People who work in the military have to be tough – which is why the mobile devices they use must be tough too, especially those that are used in the field. If military personnel can’t rely on their mobile devices wherever they are, regardless of environmental and other conditions, they could be severely comprised, and citizens could be too.
Panasonic Toughbook tablets and computers – Toughpads and Toughbooks – are designed for military use, and undergo rigorous testing to ensure they are fit for purpose. Ultimately, it is vital that the military personnel that use these devices can count on them to provide a powerful, durable computing solution, wherever they are, day or night.
What Are Military Standard Tests?
The US Department of Defense developed a number of military standards and specifications in 1962 for computerized devices that are used in adverse environmental conditions, in situations where stressors could have a negative effect on them. Then conditions include:
- Driving rain and powerful wind
- Strong vibrations that might be experienced in helicopters or off-road vehicles, or even in unpressurized cargo aircraft
- High altitudes
- Extreme temperatures, both hot and cold, including migration from one extreme to another
- Extreme humidity whether in a manufacturing plant or natural tropical environment
- Excessive exposure to dust and sand, including desert sandstorms
- Being dropped up to 72 inches (1.8 m)
There are many different military standards (MIL-STD) that cover technical and engineering requirements for various items, procedures, practices, processes and so on. The specific standard that covers the design and test criteria for computer devices mentioned above is MIL-STD-810G.
While the standard and tests MIL-STD-810G covers have been modified and changed over the years, it has remained the benchmark for validating the ruggedness of devices. If a device doesn’t pass the military standard tests, there is no guarantee that it will survive mission-critical jobs and circumstances.
Military Standard Tests for Toughbooks and Toughpads
There are a number of different tests specified in MIL-STD-810G. There are various methods and procedures that have to be followed. Critical tests include the:
- Blowing Rain Test that blasts the device with 70 mph winds and 5.8 inch (147 mm) of rain for 30 seconds while it is in operational mode. Procedure I is the important part of this test, while procedure III only tests vertically falling rain and drips.
- Vibration Test that simulates the kinds of vibrations first responders traveling in jeeps, trucks, tanks, ambulances, patrol cars, ambulances, fire engines, and helicopters experience.
- Altitude Test that is conducted while the device is still operational. The test simulates a height of 15,000 feet above sea level.
- High Temperature Test that is performed for 30 minutes, at a temperature of 140 °F (60 °C) while the device is in operational mode.
- Low Temperature Test that involves placing the device in a chilling -20 °F environment for 30 minutes while the device is powered on.
- Temperature Shock Test that tests the reliability of the device when it is moved between extreme temperatures, from as hot as 200 °F to as cold as -60 °F.
- Sand and Dust Resistance Test that involves blowing sand at the device for several hours at a temperature of 140 °F (60 °C).
- Humidity Test that simulates what would happen if the device was used in tropical weather conditions or in a plant or factory where there was high humidity. The test takes place in temperature cycles that range from 86 °F (30 °C) to 140 °F (60 °C) at 95 percent humidity.
- Transit Drop Test that involves devices being dropped from different heights at 26 different angles onto concrete that has been laid over a steel plate that sits on 2-inch (about 50 mm) thick plywood. The rated drop specification is the height from which it was dropped when it can still be turned on and used. This is generally anything between 12 inches (305 mm) and 72 inches (1.8 m).
Since there is no one authorized body that regulates testing, manufacturers take responsibility for their own tests. For this reason it is vital that organizations, businesses, institutions, and government departments insist on third-party validations from reputable testing facilities like Southwest Research Institute (SWRI).
Why Military Standard Tests Matter
Mission-critical personnel cannot choose the conditions in which they work. For instance, if there is a violent storm with wind and rain, they can’t run for shelter and leave those in danger to fend for themselves. A device might be marked “water resistant,” but if it hasn’t passed the relevant procedure of the MIL-STD Blowing Rain Test, it might fail.
Similarly, if a device cannot work because of severe vibrations, high altitude or temperature, or in any of the extreme conditions first responders are so often exposed to, they could find themselves without any form of communication.
The importance of the Low Temperature Test is to ascertain whether the device will withstand icy temperatures and start even when frozen with damage to the device or loss of data. While the Temperature Shock Test ascertains the ability of the device to move between very cold and very hot temperatures, this doesn’t mean it will necessarily be used in places that experience climatic temperatures that are very hot or cold. Rather, the test simulates what would happen to a device if, for example, the user had to move between a freezer truck and a very hot environment. The motivation is to ensure it wouldn’t suffer damage from thermal shock that could damage the device and readability of its screen.
First responders operate in less than usual circumstances and are more likely to drop devices on the job than somebody working in a more traditional environment. Panasonic uses one unit for the full series of Transit Drop Tests, even though the standard allows up to five devices. So while a laptop or tablet may be labeled rugged, if it took multiple devices to pass this test, how rugged is it really?
Panasonic builds its own critical components for its Toughbooks/Toughpads mobile devices and controls every element from design to testing. Mooring Tech is one of the company’s trusted resellers and offers both new and previously owned Toughboos/Toughpads. If you are in the market for a rugged laptop or tablet, contact us for advice.