Whether it’s for manufacturing, field use or any other harsh environment, having the best rugged tablet available that can withstand dust, dirt, moisture and physical abuse is paramount. Since dust and moisture can wreak havoc with electronics, the IP Rating is an important consideration when choosing the right mobile computer. But what exactly is the IP rating and how does it affect ruggedness?
Informally referred to as ‘ingress protection,’ the IP Code, or formally the International Protection marking is the performance and safety rating standard set by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) for electronic devices. IP ratings play a key role in industrial and rugged mobile computing environments as they set the standard measurement for dust and water ingress into an electronic device. In other words, it specifies the level of protection required from foreign bodies and liquid.
While the IP standards for ingress protection, the two digits following it reflect the scale of protection that the device brings in two classification areas. The first digit reflects the protection from solid objects while the second digit reflects protection from liquids. The higher the number of each digit, the greater the level of protection. Since there are applications where the one or the other of the classifications does not apply, they can be replaced by an X, such as IPX6.
Currently, IP68 is the highest standard for a rugged Linux tablet or Android tablet as it denotes that the tablet is totally dust-proof and capable of immersion in water up to a depth of 1.5m for a maximum of 30 minutes. The additional dust-proofing will protect the internal components from any dirt or gravel if the device impacts the ground.
The IP rating a device requires depends on the application and the environment in which it will be used, but the best rugged tablet with IP68 rating will meet the needs of the most varied environments while providing complete functionality without risk. Of course, choosing the highest IP code rated device is about more than just its ability to withstand dirt, dust, and moisture as it must also provide the necessary functionality to get the job done.
Whether the user base needs an open source platform such as with a rugged Linux tablet or needs a rugged Android tablet that can provide broad hardware options, the use of external peripherals such as USB and ethernet ports will require sealed rubber or plastic caps over device ports or specially designed IP rated connectors to maintain the IP rating. Since there are no optimum ways to ensure that IP rating is maintained when external devices are connected to the ports, the best devise has additional means of interconnectivity while maintaining the dust and water ingress blocking.
An alternative to utilizing peripherals where there is a need to provide access to the I/O ports within is to ensure that there is wireless connectivity via Bluetooth connectivity. This can effectively maintain the IP rating and keep out dust and moisture when peripheral is used in harsh environments.
The best rugged Android tablet devices are specifically designed with sealed casings and protective covers to stand up to even the harshest conditions while providing broad applications and peripheral use options. While custom tablets can be designed for highly specific needs that may fall outside of the many standardized uses, they must still provide the IP67 or IP68 rating to be reliable and cost-effective in harsh environments.
Rugged tablets with IP67 or IP68 ratings require specialized design and manufacturing techniques and often have special use cases which require a certain level of customization. SECO USA specializes in the design and manufacturing of rugged Android and rugged Linux tablets. Contact SECO USA for an assessment of your rugged tablet application.