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What is Ruggedized Hardware, and Why Does it Matter?

Autonomous equipment can be pushed to extremes in the real world, whether it's a receiver bouncing its way down rows on a farm or a smart antenna knocking against tree branches on a busy worksite. And if it's not up to the rigors of any given environment, precision and accuracy can suffer — causing disruptions and workflow slowdowns.

To make sure efforts to streamline tasks and workflows go smoothly, Trimble makes sure its hardware — from boards to receivers to antennas — is “ruggedized” to take the punishment that today’s work environments dish out. For starters, every product we build at Trimble undergoes significant shock and vibration testing.

Using hundreds of hours of on-machine shock and vibration data, Trimble develops vibration profiles that enable our hardware to track satellites for continuous, reliable positioning required to reach your autonomous goals. This is critical, since external shock and vibration from on-machine applications can cause disruptions in signal tracking, producing a less-reliable positioning result.

At Trimble, our autonomy experts work with partners and third-party integrators to select the proper GNSS receiver and specs for their application. This ensures that any given solution — including the mounting selection — is primed to handle the jostling of harsh work environments. That includes antennas, which can be particularly susceptible, since they’re often perched high on a vehicle. For this reason, antennas such as the Zephyr 3 Rugged and the GA830 use metal lower housings and rubber bumpers for increased durability.

That’s just one way Trimble goes the extra mile to help you realize your autonomous potential. When it comes to making sure our solutions are tough enough to withstand nature's curveballs, from temperature extremes to torrential rain, and even salt water.

Extreme temperatures can affect products that haven’t been designed to withstand extremely hot or cold outdoor environments. Trimble GNSS autonomy-ready products are often designed with aluminum housing for its strength and ability to transfer heat away from internal components, enabling them to withstand environmental extremes. This is less of an issue for cold climates, as once a unit starts up, it generates its own heat, but it’s invaluable in hotter climates — even those along the equator, where hardware is often trapped inside machinery or vehicles where the heat soars. Our circuit boards, mounting of the circuit boards to the enclosure, and the material & form factor of the enclosure are all designed so that the enclosure will act as a “heatsink” to dissipate unwanted thermal energy.

The same high standards are applied for waterproofing, in an effort to ensure components are shielded from water — avoiding corrosion or short-circuiting of electronics. Trimble’s products adhere to a strict IP-67 rating as defined by international certification standards, which is the industry standard for protecting electronic components from water and other foreign debris. The IP acronym stands for Ingress Protection, and the numbers reflect the protection it provides from solids and liquids.

Decades of engineering experience has taught valuable design lessons about avoiding water ingress and corrosion. For instance, experience with moisture wicking caused by thermal variations have demonstrated the proper use of GORE vents, which we have applied for more than two decades. Ensuring that all bases are covered provides peace of mind for our customers that internal components will remain safe and dry, for optimal performance.

Using lower-rated hardware in harsh conditions — such as extreme temperatures, wet conditions or high shock and vibration environments — can result in damage, poor performance or even hardware failures. Ruggedized hardware is just one way that Trimble Autonomy enables advanced action in any environment — providing you with the momentum you need to exceed industry pace.

Talk with an autonomous customization expert today.