News . Auto ID

23 Apr 2018

Manufacturers put their mobile devices to the test.

No matter how good a grip you have on your business, there will be occasions when you have to let go – even if you didn’t intend to. If you happen to be carrying a handheld scanner at that moment, you’ll experience a split-second that seems frozen in time as it falls to the floor.

However, if your device of choice is a rugged portable scanner or data terminal, you can more than likely breathe easy. We asked manufacturers for the drop test results of some of their most durable (and deservedly popular) devices, and in this blog, we’ll put the numbers in context.

How high is high enough?

If we tell you that the average South African man is 1.69m tall, with South African women being on average 10cm shorter, that gives you an idea of the likely maximum drop distances that mobile devices may have to survive falling (assuming the operator is standing on the floor).

Speaking of the floor, the nature of what the operator is standing on will play a significant factor in what happens at the moment of impact. Earth or sand is one thing; concrete or stone quite another. (If you happen to work in a pillow warehouse where the floor is deep in feathers, you probably don’t need to read this blog).

Survival of the fittest

When device manufacturers look at survivable drop heights, they test their portable scanners and data terminals on standard concrete floors, and ‘survive’ means that the device must be capable of continued full-range operation after the impact.

Starting at the lower end of the scale, the CipherLab Zebra MC3200 mobile computer and Honeywell 6510 can both survive a drop onto concrete of around 1.2m. That’s significantly higher than the average workstation, so no need to worry if someone elbows yours out of the way. 1.2m is also the tallest you can realistically expect a 5-year-old boy to be. In other words, if your son is balancing your device on his head, and he drops it, you needn’t get too mad at him.

Mobile Devices Heights

Moving up the scale to the CipherLab Zebra MC3300 or Honeywell CK3, you’ll find mobile devices that can handle rather more punishment. 1.5m is a long way down – it’s equivalent to the height of most cows (to put these devices into an agricultural context, for which they’re also superbly suited).

The wild life of mobile computers

1.8 metres is a key benchmark in terms of survivability. It’s the same as the shoulder height of a male white rhino (although if you were standing next to one of these, your own survival might be foremost in your mind, rather than that of your mobile computer).

This height is important as it’s also (more realistically) the height you would be using one of these devices at to scan a barcode or label above your head.

Beyond 1.8 metres, we enter the rarefied realms of devices with built-in super-survivability. This is where Honeywell’s CK range of ultra-rugged mobile computers really comes into its own. These devices offer increased efficiency and deliver unparalleled reliability for track-and-trace and proof-of-delivery applications, even in the most extreme conditions.

With the ability to survive a drop of 2.4 metres (as high as a medium-sized elephant), they’re in a drop zone all of their own. And while we’re on the subject of impressive wild animals, they feature screens made of Gorilla™ Glass that are both touch sensitive and impact resistant.

A mountain gorilla, incidentally, stands 1.8 metres tall – well below the height from which these devices can survive a fall. As yet we don’t have any data on whether they could survive an encounter with a silverback, but then we don’t want to raise your expectations unrealistically high.