a level of protection against water and dust, most are still vulnerable to drops. The Tab Active2 has MIL-STD-810G certification in addition to IP68 certification, ensuring the level of durability and ruggedness needed for public safety use cases. And with Knox Workspace containerization and biometric authentication technology, first responders can be confident that any sensitive data stays accessible to those who need it and protected from those who don’t.

As the number of mobile workers continues to expand across industries, more will be turning to fieldworker technology to improve worker productivity, lower costs and enable better data collection and insights. Having rugged devices that can handle being in the field is a critical component of enabling greater field worker mobility and productivity.

Learn more about how the Samsung Galaxy Tab Active2 can help solve your toughest business challenges.