Panasonic Toughbooks: Mind with muscle -Gunjan Sachdev

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Gunjan Sachdev, General Manager & National Business Head (Toughbook Division), Panasonic India

With a failure rate of less than 2 percent as against the market rate of up to 25 percent, Panasonic Toughpads are almost a natural choice as a rugged business device, says Gunjan Sachdev, in an interaction with Nirmal Anshu Ranjan of Elets News Network (ENN)

In keeping with changing business requirements, Panasonic has come up with Toughpads. The whole body is made of magnesium alloy, and the screen is also equally tough. Starting with designing, the entire process up to the production stage takes place in the company’s Japan facility. The best thing about Toughpads is that they are very reliable with a failure rate of less than 2 percent as compared to the market rate of 25 percent. Even if they slip from one’s hand or fall from the table, there is no chance of damage. They are also water, dust and shock-resistant. That makes them perfect for use by those who have to go out of the office for field job like those in manufacturing sector working in some assembly line, or the people in aviation sector, who have to take care of repairing and maintenance work. They can do lots of things through this device without bothering for it getting damaged.

Packed with features
Toughpads come with daylight readable anti reflective display touch screen. They can work in extreme temperatures  from -30 degree to +60 degree. That is, no matter which part of the country you are in, it works. Despite being a very rugged device, it’s very handy, weighing only 500 gms.

The company has taken special care of the battery life. Many a time, battery recharging facility is not available in the field, so they come with operating battery life of 10 to 16 hours, depending on the battery opted for.

Price of Panasonic Toughpads starts from Rs. 85,000. They come with different operating systems – Windows 8 or Android, screen sizes and other customisable devices, which determines the price. What’s more, these Toughpads come with three year warranty and five years of lifespan. So, it’s complete peace of mind.

“Following acceleration of the process of financial inclusion and e-governance in the country by the Narendra Modi Government, there is going to be a huge demand for Toughpad like devices, as the government and financial institutions needs to capture massive data”

Must for ‘safe cities’
Toughpads will supplement the Narendra Modi Government’s initiative to make cities safe and smart. These devices are proving very useful for security surveillance purposes. In fact, we are in talks with various security agencies, including police, who are modernising across the country. They are giving special thrust to modernising their PCR vans. Previously, they depended on voice-based communications only, but now they are banking more on MDTs (mobile data terminals) like Toughpads, as they carry inbuilt 3G, GPRS and GPS facilities. Using these facilities, they can communicate and send their data to the control room, apart from tracking the location of the PCR vans. It leads to faster crime detection process and in turn better productivity.

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Financial inclusion enabler
Following acceleration of the process of financial inclusion and e-governance in the country by the incumbent government, a huge demand for such devices is going to arise, as the authorities will need to capture massive data. They will need to go out to far off places for conducting surveys under adverse conditions, where rugged devices with customised features and long battery life will become a necessity. In fact we are already in talks for several government projects.

One important feature of this product is that it comes with a digitiser – looking similar to a stylus. It can be very helpful for the financial sector involved in the financial inclusion programme, as one can do on-the-spot digital signatures with its help. You can sign a form, take deposits or issue any kind of digitally signed receipt instantly by printing using WiFi or Bluetooth facility.

Biggest consumers
The company has sold about 50,000 units in India, mostly to the railways, defence departments, and survey and automobile sector. We offer them customised devices as per their requirements. In automobile sector, we have sold quite a few to service centres, where vehicles are diagnosed on various parameters through the inbuilt VCI (vehicle connect interface) facility of the Toughpads.

Similarly, survey departments across the country prefer it as they have to stay under very unfavourable conditions like rains or scorching heat, and there are chances of it slipping from one’s hand. But, it is built to sustain jerks of falling from four five feet height. Plus, in line with their requirement, these devices can work for long hours without having the need to recharge them again and again.

It has also come handy for the power sector maintenance staff. A Toughpad-equipped wind turbine engineer, for example, with fewer tools with him can now serve a larger number of turbines. So, that adds to enhanced productivity, too.

Perfect industrial tool
This is a perfect industrial tool. One does not need to move around with two-three similar devices, and numerous converters and connectors. Unlike most other devices, we offer several USB and other customisation ports according to the requirement of our clients, like LAN device, bar code reader, RFID, small-large screens, etc. So, instead of using several devices, just one will meet all the requirements.

Best in its class
The main competition comes from laptops and computers in the market. But things are changing fast because of both ease of carrying and the incredibly low failure rate. For example, while working in a workshop, the failure rate of a normal tablet of PC can go up to 30 percent. This leads to not just hidden repair costs, but also productivity losses. So, people are now becoming very clear about their preferences; they want a rugged device which can withstand heat, dust, water, etc. without having to spend every now and then on their repair.

India experience
Panasonic is a household name in India. So acceptability is not an issue. But customs duty is very high in India, which adds to the cost of the product. If you go to other AsiaPac regions, there is no duty or negligible. However, we are confident about our sale figures here, as the customers have started understanding the benefits of niche devices. That is why, be it government departments, private sector or public sector undertakings, all are accepting our products well, thus pushing the sales growth to 70 percent, year-on-year.

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Awareness challenge
Awareness among people is a big challenge while launching an innovative product. And, same is the case with Toughpads…awareness about these products is very less. Since it’s a very innovative and specialised product, people need to be informed. So, we hold do lots of exhibitions and seminars, and participate in industry-vertical exhibitions where we showcase our products. We recently participated in an Interpol expo, an auto exhibit in Pune and a survey-focussed event. The pace at which we are reaching out to our prospective clients should be able to give us 60-70 percent of the Indian market share very soon, as elsewhere on the globe.

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