Choosing the correct mobile device for your inspection requirements

Choosing the correct mobile device for your compliance and inspection
requirements is vital in order to perform rigorous and effective inspection. As
inspections software is adjusted to match a businesses intended means of use,
consideration of the mobile devices must be given in order to complement the solution
and allow inspectors and field personnel to optimize their time spent
performing inspections.

Mine operators must understand and consider the ramifications of
their choice of mobile device. To weigh in which mobile device be most
beneficially, like most decisions, cost analysis is an important tool to analyse
whether a device will benefit a business and allow comparisons to alternatives.
Accordingly, when deciding which mobile device will be most appropriate for
your mine operations, factors such as ease of use, rugged / non-rugged, intrinsically
safe, RFID capabilities, consumer / enterprise, company policy as well as mobile
device specifications such as screen size, industry grade Wi-Fi and other
specific features must all be considered.

1. Rugged vs. non rugged

Inspections are often performed on the field and exposed to numerous
elements which make damage or break the device. Consumer devices such as
smartphone and tablets although robust are simply not made for certain
environments. As such, industrial grade mobile devices allows inspectors a more
durable option.

By inspectors opting for a rugged devices it may allow for the following:

– Cost saving: An industrial device simply last longer, research by Venture
Development Corporation (VDC) of Total
Cost of Ownership (TCO) models surveyed a broad range deployments and reported
TCO annual savings were up to 17% in Field Profession applications and 32% in
Supply Chain application for rugged hardware deployments.

– Access to harsh environments: Rugged devices provide operators
and employees the ability to use hardware in certain environments where an
unprotected device wouldn’t be recommended. An example of this is that non
rugged devices can only operate in ‘normal’ temperature, once the mobile device
is operated outside the temperature range it may lead to premature failure.

– Increased productivity: Equipping employees with durable mobile
devices allows them to focus on the tasks and inspections at hand. Unprotected /
non rugged hardware is prone to be damage and break which can disrupt and often
halter workflows.

2. Consumer vs. Enterprise 

There are numerous reasons for your mine operators to consider opting to commercial / enterprise
grade such as durability, security, hardware features all of which can benefit
a mine through time and cost savings.

– Increased IT time securing data on employee devices
– Reduced time training staff individually to suit their mobile software
– Consumer devices are often fragile and have a short product life cycle
– Company policy- companies may preference a specific system to sync with
existing infrastructure

Consumer mobile devices often provided business
with an effective solution to complete inspections. These products are often
available at local retail outlets initially seem like the logical and most cost
effective solution. However, for many mines, enterprise grade hardware is
needed to effectively conduct inspections through its specific features that
consumer devices aren’t equipped with, for example features such as:

– NFC (Near Field Communication) & RFID (Radio Frequency Identification)
– Battery Life
– Intrinsically Safe
– Durability i.e. IP (Ingress Protection) Sealing
– Ability to include accessories
– WIFI grade

– Bar Code Scanning 

3. Mine policy

Mines often have a
culture and preference for operating systems and opt to use a certain brand and
system to better sync the mine and employees workflows and operations.When
new mobile device is introduced into the mine, time must be invested in training employees of the new
device and recommended workflows. It must be acknowledged that employees may
have existing experience and knowledge of certain mobile devices and operating
systems which resulting, allows the employee to begin inspections in the field
more imminent. Additionally, if employees and key decision makers aren’t
considered in the deciding process of new software it will deter them of the
chosen products use if they have preference of a certain device. 

4. Device features

Mobile devices differentiates with the product’s
specifications and capabilities. Inspectors must consider what is needed for an
effective inspection to be made. Device factors that should be consider are:

– Touch Screen: Ability to draw and make notes on the screen while having
glovers on

– Speech to Text: Ability to create and store notes verbally when there is
background noise

– Camera Ability: Zoom and high resolution imagery

– Screen Size: How big the screen needs to best host the software and record

– Hardware Size: The convenience and mobility working with the device

– GPS/Time/Date stamps: Ability for automatic GPS/Time/Date

– Storage: Ability to store large files and data banks.


In conclusion, mines must firstly identify the means
of use for their inspections, determine clear expectations of mobile devices
life and consider what factors are needed to be catered to. The correct choice
of mobile devices will have huge influence on the productivity of inspectors
and operators, reduced rates of device failures and wireless transmission
failures and a high percentage of maintenance covered by warranty.

The size and scale of the inspections at hand can
definitely plays a role when choosing the correct mobile device. For storage
facility inspecting and recording inventory, their non-rugged mobile phone /
tablet can be fitted with the appropriate software. In comparison, a large
organization may have a fleet of inspectors working remotely and require them
to conduct inspections that last hours in which require transferable batteries.

For many mines, consumer products may seem like a solution
due to their accessibility and established awareness of the product however;
these products ultimately can provide mines with a range of obstacles and
problems. If mines wish to continue to implement these devices due to company
policy, cases can be equipped on the device to strengthen them and make them
compatible in industrial environments i.e. Intrinsically Safe, Ingress
Protection Sealing etc. 

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