Words and Photos: Jason Waddell and Mike Bates
Editor’s Note: MASONRY Magazine had the chance to ask the teams at Batson-Cook Construction and Panasonic Connect a series of questions regarding their development of the TOUGHBOOK 33. Thank you to both teams for taking the time to talk with us.
Jason Waddell, Director of Construction Technology Development, Batson-Cook Construction
What drove Batson-Cook Construction to deploy the TOUGHBOOK 33 with Panasonic Connect?
Batson-Cook Construction is one of the premier construction organizations in the southeastern United States. With long days on-site in the southern heat, the consumer-grade devices that our workers used previously could not withstand daily field conditions —quickly running out of battery power, breaking when dropped, and overheating in the sun. The unreliability of these devices caused downtime and high-replacement costs which hindered operational efficiency. They also posed a challenge in the building layout process – a critical element for construction projects. These inefficiencies drove Batson-Cook Construction to deploy the TOUGHBOOK 33. Its long-lasting battery, 2-in-1 form factor, superior display, and high-power performance benefit our workers and their workflows.
Construction and masonry workers deal with inefficiencies from mobile devices all the time, like heat, drops and battery life. How does the TOUGHBOOK 33 help combat these issues?
Mobile devices used in the construction industry need to withstand harsh environments. The TOUGHBOOK 33 addresses this need. Our workers benefit from the device’s bright display and glove touch-enabled screen. Additionally, the TOUGHBOOK 33 features up to 20 hours of battery life, allowing workers to go a whole shift without needing to charge. Our workers can be in-office or on site, so the 2-in-1 form factor provides enhanced mobility, allowing them to convert the laptop to a tablet based on their specific job requirements. With a flexible mobile solution like the TOUGHBOOK 33, our workers can reduce downtime and maintain efficiency on job sites.
What obstacles and challenges were faced in the process?
With prior solutions, we found that mobile devices were prone to overheating and crashing on the job sites. Similarly, the direct sunlight caused issues with readability in the field. This forced our workers to take additional steps to view important schematics or data information. When looking to overcome this challenge, we engaged with Panasonic Connect for a fully rugged solution that could withstand this environment. The TOUGHBOOK 33 has a magnesium alloy chassis encased with ABS and elastomer edges, combatting this issue. Additionally, raised bezels and detachable screens support impact protection.
How has this device improved workflow and efficiency on your job sites?
The TOUGHBOOK 33 benefits our workers by reducing downtime so they can focus on the task rather than worrying about battery life or screen visibility. The device seamlessly integrates with software applications so workers can visualize building layouts and create critical data points to inform that layout starting from the foundation. Enhanced portability has given workers the option to utilize the device as a laptop or touch-screen tablet based on their unique needs and preferences throughout a given day. Adopting the TOUGHBOOK 33 has been instrumental in making our work and processes more seamless for employees.
Mike Bates, Enterprise Account Manager, Panasonic Connect
What challenges had to be addressed in the design and development of the TOUGHBOOK 33?
Our TOUGHBOOK solutions are purpose-built to meet the evolving needs of workers today, such as the masonry construction industry. The design and development of devices are fueled by customer input and feedback. For the TOUGHBOOK 33, our team needed to ensure the features and functionalities addressed customer pain points so the device could deliver the level of efficiency and reliability needed in an industry like construction. The TOUGHBOOK 33 went through rigorous testing under different conditions, including vibrations, temperature, drops, shocks, humidity, and liquids. MIL-STD-810G and IP65-certified, the device meets and exceeds industry standard.
The industry is constantly changing and progressing, so how does this product continue to develop alongside it?
Our customers operate in the most mission-critical industries and they continue to embrace new technology to adapt to an increasingly digital world. This requires us to evolve alongside our customers so we can meet their needs. To do so, we have introduced enhancements to the TOUGHBOOK 33 with innovative features such as faster connectivity and data speeds, louder speakers, improved camera, brighter backlit keyboard, and more. Additionally, our ProServices team works with companies to offer technical knowledge and industry expertise to help with the entire product lifecycle. With the ever-changing needs of the industry, the device is developed to be able to adapt with new updates and maintenance.
What types of software are compatible? If possible, how does the seamless integration work across an industry project?
With an ecosystem of software and professional services, we help our customers plan, test, deploy, manage and maintain their TOUGHBOOK mobile solutions — from pre-deployment planning and consultation to device management, installation and warranty and repair. We work with industry-leading partners to offer complete solutions with software applications that help workers get the most out of their TOUGHBOOK deployment. Software applications such as AutoCAD and Autodesk Point Layout are critical to construction workers’ day-to-day job so we work closely with an organization’s IT team to install, configure and provide the level of services and support they need to manage their daily workflow without any disruption or downtime.
How does this product overall benefit the masonry and construction industry?
The TOUGHBOOK 33 redefines rugged mobility for those working in demanding conditions. We know from speaking to our customers that they count on their TOUGHBOOK devices to help them do their job efficiently, so timely service is key. The combination of key features, high reliability and quick turnaround times for repairs is what sets us apart. Investing in modern and digital solutions like TOUGHBOOK devices reduces total cost of ownership and provides long-term value to construction companies. As this industry continues to transform now and into the future, TOUGHBOOK solutions will be there to future-proof operations so businesses can remain agile and competitive in the market.