Panasonic TOUGHBOOK Becomes Standard Issue for Harsh Environments
Australian company Barrett Communications has chosen a number of TOUGHBOOK PCs and tablets to provide fail-safe operations in the field, supporting the delivery of Barrett’s mission-critical solutions for applications from disaster recovery to Defence and commercial requirements.
Operations in isolated locations struggling with consumer-grade devices that were failing in the field and inadequate capability to support complex tasks. Environmental challenges, ranging from high humidity to extreme weather or dry and dusty conditions, meant devices were regularly damaged, increasing downtime and compromising operations.
Leveraging Panasonic's range of rugged form factors and selecting fit-for-purpose TOUGHBOOK devices for each application, ranging from 2-in-1 hybrids and rugged Windows tablets housed in vehicle mounts, through to more compact and mobile lightweight rugged tablets for on the ground communications kits used by soldiers in the field.
Meeting the challenge of remote locations
Barrett’s solutions can support voice, email, data, fax and tracking over thousands of kilometres. This sees them used by Governments for a range of applications – such as civil defence operations in the area of land based and maritime disaster management and search and rescue; navy patrols; or humanitarian communications to support the delivery of supplies and medical aid to refugees.
Before TOUGHBOOK came aboard, Barrett found its team was travelling to isolated locations to discover customers struggling with consumer-grade devices that were failing in the field and did not have the capability to support complex tasks. Environmental challenges, ranging from high humidity to extreme weather or dry and dusty conditions, meant devices were regularly damaged, increasing downtime and compromising operations.
Ben Jackson, International Support Manager, Barrett Communications, said, “Because traditional PC support was not readily available in these remote areas, it meant any damages or faults took days, and often weeks, to solve. There were also issues with limited battery life, which is a big problem for mobile workers in the field with no access to a power supply.”
Barrett needed a solution that would better serve end users in harsh, outlying locations. Not only has the guaranteed reliability and durability of TOUGHBOOK reduced the risk of failure in the field, it has the capability to support Barrett’s key HF data and tracking systems.
"We turned to Panasonic’s TOUGHBOOK range of PCs and tablets 13 years ago and since then, we have never had any issues and our customers have only ever been positive. Many of our staff are ex-military and they have seen the range during their service, so understand the benefits first hand. Given Panasonic’s expertise and heritage in the rugged market, it was the obvious choice to recommend TOUGHBOOK."
Ruggedised solutions for fit-for purpose applications
Panasonic TOUGHBOOK devices are specifically used in two Barrett Communications solutions. The Barrett 977 HF tracking system is an automatic vehicle and vessel locating and tracking package. The base station currently uses TOUGHBOOK 20 and TOUGHBOOK G1 products to support a map-based display using GPS tracking software to show the position of vehicles in real-time. Mission commanders can now track and communicate with their field operatives while on the road, using the versatile TOUGHBOOK in a variety of modes, such as an in-vehicle configuration, base mounted PC or as a tablet. Vital data, emails and information can now be shared in real-time, so communication is consistent, security is heightened and intelligence is increased.
Secondly, the Barrett 2020 HF data system provides secure internet email connectivity and fax services via HF radio to and between remote base camps with no existing communications infrastructure. The Panasonic TOUGHBOOK solution provides a simple automatic interface for speech, data transfer and email among all stations in the HF network.
This includes instances when soldiers parachute into remote locations that can be located up to 2,500 km from base camp and need a lightweight communications kit in the form of a HF portable radio manpack, supported by a TOUGHBOOK M1. This system allows them to stay connected in the field, with the TOUGHBOOK enabling them to take photos, share data and reports, and send emails back to base.
"All of our HF and VHF products are ruggedised or MIL-STD and we need a laptop or tablet that also meets this standard. Importantly, they are enabling users to stay connected and secure in remote locations often thousands of kilometres from base camp."
Support for customer training
Another critical factor for Barrett Communications was the need for purpose built, reliable and durable technology to use during customer training at its Perth office or at in-country locations around the world. Training is designed to replicate customers’ field experiences and the company’s demonstration Military Land Rover and Commercial 76 Series Land Cruiser are now fitted out with a rugged TOUGHBOOK for demonstrations.
“TOUGHBOOK is perfect for remote field operations because it’s rugged and reliable to military standards. Often, we’re working without mains power and with intermittent generators, so we need technology that has extended battery life. The ultra bright TOUGHBOOK screen can be easily read in the strongest direct sunlight; and the unit can stand up to use in swirling dust, powerful wind and driving rain,” Ben Jackson said.
"Selecting the right mobile solution can make all the difference in successfully completing a mission. Over the years, Panasonic has outfitted the defence sector with rugged solutions that meet mission-critical demands in hostile environments where failure is not an option. We’re now seeing a move to rugged hybrid tablet technology, with the to provide greater flexibility in the field for defence and government organisations."
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