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Spirit Data Capture Limited, the independent data collection consultancy, has won a contract with E.ON UKs  Energy Services division.  The agreement involves the purchase of hundreds of Dolphin 9500 mobile computers for capturing data from gas and electricity meters.

Energy Services is the UKs leading provider of cost-effective metering and data collection solutions.  Each year, its staff visit over 12 million households nationwide.  Its Metering Services section recently started to explore alternative data capture devices.

David Collard, Head of Technical Support, Data Retrieval, explains: We were looking for a rugged device that is ergonomically designed, and to which we could add complementary technology.  We also wanted to find a hardware supplier who could work closely with our software supplier, Logica CMG.

E.ONs Procurement team shortlisted potential suppliers.  One of these Spirit Data Capture suggested a solution based around the Dolphin 9500, a versatile mobile computer from Hand Held Products.  The 9500 incorporates wireless technology; an industry-leading triple-radio design, an Intel X-Scale processor, a Microsoft Windows Pocket PC platform, and Hand Held Products Adaptus imaging system.  It is ideal for mobile applications, as it is very rugged, and has a high power capacity battery.

David continues: We opted for the Dolphin following our meter reader evaluation trials.  We like its robustness, its ergonomics, and the processor it uses.  It also works well with the Logica meter reading software.

Energy Services plans to roll out several hundred Dolphins each year for the next three years.  Initially, meter readers will use their own modems to transmit the collected data from the Dolphin, which will be placed in a home base overnight.  Ultimately, GPRS will be used to transmit the data instantly from the field.  The unit will also receive details of jobs online.

David says: The reliability of the Dolphins should reduce both downtime and repair costs.  We also expect to achieve significant cost savings by using GPRS.  We really like the faster processor, the availability of both Bluetooth and GPRS, and the Pocket PC operating system.  He adds: Spirit have been helpful, willing and proactive throughout.  We found their attitude to customer service very refreshing.

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