Thursday, 24 March 2011 16:33

Wade Ford Atlanta Chooses an Alternative Diagnostic Solution

Automobiles today are sophisticated and are controlled by a series of internal computer systems, which means the diagnostics require specific software and hardware.

On top of that the basic service environments have not changed. They are still fraught with grime and potential hazards that could damage the diagnostic equipment. We now need digital diagnostics equipment that will withstand these normal daily service bay environmental issues and today ruggedized notebook computers fill that bill very well.

That is one of the reasons Wade Ford of Atlanta, Georgia decided to switch from PDAs to ruggedized laptops for diagnostic and reprogramming purposes.

Ford no longer supported the PDA application, so Wade needed new durable notebooks to connect to the cars.

“The reason we needed a rugged notebook was because of the environment they are used in—where the technicians are using them is an open environment. They really just need to be able to be bumped around and not go down,” said Dave Tackett, Controller of Wade Ford.

Initially, the only solution Ford provided was Panasonic Toughbooks. Despite Toughbook’s excellent reputation, Wade Ford felt that the product was too pricey for them.

So Tackett researched alternatives online and talked to others in the field before finding the Eagle rugged series from a 10-year old established provider of rugged portable devices called Rugged Notebooks.com.

“I knew there had to be other rugged notebooks out there besides the Toughbook. I had heard of Dell having one, but again it was too expensive. Rugged Notebooks’ Eagle pretty much fit the bill for what I needed. For the price of one Toughbook, I could get two Eagles!”

Of course ruggedness and price were important factors in Wade Ford’s decision to choose an alternative solution, but the ability to run Ford’s proprietary software program was also a primary concern.

With Rugged Notebooks Eagle, the technicians were able to easily install the software, and Tackett simply made sure it was connected to their in-house system.

“We have to connect two vehicles through a Ford proprietary link and all the diagnostics, all the reprogramming, goes through that connectivity. So we had to have a laptop to make the connection, but a regular laptop wasn’t going to work because the technician transfers data around.”

Tackett said there are 4000 Ford dealers in the U.S. and all using the same application. He recommends that all of them consider switching to the Eagle as a lower cost rugged solution.

“The price-point was the biggest deal, and the fact that it was rugged. The only extra thing I purchased was the touch screens, which the technicians really seemed to like,” explained Tackett. “They like them because the screens are quite a bit bigger than they were on the Toughbooks that Ford was suggesting.”

But here is the real bottom line. When asked how the Rugged Notebook Eagle laptops have improved his efficiency, Tackett had this to say, “If we don’t have them, we can’t do work. That’s just about as simple as it gets.”

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