Ten Tips to Protect Your Field Service Technology at a Job SiteBy My Service Depot on Thursday, August 6, 2020
Your mobile technology represents a significant investment. Keep it safe to extend its lifespan!
Do you have someone on your team notorious for bringing back devices (smart phones and tablets) in a mangled state? Have you had your fill of repair bills for the technology your team uses at a job site? If so, you may wish to review these easy-to-follow guidelines to ensure the safety of your devices in the field.
1. Always use a case.
This should go without saying, but the number one way to protect any device is to provide a physical layer of protection from the outside world. Cases provide protection from some of the most common mishaps that lead to damaged devices. These include drops, water damage, and heat exposure. Cases also offer protection from small, sedimentary pieces of debris penetrating their delicate tolerances for dust, etc. Those small particles may seem insignificant, but they can lead to the failure of key functions of your device, such as charging or toggling the screen on and off. Investing in a case for your mobile device or laptop will save you a lot of time and money in the future.
2. Always use screen protectors.
Right after protecting your device with a case comes protecting your device’s screen with a screen protector. While some cases come with screen protectors, a large majority only offer protection to the body of your device, leaving the screen susceptible to scratches and cracking. While on a job site, your device will probably eventually find itself accelerating towards the ground in some way or the other. The screens of most devices today take up a significant portion of the device’s surface area. As a result, they can very easily become damaged when your device makes impact with the ground. Many of the screen protectors available are made with glass that can withstand such collisions, or, at the very least, absorb the damage, leaving your screen unscathed. While dropping your phone is the easiest way to render your screen useless, scratches can also yield the same result. A well placed scratch can lead to some portions of your screen losing functionality.
3. Keep charging devices near the outlets and keep cables away from high traffic areas.
This is a big one for laptops! At any given work site, there can be a number of people moving from one location to another. Areas with a lot of foot traffic should be “No Charge Zones” if at all possible. The reason? Most of the people moving around a job site—whether a technician or customer—will remain completely oblivious to charging cables laying in high traffic areas. Individuals that don’t pay close enough attention may trip and fall over ill-placed cables, potentially causing damage not only to themselves but to the charging device as well. Ports can become damaged from the abrupt extraction of the charging cable, or the device can go flying and get damaged on impact. To avoid this, keep charging devices as close to outlets as possible. If the device needs to rest in a high traffic area (such as a laptop that contains plans for your team to reference), disconnect any cables and avoid the tripping hazard.
4. Don’t bring devices at all.
Another easy way to avoid trips to your favorite electronics repair store? Refrain from bringing unnecessary devices to job sites. It is very tempting in this day and age to keep our devices with us at all times, but there are situations where not having a device for the duration of a job will be more beneficial. It may seem sufficient to place your mobile device in your pocket, or your laptop on a surface away from the main workspace, but job sites are often unpredictable! Leaving your phone or laptop in your vehicle (out of direct sunlight of course) can help you make sure that your devices don’t end up as collateral damage after an unexpected job site incident.
5. Keep devices out of direct sunlight.
If you work outside, make sure to keep your device out of direct sunlight. Extreme temperatures are the worst enemy to the internals of many electronic devices. Unless otherwise stated by the manufacturer, these devices were designed to operate under normal conditions. The interior of your vehicle can easily reach 100 degrees on a sunny day; some surfaces, such as your dash, get exposed to direct sunlight and can exceed temperatures of 157 degrees, effectively frying some of the electronic components of your device. Consider placing your device under your seat or in the glove compartment of your car to keep them out of reach of the sun’s harmful radiation.
6. Keep clear of water/mist/rain.
While this may seem obvious to most, keeping your device away from moisture is a must! Today’s mobile devices and laptops can handle light splashing, giving some a false sense of security when it comes to moisture. Still, most devices cannot withstand prolonged exposure to moisture. If your job site will expose your device to moisture, take tip #1 a step further and get a waterproof case (remain wary of “water resistant” cases). Even better, follow tip 4 and don’t bring your device to the job site at all! Unfortunately for laptops, options for waterproof cases are limited and usually VERY bulky. If you will work in an environment that has lots of moisture and requires a laptop, invest in a completely waterproof device.
7. Keep devices as low as possible.
If you must absolutely have a device at your job site, one of the easiest ways to protect your device involves keeping it as low to the ground as possible. Gravity can pose a devastating foe to an electronic device, and the only way to make gravity a non-factor is to keep the device free of potential energy. Take your phone with you to the top of a roof and you risk it slipping out of a pocket to meet its demise to the ground below! If you cannot avoid elevation, consider leaving your device somewhere safe near the ground.
8. Keep the device clean.
A clean device is a happy device! There are countless ways your device can end up getting dirty at a job site. In order to keep your mobile device or laptop functionally sound, regular cleaning becomes necessary. Keeping dirt and debris from accumulating between buttons and ports will prevent issues with charging and responsiveness. If a device is not regular cleaned, it can lead to early retirement.
9. Update your device regularly.
This tip often gets overlooked because it does not relate to the physical safety of your device. However, software/firmware updates are a key component in maintaining the data and functionality of your device. There are individuals out there who make it their life’s work to find vulnerabilities in older device firmware versions so they can easily steal personal/company information from devices that have not been updated. Teams of engineers at every electronics manufacturer play a constant game of cat and mouse with these infiltrators and regularly release updates that help keep your data secure. To protect yourself, make sure your device stays up to date. Make sure you have automatic updates enabled for all of your applications and your device’s firmware. In addition, check that your device is up to date at least once a month, and make sure your automatic updates are actually taking place!
10. Repair/replace damaged components.
Inevitably, something will get damaged on your device if it is a frequent guest at field service job sites. The key here is to take care of small issues while they are still small issues! For example, buttons on a laptop are notorious for getting easily damaged by debris that finds its way underneath the key cap and near its connectors. Continuing to use an obstructed button could cause your button to become damaged to the point of no repair. So, if you notice a problem with your device, get it resolved right away, or you might find yourself looking for a new one to replace it!
The technology we use at a job site represents a major investment. As a business owner, it makes sense to maximize the return on investment you get out of your devices. The best way to do this? Keep your existing devices safe and functional. By following the steps above, you will increase the longevity of your devices and avoid unnecessary repair bills or device replacement costs.