Why Cold Environments Require Purpose-Built Rugged Mobile Computers

When you’re working in a cold environment on a regular basis, you need a lot more than gloves and an adequate coat to be productive. Warehouse workers also need computers and barcode readers that have been built to withstand cold environments.

In cold temperatures, standard rugged mobile computers simply aren’t up to the task. Moving them from normal to cold areas can cause problems like fogging screens, poor battery performance, and unpredictable processing power. Over the long term, the screens and housings can become brittle, while internal components can corrode and fail after exposure to repeated condensation.

Frost, for example, can obscure LCD screens, which means productivity and accuracy drop as users are unable to see their screens. When frost covers optical ports, barcode readers and devices for image capturing won’t work.

Ensuring Your Device is Ready for the Cold

How can you tell if a handheld computer is made to perform well in the cold? One feature to look out for is integrated heaters. These factory-installed options can prevent condensation and the problems it causes. You also need to pay attention to housing; it should be a durable material that is made for industrial applications with a strong seal to prevent moisture and condensation from getting inside.

You’ll also need special batteries for colder environments. Most rugged mobile computers use standard Li-Ion batteries, and these can’t release their charge when the temperature gets too low. Moreover, they fail completely when they are in places where the temperature gets to -22 degrees Fahrenheit, which is not that unusual in frozen storage areas. Therefore, low-impedance lithium-ion batteries are essential.

It’s not just the device itself that needs to be designed with the cold in mind; wireless infrastructure also has to take temperature into account. Access points in frozen or refrigerated storage areas should be placed in heated enclosures to protect from the cold, and data collection methods also need to be considered.

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