Intrinsic Safety / Mobility / Data Acquisition

Intrinsically safe tablet raises the bar

Class 1/Div. 1, Zone 1 tablet keeps current with commercial technology thanks to collaborative partnership

It's not easy to make devices intrinsically safe (IS) for service in hazardous and potentially explosive atmospheres. But, making them IS and easy to use in dangerous settings is even more difficult, so it helps to collaborate with friends.

This is just what Pepperl+Fuchs and its ecom brand did when they began working with Samsung four years ago to build their Tab-Ex 01 intrinsically safe tablet PC based on Samsung's ruggedized Tab Active platform. It was reported to be world's first LTE-enabled, Android tablet PC certified both Class I/Division 1 and ATEX Zone 1, and now their partnership has produced the second-generation Tab-Ex 02 DZ1 founded on Samsung's Galaxy Tab Active2.

"Even today, there aren't many devices that can be used in hazardous industrial environments or potentially explosive areas, so there's still a lot of pen and paper used in the field, which means double work and less accuracy due to manual data entry," says Lothar Berger, director of global mobile strategy at Pepperl+Fuchs. "Now, the advances made by tablet PCs like Tab-Ex 02 DZ1 are going where they couldn't before."

Scheduled to be available in early 2019, Tab-Ex 02 DZ1 features:

  • More capable, high-resolution 5-megapixel (MP) front camera and 8-MP, auto-focus rear camera.
  • Ruggedized, IP68-certified, water- and dust-resistant S Pen stylus for harsh environments, use on wet displays, and access for users wearing gloves.
  • Faster, 1.6-GHz Exynos 7 Octa-Core (Cortex-A53) microprocessor; updated Android Oreo 8.1 operating system (OS); and 3 gigabytes (GB) of RAM, plus 16 GB memory, and up to 256 GB with external microSD card.
  • Onboard sensors including accelerometer, gyro, geomagnetic, Hall effect, RGB light, proximity and fingerprint.
  • Connectivity including 2.4-5 GHz WiFi, WiFi Direct, Bluetooth 4.2, and 300-Mbps LTE Cat. 6.
  • 8-in., 1,280 x 800-pixel (WXGA), glove-touchable screen for wet settings.
  • Security with Knox 2.8 facial recognition software.
  • -20 °C to 55 °C temperature range.
  • 4,450 mAh battery with up to 11-hour life, replaceable via a back panel.
  • Side-mount Pogo pins for charging.
  • Enterprise Firmware Over-the-Air (eFOTA) for testing before deployments, so enterprises have control over OS versions on employee devices.

"Over the past three or four years, mainstream tablet PCs like Tab Active2 gained faster processors, better cameras, higher durability and other advances, which can now be transferred to Tab-Ex 02, and provide up-to-date, ruggedized tablet PC technology in its most modern form," explains John Gibson, head of business development for manufacturing verticals at Samsung Electronics America. "This includes a mil spec 810 G rating for resistance to 21 different environmental attributes."

Berger reports Tab-Ex 02 DZ1 will be available in two primary versions, including Class 1/Division 1 with flame-proof housing for use in atmospheres that are likely to be explosive, and Class I/Division 2 with ruggedized Samsung housing and protective glass for atmospheres that usually aren't explosive. "Class I/Division 1 and flame-proof housing traditionally means big metal enclosures, but now we can use resistant materials, engineering and testing to achieve this rating with Tab-Ex 02 DZ1, even as its internal electronics behave the same," he explained.

Once users have Tab-Ex 02 DZ1 in hand, Gibson reports local personnel and remote experts can collaborate more easily. "The local technician can shoot a picture with Tab-Ex 02 DZ1's camera, showing the device that's broken or needs service, and superimpose an image of how it's supposed to be," explains Gibson. "They can also collaborate in sessions like using a virtual whiteboard because they can draw on the images on each other's screens. This can be helpful in petrochemical facilities, where local technicians may not have all the expertise they need, and even some remote experts may not be qualified to be in all hazardous areas. Now, users can get the best of both worlds."

For information, visit www.ecom-ex.com.

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