EDF Energy is the first utility company in the UK to buy Panasonic Toughpad tablets aimed at the £12 billion national smart meter rollout programme.
The 1,000 Toughpad FZ-G1 Windows 8 tablets will be used by EDF 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.
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 will be sent automatically to EDF Energy and consumers will receive an accurate energy bill without having to submit meter readings.
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 short-range wireless technology, which EDF Energy and Panasonic are jointly developing, based on industry standard specifications for secure connections to smart metering equipment.
ZigBee as a wireless standard became available over 10 years ago, and other firms in various industries are using it to develop their own short-range wireless applications for personal area networks (PANs).
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."