For almost 90 years, Zurich Engineering has been helping businesses identify, manage and control risk. As part of Zurich, a leading commercial insurer in the UK, the division’s 500 engineer surveyors perform upwards of 3.5 million safety inspections a year on items ranging from escalators, elevators and industrial machinery to kettles and computers. Zurich Engineering plays a vital role in ensuring that its customers protect their employees, the public and their businesses; Therefore, Zurich takes no risks when it comes to choosing a mobile computer for its surveyors.
Before the company rolled out a mobile computing solution its engineers would arrive on site and gather information for their reports, then drive home to complete each report on a desktop computer – a practice that wasted thousands of man hours every year. This practice changed in 2004 when Zurich deployed Panasonic’s Toughbook 18 fully-rugged convertible tablet computer. Using the Toughbook 18, work was completed on-site, leaving the engineer free to move on to the next task. John McMullen, Head of Operations and Systems for Zurich Engineering, estimates that the division recouped its £1 million investment in Toughbook computers within the first 8 months of use.
Along with full Windows capabilities, tablet functionality and a long battery life, ruggedization is a core requirement for Zurich Engineering. The division’s engineers may find themselves working on tower cranes, in manufacturing facilities, chemical works or foundries – even clinging to offshore wind turbines, in the harshest weather conditions. One of Zurich’s Toughbook computers, run over by a crane, sustained a cracked screen but its hard disk was still intact. “We just took the hard drive, put it in a new notebook, and the guy was up and running.” claims McMullen.
After five years of using Panasonic’s Toughbook 18 fully-rugged convertible laptop, the division is now betting squarely on the new Toughbook 19. The new convertible laptop brings further benefits to Zurich Engineering’s work, including improved 3G mobile communications and increased battery life.
Given the operating conditions Zurich’s approximately 500 Toughbook 18s were placed in, they saw very few failures. So, when making the switch to the Toughbook 19, Zurich didn’t consider other devices. According to McMullen, “the Toughbook 18s were reliable even in the most extreme conditions and required minimal IT support. Five years of service in a market like ours is impressive, to say the least. That level of reliability allowed us to maximize our return on investment.”
That’s not to say there has never been pressure to change devices. “We have had other manufactures try to sell us on their solutions, but no one has been able to show us a device that provides the mix of performance, reliability and value of the Toughbook brand,” McMullen added.
Zurich Engineering is delighted with its Toughbook laptops, and with the service and support it has received from Panasonic. “We worked with Panasonic to share ideas and decide how best to make the deployment successful. The Panasonic team was very open and supportive,” McMullen adds. In the end, though, one statement from an engineer equipped with a new Toughbook 19 says it all: “If you want it back, you’ll have to fight me for it!”
The full Zurich Engineering case study can be found here.