Where rugged computing systems fit in the government market
Government Product News asked two GammaTech Computer Corp. executives to discuss rugged systems suited for government applications. GammaTech’s Paul Kim, vice president of sales and marketing, and Mike Lehner, business development manager, offer their views. Lehner’s headshot is below, on the left.
Fremont, Calif.-based GammaTech is an international manufacturer and supplier of notebook and tablet computers. The firm design, offers high-performance mobile computing solutions, including a line of rugged and hardened notebook and tablet computers.
GPN: Can you tell us about GammaTech and its work with government?
Paul Kim and Mike Lehner: GammaTech has been a supplier of rugged computers to all levels of government — federal, state and local. One military program we are particularly proud to be a part of is the Air Force e-tools program. Ruggedized laptops called e-tools do away with millions of printed pages of technical orders.
Not only does that generate significant cost savings, it also has the benefit of enabling technicians to have the most up-to-date information at their fingertips. And this new program is much more environmentally friendly by limiting the amount of printed material that is needed and then thrown away when it becomes outdated. Maintenance technicians can view most digitized technical orders in either plain text, PDF or HTML.
New products from GammaTech that are well suited to this application are the Durabook R8300 rugged notebook and R11 rugged tablet (photo is below, on right). Go here for more information on the R11.
GPN: Are governments investing more in rugged systems nowadays?
PK and ML: Yes, the government is one of our largest customers. Their needs continue to go beyond traditional computing requirements. Rugged features like drop, shock and water resistance are a must for many of their day-to-day operations. Many government workers, whether they are in the military, public safety, parks and rec and other government departments, do not work at a desk in a climate-controlled office. IT purchasers within the government have realized that a standard, commercial notebook or tablet is very vulnerable to damage and data loss outside of a controlled office environment.
Because of this, government agencies have been demanding our industry (Rugged Manufacturers) to keep up with the technology available in the consumer market, adapt it to their specific needs, and still keep the end computer relatively light weight for their workforce in the field. To meet the needs of our government customers as we move into 2015, we have developed the new R11 rugged tablet – putting the most current technology in their hands. The R11 is a robust tablet built with the latest generation Intel Haswell processor. It has an 11.6-inch screen and weighs only 2.7 pounds. The unit has been drop-tested to 6 feet and running both Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 operating systems.
GPN: What should government managers look for in a rugged computing system for users?
PK and ML: The first thing that a government manager should look at is how the agency’s work force is going to be using the notebook or tablet. Surveying or conducting informal interviews with the people who will actually be using the computer in the field is critical to determine exactly what functionality you will need. Based on the input received from the field, the manager will then be able to answer the following questions:
1. Is this system being used in a mission critical situation?
2. Is this being used in a specialized application such as on aircraft or mounted in a military vehicle that calls for unique certification, such as MIL-461F for emission like conducted emissions, conducted susceptibility, radiated emissions, and radiated susceptibility?
3. Will there be a place to dock the computer for recharging, for example in a police car? How will this affect battery life?
4. Is the environment it is being deployed in subject to harsh weather? Extremes of heat and cold? How about dust, liquid and other environmental hazards?
5. How likely is the unit to be dropped? How far is the drop? There are variations in the test results from the standard MIL-STD 810, and this is critical in determining if you need a rugged or semi-rugged unit. Or more importantly, if it will meet your needs.
6. Are features such as stealth mode, salt, fog, solar radiation, extreme depth underground or any unique cards or readers required?
GPN: Thank you, Paul Kim and Mike Lehner, for your views.