MIL Standard Rugged Tests

So in this penultimate week of our mammoth Ruggedness month we’re delving into the world of MIL tests. Just what do they mean and how do they help prove a rugged PDA is fit for a harsh environment? Well today we’re looking at the MIL and explaining just what it is, where it came from and why it can be useful.

Where did MIL STD 810 come from?

So firstly where did MIL come from and just what are it’s credentials?  Well, as you may have guessed from the name, MIL STD tests are a set of tests that the US Military designed to check any equipment it used was up to scratch. Although performed in laboratory conditions, the tests are designed to create various harsh environments that devices can be tested in to see how resilient they are. Although the tests are many in number, we’re most interested in a set grouped by the MIL-STD-810 section as this set of tests are specifically useful for smaller rugged style electronic devices. You’ll also see an F or more recently a G at the end of the standard and this is simply the revision number of the test set.  G is the latest update but due to the life cycle of rugged kit being so much longer, you’ll still some MIL-STD-810F testing on spec sheets.

Who sets the standard?

At the end of the day the MIL standards are a set of guidelines only.  The MIL documentation sets out some very rigorous tests, with some extremely detailed methods that can be adopted by anyone at all to create an environment or test themselves.  MIL has not only become a standard way of testing rugged devices by many manufacturers but also resellers, distributors and anyone with an interest or passion in selling the kit. So to be clear, the standard isn’t governed, it’s not law and there’s no-one watching who gives you a certificate at the end.  MIL-STD 810G testing is performed solely by those interested in it, often behind closed doors, but often the tests are published as in the case here by Winmate.


Well the obvious benefits of the system is that it creates a standard that all manufacturers could adopt. Regardless of the complexity of the results, this would at least give consumers a better set of standards to judge ruggedness by. Add to this the breadth of the tests give a better all round ruggedness performance of a device, rather than using drop spec and IP ratings on their own.  This can lead to understanding whether a certain Rugged handheld, for example, would be better in a certain set of enterprise work scenarios. personally we’d like to see MIL or something similar adopted but only with an understanding that each and every device will be great in some areas and poor in others along with a clear set of benefits to consumers so they know which set of devices they should be starting their choice journey on,

Potential gotcha’s

There are some Achilles heels you need to be careful of:

  • Because testing is not moderated in any way it is open to interpretation so tests can be unintentionally interpreted differently or even changed to suit.
  • Testing is performed in house, largely without any real transparency. Even those who publish don;t give out any results on tests that might have failed or the number of attempts they needed to pass one.
  • Beware test overload! Some tests are simply bamboozling customers in our humble opinion. They might look impressive on a spec sheet but what the heck do they really mean and the benefits are often lacking.
  • Don’t forget these are US based military standards and not everyone flies the US flag!!  so they are often simply not done. This is no measure of lack of ruggedness of a device.

So there we go, in the next blog we’ll talk about all the different tests you can do under the MIL-STD-810G and take a look at the benefits this could bring you as a business.

One Response