The rugged mobile computing industry has, in recent years, introduced more and better products to transform and revolutionize industries as diverse as warehouse management and retail. These devices meet a variety of needs and come with a host of accessories, allowing businesses to customize rugged tablet PC systems for many uses. In a word, rugged mobile tablet PCs are cool. Of course, that is until the battery stops working.
However, batteries and the life of a battery play a crucial role in the effectiveness of rugged tablet PC sytems. If they don't work, then your operations come to a grinding halt. You can take steps to extend the life of your rugged tablet PC batteries so your mobile operations don't get left in the dark.
Extending the life of the batteries on your rugged mobile equipment means putting a targeted and purposeful strategy into place. Too many companies only think about battery management after batteries die. By then it's too late. The time to implement battery management strategies is during the early stages of mobile technology deployment so battery management becomes part of the regular protocol and routine instead of an afterthought.
Previous generations of rugged tablet PCs and other rugged mobile devices relied primarily on nickel-cadmium batteries, or NiCad batteries. NiCad batteries were notorious for suffering from "memory effect" due to overcharging.
The most current mobile technologies use either nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) batteries or lithium-ion (LI-ion) batteries. NiMH are a good, less expensive battery alternative for rugged tablet PCs. LI-ion batteries have a better energy-to-weight ratio and a low self-discharge rate making them a better choice for mobile operations.
The average battery for a mobile device should last for a full shift. Several factors can affect the life of a battery including the operating system, wireless connections and other peripherals and accessories.
Getting the Most from a Battery
There are several ways you can extend the life of a battery for a rugged tablet PC and other rugged mobile devices. First and foremost, take advantage of the power management tools embedded in the mobile devices you employ. For example, you can program the device to power down after a certain amount of idleness and have different settings for work hours and idle hours.
Another easy way to extend the life of a battery is to turn down both the brightness and the volume. Both place unnecessary strain on the battery and are relatively quick and easy fixes.
What makes rugged mobile devices so convenient — their wireless capabilities — places a large strain on the battery. Wireless devices left in a constant "on" state continuously broadcast a signal even when no data is coming across the network. This can be a big drain on the batteries. Rugged tablet PCs do include the ability to adjust the wireless LAN settings and mitigate this power drain. For example, a device could use a lower power signal when among dense wireless coverage and more power when coverage is weak.
Employing these battery management strategies will extend the life of mobile technology batteries. But, all batteries eventually lose their charge all together. Today's mobile device batteries last an average of 500 recharging cycles before they cease being effective. Use the built-in battery monitoring tools to periodically assess a battery's condition. Once it loses more than 50 percent of its recharge capacity, it's time to get new batteries.
Maximizing your mobile rugged tablet PC system means going beyond employee training and a systematic approach to using technology. Get the most life out of your mobile devices by getting the most life from your batteries as well.
The Ruggedized Computing Blog
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