Well I don’t know about you but I’m still recovering from a massive Diamond Jubilee week here which was a well-earned break for us here at RAM. Back to work now and I wanted to finished the series off about batteries with a basic guide to formulating a battery strategy for your Rugged PDA’s.
Rather than create a strategy for you right here, which would be boring and a bit specific to be honest, I’ll go through the main areas you need to consider and ask about when deciding on what you need battery power-wise for your rugged or mobile deployment.
1. Determine Power Consumption
This is all about finding out how much battery power your rugged PDA’s and solution is going to use every day. You need to test here to get anywhere near accurate and consider the following areas:
Actual Rugged PDA power consumption
What are you using in terms of power-hungry hardware. GPS, 3G, GSM, WiFi, Bluetooth, Barcode scanning, RFID Reading? All of these will take an immense load of power to run. You need to understand what your users are going to be using the PDA for and assess whether you’re going to be a low or high user.
Check how much power your mobile solution and software application is using. Believe me, I’ve seen the same job scheduling application form 2 different software houses use 3 times the power simply because it wasn’t closing 3G connections down properly and managing power consumption.
Assess whether your users can charge mid-shift, or whether they need multiple batteries. basically this is about assessing how easily you can top up a battery.
Configuration and settings
This can make a big difference. Screen brightness, power and shutdown handling and all manner of device settings can also make for a big difference in the daily battery power you need. Your application can do a lot of this, or you can turn to Mobile Device Management style solutions to manage this for you.
2. Power Delivery
Once you have an idea of what battery power you’re going to need, you then need to work out how the user going to get this power. Some customers will incorporate this in to their device selection, making sure the device has a big battery to start with. Some will want lighter devices but can charge throughout the day via vehicle or domestic chargers. Some will want multiple batteries that are charged up over night. You need to assess how you will provide the power you need.
3. Battery lifespan
So you choose a small battery and charge it often throughout the day…sorted right?….Well not necessarily. You now have to consider the life span of your batteries and how you’ll replace them too. Li-ION batteries wear out just like any other battery and you need to understand the battery charge cycles they can handle to assess when they’ll be needing replacement. Also the way you need to charge will affect the battery lifespan, for instance trickle charging , charging fully and depleting fully can alter the life of a battery.
Lastly consider the environment you’re working in. Temperature affects batteries adversely, not only their lifespan can be reduced but their performance can be too, so that you might require a different strategy altogether. Check our last post here for some help on that!
So in a nutshell you need to check what power you need, work out your general user scenario, and then work out how you will deliver the power needed. If you get this right it can be the difference between a nightmare and a dream!
The Rugged and Mobile blog.