The docking divide: vehicle-mounted tablets and notebooks

The business benefits of providing mobile workers with rugged tablets and notebooks to boost productivity have become widely accepted wisdom over the past decade. However, the willingness of businesses to invest in vehicle-mounted docks and cradles to efficiently secure and safely house these devices when mobile workers are on the move has lagged far behind.

So what’s holding back businesses from taking this logical next step? After all, you wouldn’t give your office-based workforce a computer and then not provide them with a desk to sit at to use it. So why give a mobile worker a productivity transforming tool and not give them somewhere secure to safely house and use it effectively when working from their mobile office on the road?

Based on interviews with a range of customers across a wide variety of industry sectors, the following are the key considerations identified when implementing a vehicle-mounted docking solution.

CUSTOMISATION AND DESIGN

Panasonic docking solutions can be fitted into a wide range of vehicles from cars to vans, 4x4s to emergency service vehicles and more. Even if the fleet comprises of several different vehicles, Panasonic can install an ergonomic solution that makes the most of the available space while respecting user requirements. Existing docking solutions can be integrated into your vehicles; alternatively, a custom dock can be designed in-house specifically for your needs.

“We were able to input our ideas to Panasonic and see the design process at every stage. Panasonic’s understanding of our business and deployments for specialist fleets meant that we had a purpose designed and full safety-approved vehicle cradle for the new Toughpad tablets in just nine months.”
– Dave Wood, Head of infrastructure Implementation, Ocado

SAFETY

Panasonic prides itself on its capability and expertise to handle the entire design and installation process, ensuring that all safety and legal requirements are met, so you’ll receive a solution that will truly transform your mobile operations. In addition to the usual environmental, vibration and cycle testing of our devices, Panasonic also puts the dock through vehicle impact testing. This guarantees the dock and bracketry, which is designed to absorb as much energy as possible upon impact, do not detach and become a projectile in a collision, thus safe-guarding the vehicle occupants.

“When we were testing our very first mobile devices, we used to put them on the seats and the floor of the police vehicles, but we quickly realised that during a rapid response call the devices could become dangerous projectiles. A docking solution was the obvious solution.”
– Tim Kyburz, Alexandria Police Department, Virginia

CONNECTIVITY

Panasonic recognises the importance of connectivity to today’s mobile worker. So to optimise wireless connections each dock has integrated dual antenna pass-through. Additional components such as rugged routers, vehicle antennas and Mobile Performance Management (MPM) software can also be supplied and installed by Panasonic as part of a full vehicle solution to maximise 3G/4G and WLAN connections including new Australian exclusive band 28 support on selected models, including FZ-G1, CF-20 and FZ-N1.

“Our mission is to provide officers with real-time information at the point of need, so they can make faster and more informed decisions than ever before, many of which can be life-changing for members of the public or the officers themselves.”
– DCI Kennedy, Project Manager for Mobile Data, Hertfordshire Police

FIELD APPLICATIONS

Panasonic Custom Docking Solutions put your Toughbook and Toughpad devices at the heart of your vehicles. Designed to seamlessly integrate with your existing fleet, your field workforce can operate just as they would in the office. Either from their vehicle, or on the move.

“The Toughpad device is the primary tool for patrols when responding to breakdown calls. The patrols accept jobs via the device, locate the breakdown using GPS and let the customer service centre know when they have arrived on site. The G1 also interfaces with the AA’s vehicle diagnostic tool to help fault find in the field. AA technicians can also search for information and parts online and communicate information to members whilst assisting them.”
– Mark Dawson, Transformation Program Manager for Road Operations, AA

EASE OF USE

Panasonic vehicle docking solutions are designed with ease of use in mind and input from the people who actually carry out the vehicle integrations is also considered – from simple installation and adaptation, to right- and left- hand access, positioning of ports and ergonomic dock and release mechanisms.

“The docking station cradles had to be durable to cope with up to 50 insertions per day, yet be slim, lightweight, and modular for simple right- and left- hand vehicle installation. Ease of use is very important for our drivers. For example, Toughpad devices can be docked and released from our latest cradles using just one hand.”
– Dave Wood, Head of infrastructure Implementation, Ocado

DEVICE SECURITY

Mobile devices and the data they carry are valuable to your organisation. That’s why all Panasonic docking solutions incorporate the capability to lock your device in place. Docks can be dashboard-mounted, stored in the rear of the vehicle or hidden out of sight, for example, in the glove box.

“For increased security we want the device locked and out of sight to mitigate data security risks. So a design where the Toughpad could be docked in the glove box of the car was an ideal solution. It allows us to connect the device to a second screen for use in the vehicle.”
– Paul Jennings, PC on the mobile data team, Hertfordshire Police

SOLUTION LONGEVITY

Panasonic docking solutions are designed to be long-lasting, working with our renowned market leading Toughbook and Toughpad rugged mobile devices. So when it’s time to replace or change the mobile device, your entire in-vehicle solution doesn’t necessarily have to change with it.

“We have had some of our Panasonic docks for 10-12 years and they get quite a work out! During the course of a shift, the Toughbook devices may be in and out of the dock 10 times a day.”
– Tim Kyburz, Alexandria Police Department, Virginia

SERVICE AND SUPPORT

Device downtime is costly, so the direct fleet support and warranties offered by Panasonic provide the highest level of protection for your devices and docking solutions.

“As well as installing the solution, Panasonic and their channel partners also provide support to keep vehicles on the road. Whenever there is a fault or issue with the vehicle solution, our engineer’s call is directed to the Panasonic team. This helps keep our engineers effective and provides me with important information to manage costs and to spot any recurring fault.”
– Andrew Pettiford, Transport Manager, Wales & West Utilities.

For Panasonic Business customers, the challenges of docking are all in the past. Having spoken to those customers across continents using Panasonic Computer Docking Solutions, the benefits of vehicle-mounted devices to both the user and the business are clear; bringing security, safety and connectivity to the forefront of the application, with minimum disruption to the operation and minimal intrusion to the vehicle.

Panasonic Toughbooks & Toughpads Download the Toughpad Docking Case Study (PDF 3.46MB)


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