One question we are frequently asked about in discussions around in-vehicle installations is which vehicle docking station is right for me and my application? With so many options and manufacturers in the marketplace, it’s an unsurprising query, and like many things in life, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. So instead, let’s look some of the key considerations that should be made when selecting a vehicle dock to improve field service efficiency.
1. Keeping your team safe
In my last blog, I talked about how to fit a dock to keep drivers safe. When it comes to selecting a dock, all of those rules still apply. A dock tested to MIL-STDs for shock and vibration will ensures it remains docked safely despite stresses from driving ranging from encountering a pot hole through to a crash.
An extra consideration is how fool-proof the dock is. Is there a chance that your team could dock it incorrectly, and find themselves with a potentially heavy tablet on their lap when they go over a bump? When tablets are frequently mounted and dismounted, the risk of displacement becomes higher. A simple to use, fool-proof dock is a critical element of ensuring workforce safety. Safety aside, tablets that end up dropping from their mount will inevitably have reduced reliability in the long term.
2. Dismountability saves time
For many field service users, dismounting a tablet to collect data or use as a fixed asset away from the vehicle can be a frequent and necessary occurrence. This can range from just a few times a shift through to many frequent stops.
A dock that provides a simple and hassle-free method of docking, ideally with a single hand, can save field personnel time with every use.
3. On-the-move charging improves mobility and reduces downtime
At its most fundamental, a dock, rather than a cradle allows you to keep a tablet fully charged whilst in the vehicle without the need to attach additional cables, which for mixed work reduces the need for heavy extended duration batteries when the tablet is used away from its dock.
As well as making the tablet lighter and therefore much easier to carry, it can reduce the cost per device with less need for extra batteries. With less need to stop to charge, on-the-move charging increases uptime and optimises productivity.
4. Reduce downtime from low signal areas
Some vehicle docks also have options to connect to external antennas, allowing far better signal performance in weak signal areas, which inevitably from time to time mobile field work ends up in. In this scenario, some work simply has to wait until a 3G/4G connection is restored in a better signal area. The same also applies to a lesser extent to WIFI and GNSS/GPS for vehicle tracking. Docks with pass through or options for external 3G/4G/GPS/WIFI adaptors, are the ones to look out for to allow external antennas to be fitted.