The mobility to work anywhere, with the familiarity of a laptop and the ability to get customer signatures on-site were key reasons for Veolia Water Solutions and Technologies' adoption of tablet PCs. The company manages water and wastewater treatment plants. It recently rolled out Motion Computing's LE1600 slate-based machines across its national service technician workforce. Local reseller, Blue Zone, was in charge of hardware and support.
Veolia looked at Panasonic Toughbooks - as well as products from Fujitsu, Toshiba and IBM - before choosing tablet PCs. Veolia had been using PDAs but found the devices limiting for thicker applications.
"The PDAs were also more vulnerable to breakage or loss. And when the batteries went fl at, staff would lose the work they had done for the day," Motion Computing regional manager, Brett Gross, said. "There were also some processes and work fl ow issues which needed to be looked at. For example, with occupational health and safety rules, technicians needed to fill in forms on-site. We suggested they do this electronically."
Blue Zone director, Stuart Charlton, said Veolia's experience with the PDA form factor made it easier to adopt slate tablet PCs.
"The slates are a robust product: as they're not a convertible, there's no issue with hinges breaking or flexibility," he said.
"The product quality and Microsoft's tablet operating system has also become very stable and users were familiar with it. As soon as we got their forms in and the handwriting negotiation was understood, they took to them really well."
Although it wasn't on the original project plan, Veolia also decided to adopt a 3G solution to transmit data from tablet PCs in real-time, Charlton said. It had initially planned to transmit data in batches over time. "Using 3G with the tablets allowed them to better their expected project performance," he said.