20 October 2021

If you’re considering buying rugged devices for your business, you want to ensure they’ll stand the test of time and do the job you need them to do. The testing process is vigorous and is standardised across all rugged devices. But how are rugged devices tested?  

Types of rugged devices

Within rugged devices, there are three levels of ruggedness; semi-rugged, fully-rugged and ultra-rugged. These levels show how much exposure a device can endure which is put to the challenge during testing:

  • Semi-rugged devices are enhanced versions of off the shelf hardware meaning they share some components but are better protected.  
  • Fully rugged devices are designed to work in extreme conditions and are durable, waterproof, dustproof and resistant to drops and shocks.   
  • Ultra-rugged devices are created specifically for military use which can survive the worst conditions.   

Why do rugged devices need to be tested?

Product specifications are incredibly important for all technology, but especially rugged devices. As they’re used in the most demanding and potentially hazardous situations, rugged hardware needs to be resilient to drops, water, dust and shocks. They need to be reliable and not break after the first knock or drop.

For many businesses, rugged devices are an incredibly important part of the supply chain and need to be relied upon for the continual flow of information and data. Any downtime caused by a malfunction or broken device could cause financial losses due to the disruption to the manufacturing process or supply chain. Therefore, it's incredibly important that rugged devices are tested to ensure their level of ruggedness is what the company needs, and has paid for.  

How are rugged devices tested?

Although rugged devices are all created to minimum industry standards, they are not built the same and must be tested to demonstrate their durability. Can your chosen device withstand an accidental drop from a forklift, or being left in a cold environment by accident?

Given the demand on devices, they are tested and measured in two ways; IP Rating and MIL-STD-810.

IP Ratings

IP Ratings are a common set of testing standards used in the UK. Developed by the European Committee for Electro Technical Standardization (CENELEC), IP Ratings, also known as Ingress Protection, provides a standard to define the levels of sealing effectiveness of an electrical device. The sealings need to be able to protect the device from foreign materials including water, dust and dirt which could damage the internal components.

To conduct the IP rating tests, third party laboratories and specialist equipment is used to ensure each test is conducted in the same way. The equipment includes immersion tanks, water, dust nozzles and jets.  

What do IP Ratings show?

IP Ratings are shown by IP followed by two numbers which correspond to solid ingress and liquid ingress.

For devices to be considered as fully-rugged, they must achieve a minimum rating of IP54 which means the device is protected against dust and has some water resistance. At TouchStar, devices such as the handheld TS8200 and vehicle mount TS3200 have a rating of IP54.  

In industries where higher levels of protection are needed such as manufacturing or hazardous environments, an IP rating of IP65 or higher is recommended. This means a device can completely withstand dust, dirt and low-pressure water, and can also withstand a meter drop.

In construction, an IP rating of IP67 or higher would be preferable as this would ensure they could withstand a one-meter water submersion for up to 30 minutes. At TouchStar, our handheld TS5000 device has a rating of IP67.  

MIL-STD-810

To conform to MIL-STD-810 standards, devices have to endure a series of tests created by the US Military. The 29 tests assess how the technology performs at an optimal level under harsh environments, and are extremely extensive by covering a range of situations and conditions. They’re conducted in laboratory conditions and cover changing weather conditions, pressure changes, drops, shocks, and heavy vibrations.

The MIL-STD-810 standards are often revisited, updated to reflect changes in technology and demands. In January 2019, the newest standards were letter H which made some significant changes to the previous version G. These amends were made to multiple sections including the Test and Evaluation Master Plan (TEMP), procedures for high temperature testing and procedural changes to immersion testing.

As this level of testing is not required in the UK, not all rugged devices are tested against the MIL-STD-810 standards. Therefore it’s worth checking the specification of any rugged device you’re considering if you require it to meet US military standards.  

Find out more

Here at TouchStar, we offer a range of rugged devices which has been thoroughly tested to ensure they’re suitable in many different environments and sectors including logistics and manufacturing. To find out how they could benefit your business, get in touch today.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR - PETER MARSH

Peter joined TouchStar (formally Belgravium) in a sales manager role in 2001.  Prior to joining the company, Peter held Partner and National Sales Manager roles within the parcel and logistics industries. 

In 2011 Peter was promoted to Sales Director and is now actively involved in promoting the value of TouchStar’s Rugged Mobile Computing solutions to the warehouse, logistics, manufacturing and field service industries. When not involved in the business, Peter is a keen and enthusiastic football and cricket fan.

 


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