Rugged mobile devices achieve lowest TCO, survey shows

Most enterprise users of rugged mobile computing solutions spent less on their applications than those using commercial grade devices, according to a recent study. The comprehensive survey conducted by VDC Corp., a technology market research and consulting firm, polled nearly 250 enterprise users of mobile computing solutions in harsh commercial and industrial operating environments.

12/11/2003


Most enterprise users of rugged mobile computing solutions spent less on their applications than those using commercial grade devices, according to a recent study. The comprehensive survey conducted by VDC Corp ., a technology market research and consulting firm, polled nearly 250 enterprise users of mobile computing solutions in harsh commercial and industrial operating environments. Although the survey targets “enterprise users” in particular, the findings may also be applied to industrial applications of similar devices for data acquisition, monitoring, or human-machine interface in industrial controls, automation, and instrumentation. Using a rugged key-board, touchscreen, laptop, or PDA in automation applications, for example, also may likely be more cost effective than applying commercial technology, the results suggest.

According to survey details, five-year total costs of ownership (TCO) calculations indicate most users deploying rugged mobile computing devices spent less per operator per year than companies deploying commercial-grade devices. Commercial-grade users often spent less per operator per year supporting lighter-duty, next-generation applications operating in less challenging physical environments such as financial services, field sales, and hospitality.

The TCO analysis accounted for a number of investments and expenses involved in mobile computing solutions. Major cost centers analyzed included:

  • Mobile platform and peripheral hardware;

  • Software licenses and development fees;

  • System implementation, installation and integration;

  • Training for operators and support staff;

  • On-going maintenance and operation support;

  • Replacement and spare parts;

  • Downtime costs.

Two trends were apparent throughout:

  • Hardware acquisition costs for commercial-grade devices are universally and significantly lower than for rugged mobile devices;

  • On-going maintenance, replacement and downtime costs for commercial-grade hardware solutions are almost universally higher than for rugged mobile solutions.

In most cases, increased service, support and downtime costs outweighed the lower cost of hardware acquisition, leaving users of commercial-grade solutions spending more over 3- and 5-year lifecycles.

For more information, click here to visit the VDC Corp. Web site .

Click here to read more on the report, “ Total Cost of Ownership Models for Mobile Computing and Communications Platforms .”

—Jeanine Katzel, senior editor, Control Engineering, jkatzel@reedbusiness.com





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