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Vic water firm tests the water for tablets

After conducting trials, Victoria's South East Water has settled on the Motion Computing's F5v tablet to replace paper processes in its Trade Waste team and is now trialling the devices in three other departments.
Written by Suzanne Tindal, Contributor

After conducting trials, Victoria's South East Water has settled on the Motion Computing's F5v tablet to replace paper processes in its Trade Waste team and is now trialling the devices in three other departments.

Motion F5v

The Motion F5v tablet (Credit: Motion Computing)

The Trade Waste team keeps tabs on 8000 urban and rural customers across a variety of industries, including restaurants, shopping malls, wineries, factories and commercial buildings.

"That department didn't have any IT or computer-based practices, so we were replacing paper-based solutions," South East Water IT project manager Mark Skilton said in a statement.

"This is one area where paper-based systems were very inflexible; we needed to provide officers with access to real-time information, such as requests made on earlier customer visits. They used to have to print out or take paper notes from a previous visit, sometimes retyping and uploading pictures and information again."

The eight-week pilot had turned this on its head, gaining results.

"The technology has already won us a better reputation with customers, who can ask questions and get immediate answers via mobile wireless while the officer is there with them on-site," he said. "We can already see a significant reduction in paperwork and printing, approximately 30 per cent less even in this trial period."

The tablet was considered to be better than industry competitors, which include, for example, the Toshiba Toughbook.

"We looked at alternative solutions a couple of years ago, testing out laptops and other devices, but the trade waste inspectors do a lot of walking around and found them unsuitable to carry and work with," Skilton said.

The team ran proprietary software on the devices along with Microsoft's OneNote.

"The field inspectors like the predictive handwriting, the ability to use the tablets in the rain and in direct sunlight. Officers can also draw diagrams directly on screen on-site, and they take a lot of pictures, which can all be combined in the same OneNote file while on-site. The tablets are compatible with the latest Windows software, which is a familiar environment for our programmers rather than other mobile devices.

After the success of the pilot, the device is set to be trialled in three other departments within the organisation. The Trade Waste team is also considering using the tablets to help with testing water samples by dropping RFID tags into bottled samples, which can be read by RFID readers in the device. When those samples arrive at the laboratory, the RFID tag in the sample will allow information on the sample's collection to be linked to the results.

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