Ruggedness Testing

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Posted Sep 11, 2009 9:50:16 AM by DecisionPoint Team & filed under

Our September 10 post focused on the total cost of ownership (TCO) of mobile devices. The post explained that ruggedized devices are often more expensive due in part to extensive testing. Venture Development Corporation’s (VDC) estimates testing device ruggedness to be as much as $100,000.00 per design. It’s unlikely such testing is conducted for commercial products that are not required nor expected to support claims of ruggedness.

So what kind of testing is done? The following is a summary of the tests used to determine the ruggedness of handheld devices.

Drop Rating:
The drop rating is a measure of a devices ability to survive repeated falls from a specified height. In rugged device testing, the surface is concrete while the height can vary. Naturally, the higher the survivable drop height, the more rugged the device. A drop height of 4-5 feet to concrete is considered a reasonable test of ruggedness.

IP Rating:
An Ingress Protection Rating (IP rating) is a standard used to identify to what degree a device can withstand exposure to solid particles and liquid ingress. Typically, an IP rating is expressed in 2 numbers – such as IP65. The first number indicates the protection against solid objects or dust with a maximum rating of “6”. A “6” indicates that the device is impervious to any ingress of dust. The second number indicates the protection against liquids, where the maximum rating is “8”. An “8” would indicate that the device can withstand continuous immersion in water. A device with a high IP rating would be an important consideration for use in outdoor applications.

The required IP rating will vary by application, however, commercial device manufacturers rarely specify an IP rating. Again, commercial devices are not designed with excessive dust and liquid exposure considerations.

Operating Temperature:
Commercial terminals are typically designed to operate in a “normal” environment where the temperature is fairly constant such as an office. Using a terminal outside of its specified operating temperature range may lead to premature failure. Industrial terminals are designed to work over wide temperature ranges that often include conditions well below freezing. This is an important variable to consider if the terminal will be used outdoors.


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