EDF Energy today became the first utility company in the UK to buy Panasonic Toughpad tablets for its Smart Meter rollout programme. The 1,000 Toughpad FZ-G1 Windows 8 tablets will be used by field operatives to receive and send job information for smart meter installation work. The UK Government has said all 53 million meters in 30 million homes in England, Wales and Scotland should be replaced with smart meters by 2020.

Smart meters are the next generation of gas and electricity meters. The new meters take accurate readings of energy usage every day and, combined with a smart energy monitor, show how much energy is being used in pounds and pence. These readings are automatically sent to EDF Energy and consumers receive an accurate energy bill without having to submit meter readings.  Smart meters will help consumers gain a better understanding of the energy they use every day, putting them in control of their energy consumption.

EDF Energy smart meter field operatives will be using the Panasonic Toughpad tablets to receive scheduling information during the day and to send installation information back to the office. The tablet includes a camera and barcode reader for capturing digital images or scanning of the smart meter system’s assets. The device will be equipped with ZigBee wireless technology which EDF Energy and Panasonic are jointly developing, based on Industry Standard specifications for secure connections to smart metering equipment.

Niels Roberts, Smart Metering Programme Director at EDF Energy said: “The Toughpad is the ideal device for our large scale smart metering roll-out because it is robust and resilient, yet light and easy to handle. The touch screen makes it easier for our field operatives to capture and input essential data, which will provide innovative options for engaging our customers and providing the best possible experience for them”.  

Paul Davidson, Corporate Sales Manager - Utilities, Oil & Telcommunications at Panasonic Toughpad, added: The Panasonic Toughpad FZ-G1 tablet was selected because it perfectly balances mobility with durability and provides a range of professional service options to meet the needs of operatives in the field. The Toughpad promises a range of benefits over existing PDA-style devices, including robustness of the product, a much bigger screen with easy to use multi touch and gesture based computing, all wrapped up in a long life battery device with the look and feel of a modern tablet device.  We look forward to working with EDF Energy to jointly develop the Zigbee functionality”.

Launched in January 2013, the Toughpad FZ-G1 is Panasonic’s first fully rugged Windows 8 Pro tablet, which has been designed for mobile workers who spend much of their time working outside or in vehicles. The thin and lightweight device, weighing only 1.1kg, has been designed to take full advantage of the new functionality offered by the Windows 8 Pro operating system and offers two-way touch input with its capacitive 10-finger multi-touch screen and digitizer pen for tasks such as recording signatures.

The first fully rugged device to use the latest IPSα Panel technology, developed by Panasonic, the FZ-G1 provides new levels of viewing quality for tablet users working outside. The 10.1” Full HD (1920x1200) Resolution screen is purpose built to perform in any light conditions.

The Panasonic Toughpad FZ-G1 has a MIL-STD-810G rating to cope with 120cm drops as well as an IP65 ingress protection rating for resistance to dust and water.

With built-in battery saving technology such as its ambient light sensor, the Toughpad FZ-G1 can operate for 8 hours on its standard 6-cell battery and with an optional 9-cell battery can run for 16 hours. Batteries can also be switched in the field to ensure the device is operational as long as the user requires it and offering businesses better total cost of ownership than traditional tablets.

The FZ-G1 comes with a high quality HD 720p front web camera as standard and optional 3MP rear camera with double flash capability for clear document, asset or site photos whatever the light conditions.

Using its Flexible Configuration Ports, the device can be configured exactly for the needs of the business, offering USB 2.0, Micro SD, True Serial port, LAN Connector, GPS and integrated smartcard reader optional. USB 3.0, Bluetooth® 4.0, HDMI and Wireless LAN capabilities are standard.

The Toughpad is powered by 3rd generation Intel® Core™ i5-3437U vPro™ 3MB cache, 1.9GHz, up to 2.9GHz with Intel® Turbo Boost Technology and comes with 4GB of RAM  and 128GB SSD as standard with a 256GB SSD option.

For further information on the Toughbook product range visit www.toughbook.eu.