Industry 4.0 has seen exponential advancement in technological solutions across so many sectors, not only revolutionising the way that people work but expanding on what is possible. Digitalisation has shifted operations from pen-to-paper to computerised solutions, and the world of automation and analytics has propelled efficiency, safety and productivity.

Every sector presents its own challenges, and the defence industry is no different, so how can the industry utilise rugged computing solutions to keep their operations running as effectively as possible?

Army Technology spoke with rugged computing manufacturer Getac about its rugged devices and bespoke engineering solutions and exactly how they’re moving the defence industry slowly but surely into industry 4.0

According to Getac’s business development manager for defence, Rob Apple: “When it comes to digitalisation in the military, some advancements may not transfer across as quickly as the systems they have are often quite old. The military only just moved to Windows 10 in the last 18 months/two years. So one of the things that we are offer, because we have our own software engineers, is supporting legacy systems or legacy products.”

He continues: “The difference with the military sector is that they take devices into a battlefield, which sounds obvious, but it’s more than that. When you look at the other areas of a military operation, such as health care behind the front line, they still need the same capability as a normal hospital would.

“They have aircraft. They’ve got transportation. They’ve got fuel needs. They have people going around maintaining vehicles, maintaining equipment. The only difference in what we provide for the defence sector is that it can be in a dangerous or battleground environment.”

Commanders can make more informed field decisions using Getac devices that are configurable with military data interfaces and encrypted communication, as well as access a web of networks, storage devices, servers and analysis software. Additionally, with so many factors involved in mission planning, anything that can be done by rote is welcome. Many Getac products for defence can be automated through the development of common components and software and shared across all platforms – such as aircraft and smart munitions.

Military operations rely on efficient and effective management to oversee transportation, tactical logistics and vehicle maintenance to ensure that vehicles are ready to be deployed and are communicating with their line of command. Getac MIL-461F certified devices allow ground forces to track and communicate with vehicles on the frontline. In cases of medical emergencies, Getac mobile solutions allow medical forces to access patient histories and forward casualty resuscitation information.

Getac’s bespoke engineering offers complete system integration that meets military security requirements, offering customisations such as custom BIOS settings, asset tagging, and incorporation/installation of military connectors and legacy interfaces. Its computing solutions deliver high powered processing and reliability in adverse environments, as well as rugged casing to protect devices taken into the field.

However, no matter how rugged the device, in such hostile environments, equipment is exposed to numerous hazards that can result in devices breaking or failing. So should military operations have to worry about repeatedly needing to rebuy and replace their rugged devices?

According to Apple, though, this doesn’t need to be the case: “We have bumper-to-bumper warranty that comes with all of our rugged devices. It covers everything – anything you can think of it will cover. We have examples with customers where devices have been crushed by tanks, flung across aircraft hangers after being left on helicopter rotors. ”

“They then bring that to us,” he continues, “and we handle it. It’s a huge differentiator for Getac from our competitors – how comprehensive it is and that it covers everything aside from malicious damage.

“With some of our competitors, the display can only be repaired in a three-year warranty window, or the warranty will be pulled if there is repeated damage from the same fleet. With Getac you’re getting superior products, incredible service and incomparable warranty coverage.”