Toughbook delivers robust performance for Auckland Regional Council Environmental Services Officers

In October 2006 Panasonic NZ and the Auckland Regional Council continued their relationship with the implementation of the latest, rugged Toughbook CF-18 touchscreen notebooks with GPS (Global Positioning Systems), a product designed to stand up to the rigours of field use. The latest Toughbooks have been deployed into the Environmental Services team working in the field throughout the Auckland region where they are used to manage, log and track daily water level projects.

“CF-18’s compact size makes this an ideal product” say the Auckland Regional Council.

Water is one of the Auckland region's most important resources. The Auckland Regional Council (ARC) assesses how much water can be safely taken from streams, lakes and groundwater (including geothermal) sources. ARC also protects water quality from being degraded via monitoring, investigations and by providing the framework for design and best management practices.

Toughbook from Panasonic is engineered to meet the demand of doing business on the road or in the office. The ARC invested in the CF-18s for their Environmental Services Officers who work in the field on a daily basis, often for many long hours. Their role is to inspect and monitor the environmental conditions such as flow of rivers, rainfall measurement from over 40 flow sites, 35 rainfall sites and approximately 60 groundwater sites. Their notebooks need to be able to handle a full day of work outside the office environment, from being thrown in the back of the ARC 4WD's, to being carried out to water monitoring sites in adverse weather conditions. What is absolutely necessary is hardware that can last the distance, handle the conditions of the vast Auckland region - from local inner city streams, to coast beaches, to the misty waterfalls in the Waitakere ranges.

How the Toughbooks are used

From the team meeting Matt grabs his Toughbook and heads out of the city in one of the ARC's big white 4WD's. In the dusty back are all the tools of trade; gumboots, mud covered hiking boots, ropes, rakes and of course his Toughbook, everything necessary to collect data from the various sites around the region. Toughbooks inherent ruggedness is designed to handle all conditions, the vibration and shock protected hard drive is superb especially on the drive over rough terrain, where the magnesium alloy case and shock mounted hard drive allows the units to withstand the constant vehicle movement and shock from driving 4WD tracks. It's this that prevents loss of vital information when a hard drive is damaged, one of the leading causes of notebook damage.

It is Toughbooks performance and reliability that is so important to the ARC. The team is out in all weather conditions, including damp and wet, gathering water monitoring and rainfall measurements - being able to work in these conditions to upload the local data is a critical requirement. "Toughbooks track record is great. Reliability is important and a Toughbook is a known brand in terms of ruggedness "says Matt. The ARC is confident in the fact Toughbook has been around for a while and have been happy with the product for many years. "We just know it's not going to die on you when you're out on the job".

More often than not the team are out all day. Tramping kilometres up the Waitakere ranges with a back pack for hours on end requires hardware that can handle being wet, take the knocks when a slip occurs yet be carried easily. "The size and weight of the Toughbook is great for this, especially having to squeeze into some tight spots to get the data reading, the CF-18's compact size makes this an ideal product for us. It's light and there are no worries if I slip over and get wet"

Each Toughbook has ruggedised features designed to prevent damage occurring in harsh outdoor working environments. The swivel LCD design that converts the Toughbook from a notebook to a rugged touchscreen Tablet PC makes data collection simple. With its daylight readable screen it's excellent to use in bright light and conversely, darkened bush conditions

The equipment also has to perform through long periods of use to meet the demands of constant data logging. Toughbooks superior battery gives on average 7-8 hours of life."Toughbooks are awesome and last a good day so we have no worries about losing battery power in the middle of data collection if we've just walked into the bush for a an hour".

The CF-18s exceed the ARC's tough requirements in terms of the long battery life, rugged hardwearing design, daylight readable and touchscreen for data entry. But it's the ruggedness that makes them a winner for the ARC "rain, dust and of course mud…it's not a problem!