Military Toughbooks/Toughpads are designed to endure the harshest conditions possible. To maintain and improve what Panasonic describes as a “tough advantage” over other mobile computers and tablets, technicians subject all new models to rigorous tests, deliberately damaging more than 1,000 devices every year.
Not only does this extreme testing ensure that Panasonic’s new mobile devices meet the company’s ultra-high quality standards, it also provides data that can help engineers further improve the reliability and durability of new designs.
Since military Toughbooks/Toughpads are designed specifically for use in the field, whether on the ground, at sea or in the air, it is imperative that these mobile computers exceed the requirements of US military standards (MIL-STD).
Just How Extreme is Extreme Testing?
All units go through at least 500 checks and tests throughout the manufacturing process. These includes extreme tests for resistance to:
- Drops and shocks
- Liquid and moisture
- Dust and other particles
- Very high and low temperatures
- Physical and atmospheric pressure
- Electromagnetic energy
- Hazardous locations
Additionally, all the keyboards incorporated in Toughbook computers are guaranteed to last for 25 million keystrokes. Hinges must last for at least 50,000 cycles.
Drops and Shocks
Under normal circumstances dropping a laptop from any height is likely to result in the LCD display breaking and possibly the hard disk failing. But Panasonic’s military Toughbooks/Toughpads are tested to make sure this doesn’t happen.
Tested in accordance with MIL-STD-810G’s transit drop test, Toughbook computers are dropped multiple times onto concrete covered with a steel plate that is covered with 2 inch-thick plywood – first 26 times from 4 feet; and then 26 times from 5 feet; the lastly 26 times from 6 feet. Units are inspected visually after each fall, and a functional boot-up is done to ensure the computer is still functional. Even though the Standard allows up to five devices to be used for the test, Panasonic uses only one of its fully rugged models for one test.
Liquid and Moisture
Most computers “die” when liquid is spilt on them. But military Toughbooks/Toughpads need to keep going, not only if there are drips and drops of water, coffee or juice, but also if they are subject to spills from oil and some chemicals.
The tests used to ensure “liquid resistance” are also done in accordance with MIL-STD-810G, and are intended to protect mobile devices from spray and “blowing rain.”
Generally fully rugged Toughbooks are tested for half an hour with simulated rainfall at 5.8 inches per hour and wind that blows at 70 mph.
Resistance to humidity requires similar features to resistance to liquid, however there are tests that focus specifically on high humid conditions.
MIL-STD-810G has an “aggravated” humidity test that is conducted over 10 days, during which the temperature varies from 86 to 140 deg F, with relative humidity that remains at 95 percent.
It isn’t only when vehicles thunder through rough terrain that mobile devices are subjected to extreme vibrations. Even factories, shops and other supposedly stationary environments suffer from vibrations of various types.
There are several different procedures that MIL-STD-810G specifies for vibration testing, and to further increase the challenge, Panasonic tests in additional MIL-STD categories. Additionally, they do voluntary testing in accordance with American Society for Testing and Materials International (ASTM) standards for vehicle vibrations.
Dust and Other Particles
The need for particle resistance is vital, because dust and dirt somehow have a way of invading every possible tiny exposed space in computers. You don’t have to throw a mobile device into sand for this to happen; it’s generally widespread airborne particles that do the damage.
For this reason all fully rugged military Toughbooks/Toughpads are tested for resistance to both sand and dust at a temperature of up to 140 deg F. Devices only pass the test if there is absolutely no blockage or bind of moving parts, and if the device doesn’t malfunction in any way at all.
Panasonic uses sand and silica flour for its “dust ingress” tests.
It isn’t only temperature that military Toughbooks/Toughpads need to be able to withstand, but also extreme swings in temperature. For this reason there is a battery of tests that mobile devices must undergo to ensure that they are heat resistant, both in terms of operation and storage. Thermal shock tests are also carried out in three different cycles, and fully rugged devices are subjected to freeze/thaw tests to ascertain performance related to rapid temperature change.
Altitude tests to ascertain the effects of atmospheric pressure are performed on all fully rugged products that are intended for mounting in vehicles. They must withstand the pressures that cargo in military aircraft would be subjected to – namely 40,000 feet. And as if this is not enough, they must also be able to withstand extreme physical pressure, particular to the casing of the devices.
All Panasonic’s military Toughbooks/Toughpads are manufactured with all-magnesium casings that are 20 times stronger than the more common ABS plastic normally used for commercial laptops and tablets. This is what protects the LCD screen, which is obviously a critical component – and an expensive one at that.
Full-rugged devices must be able to withstand at least 300 lbs of pressure.
Excessive electromagnetic energy is a common cause of disruption to the operation of electronic devices, including laptops and tablets. The only way to avoid this is to prevent possible disruptions and make sure that devices operating in the same vicinity are compatible.
Panasonic carries out electromagnetic interference (EMI) and electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) testing to overcome problems caused by electromagnetic radiation crossing the many different frequencies.
Ultimately, to ensure that military Tougbooks/Toughpads really can do the job, Panasonic tests its laptops and tablets to ensure they may be operated safely even when flammable and potentially explosive substances are present in the environment.
So if you want a military-grade laptop or tablet, you can be sure that a Panasonic Toughbook or Toughpad will meet your needs. But to find the best model for your needs might take a bit more time and effort. If this is what you are looking for, contact Mooring Tech for guidance and friendly advice.