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Getting greater value from rugged technology

By Fred Kao, CEO at Durabook and Twinhead International

Digitisation is transforming the defence sector. Its aim is to drive continual, incremental improvements, create efficiencies, facilitate operations, inform decision-making, and enhance safety and security. These outcomes provide competitive advantage and can be the difference between mission success and failure. But with squeezed budgets and increasingly sophisticated threats, how can defence teams get ahead?

Customisation and broad functionality

As technology becomes more and more important for field teams, maximising capabilities is a must. Considering efficiency over complexity can help ensure assets perform to the maximum throughout their lifecycle. A single rugged device can offer the flexibility to be deployed in a range of settings to perform any number of tasks thrown at it, acting as a force multiplier and driving greater efficiencies and other benefits.

Rugged devices are used on the front line, in vehicles and in the back office to assist a range of mission-critical tasks. They have already proven their value in defence operations and military missions, supporting tasks such as asset management and repair, diagnostics and maintenance, logistical organisation, flight maintenance and mission control.

Defence organisations must be ready to adapt to emerging threats and opportunities in the most cost-effective way. Some rugged device manufacturers have recognised this and incorporated expansion capabilities as standard. This means rugged tablets and laptops have the flexibility to support the latest technology, as well as legacy systems that will continue to be used for years to come.  For example, a rugged laptop can easily be expanded to become a portable cloud or local storage device or server providing immediate and safe analysis, capture and analysis of data for accurate decision-making, such as GIS maps for mission planning. Using an expansion module or via other connections, rugged devices can quickly be transformed on the fly into any number of different solutions - from an ultra-portable workstation, a remote control/radio system for robots, drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), a server or storage device, or remote command centre.

Durabook’s newly upgraded Z14I is the most powerful fully rugged device available and offers extensive customisation options. Thunderbolt™ 4 technology allows defence teams improved user experience, reliable connectivity and maximum performance for smooth video and fast data transfer. It also offers one port that supports multiple protocols (USB 4, DisplayPort, PCIe) and supports up to two 4K displays to support command and control operations.

Durabook’s U11I rugged tablet, a 2-in-1 rugged computing solution has the addition of a fast release detachable keyboard. It has been designed to increase productivity and add flexibility to teams in the field that benefit from both laptop and tablet form factors as they switch between command centres and the field.

New technologies

Not only do rugged devices act as a force multiplier so that ground teams operate more efficiently, they are also capable of supporting a range of tasks and amplifying the benefits of other technologies too. They facilitate even greater benefits from digital technologies such as AI, IoT, Big Data, augmented reality. For example, the ability to capture, interpret, share and store analytical and mission information - often at scale - in the field is essential to successful operations, but this needs powerful processing capabilities not usually found in commercial off-the-shelf portable devices. Operation teams can be empowered by real-time intelligence simply by connecting a rugged laptop directly into IoT devices or drones or to act as a central server or storage device.

Another example is in disaster recovery situations, teams on the ground can use rugged devices to rapidly access and process high-density data such as 3D graphical mapping and overlay augmented reality for situational awareness and to develop action plans while keeping them agile in often extreme environments.

The rugged specialists for defence

Durabook, the global rugged mobile solutions brand owned by Twinhead International Corporation, has over 35 years of engineering experience, building rugged devices for a range of industries. The organisation built its first military-grade rugged laptop device in 2000 and now counts the US Airforce, US Army and US Marine Corps as key customers. In 2018 Durabook won the contract to supply rugged notebooks to the US Air Force Client Computing Solutions (CCS-2), and in 2019, it was selected to supply a full range of fully- and semi-rugged laptop sand tablets for the organisation. This means that Durabook is the rugged provider of choice for users from the US Department of the Air Force, Army and Navy, Defense Health Agency-Air Force, White House Communications Agency and the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Durabook was selected for its product design, superior build quality and uncompromised service.

Durabook’s UK partner in defence is Akhter, which has served Ministry of Defence clients since 1985. It so understands the pressures of sourcing to best value and price-performance stipulations of government procurement guidelines. Alan Laffoley, CEO & Technical Director at Akhter said that “Durabook’s extensive customisation capabilities enable us to create more compelling solutions tailored to the varied needs of defence organisations and deliver them in a timely way.”

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