You’ve been tasked with purchasing computers for your company, a manufacturer whose parts and services are found throughout the oil and gas industry. The computers must work in diverse settings, like remote deserts, and for different purposes. Is there such a PC that can work in many places and is versatile enough for various applications?

The answer is yes. In today’s article, we break down the buying process by covering the three sectors of the oil and gas industry, traits you’ll need for your industrial computer, and finally, the three most common ones to choose from. 

How Are Computers Used in the Oil and Gas Industry?

The Oil and Gas (O&G) industry is divided into three sectors called “streams.” Upstream looks at potential sites for crude oil and natural gas. Midstream moves, stores, and processes these raw materials from the sites. Finally, Downstream is responsible for refining the oil and gas into petroleum products and their distribution and retail sales. 

The way computers are used in each stream will differ. Here are a few common ones. 


Computers aid in the Upstream by:

  • Increasing remote operations. Technologies like remote maintenance support and the Internet of Things (IoT) allow surveyors to check up on monitoring equipment only as needed. 
  • Improving equipment performance and reliability. Remote search and surveyance equipment is monitored in real time. Any issues can be quickly spotted and dealt with, reducing maintenance expenses. 
  • Digital twin creation. O&G companies can use digital twin virtual models of their physical assets to run scenarios on everything from discovering new deposits to how finances are affected by a full oil rig fire.  


Computers in the Midstream aim to:

  • Meet government regulations. Parties in the Midstream, such as rail and oil ships, are kept up to date on all related laws, like greenhouse gas limits.
  • Assure investors. Increased pressure from environmentalists, governments, and competitors using alternative energy sources have investors nervous about O&G. Companies can lower that nervousness by optimizing business processes, identifying loopholes, and cutting production costs without sacrificing quality.
  • Improve Communication with all participants. Midstream companies and their partners should have easy-to-access means of staying in touch. A field technician reporting to a waiting oil truck via an industrial tablet is one way to do so. 


O&G uses computers in the Downstream to:

  • Stay green. Natural gas flare-ups and leaks can create vast amounts of carbon emissions. Oil and gas companies in the Downstream can use technologies like cloud computing and AI to detect and prevent such problems.  
  • Improve worker safety. Stopping and restarting oil refineries is dangerous for on-site crews, as gas and other hazardous materials are released at those times. Plant remote control and IoT can reduce the risks during these processes. 
  • Reach online customers. Many customers of oil and gas products spend a lot of time online. O&G is turning to social media and related digital platforms like electronic billboards and kiosks to reach them. 

Why You Want Industrial Computers in Oil and Gas 

Off-the-shelf consumer computers are not built to meet the challenges of many of the three streams. You’ll need to look at industrial computers designed from the ground up and have certain traits to meet those challenges. Look for these traits when purchasing computers for your company.

Resistance to hazardous chemicals: Computers in places like Midstream and Downstream oil rigs must withstand the hazardous chemicals on such sites. A rated IP65 sealed front bezel and fanless design prevent those hazards from entering the computer and causing havoc. 

Vibration resistance: Heavy machinery is found throughout the industry. The Midstream, where crude oil and natural gas are processed into usable products, is filled with companies running machines in one capacity or another. The vibrations from the machines can quickly destroy off-the-shelf consumer desktop PCs. Thanks to their rugged design and build, industrial computers can withstand such conditions. 

Weatherproof: In challenging settings like deserts or water locations, desktop computers may have to deal with elements like high temperatures or humidity. Again, rugged design and industrial parts make sure they work just fine. 

Longevity: In all three streams, computers are expected to be working 24 / 7 in many places and times. Oil refineries in the Midstream can be running for years. Unlike consumer computers, industrial PCs are up to the task. 

Legacy compatibility: Many machines used up and down the streams have been there for years. While the machines continue to work, most are no longer supported by their original manufacturers. Such “legacy” devices are usually incompatible with today’s off-the-shelf computers. Industrial PCs with legacy ports like parallel connectors can connect with machines to provide advantages such as cybersecurity. 

Right Computers for the Oil and Gas Industry: What to Look For

The industrial computers for O&G vary in shape, size, and features to handle their particular use in a stream. Your final decision is determining which combination works best for your workflow. 

Among the streams, industrial panel PCs are primarily used as desktop computers. For example, companies in the Upstream may use them to view digital twins of facilities located in the deep desert, and technicians in the Midstream may monitor crude oil transportation across miles of pipelines. 

Thanks to their portability, industrial tablets have many uses across the three streams. Researchers in the Upstream can use them in the field to record data. Downstream, forklift operators can set them to record inventory as they load and unload new inventory. 

The size, form, and features of industrial mini PCs make them perfect for machinery requiring little human intervention, such as automation. An example is computer systems that monitor and circulate drilling fluids in Upstream operations. 

Keep Oil and Gas Streams Flowing with Cybernet

The diverse oil and gas industry poses many challenges to electronics like computers due to its three streams’ diversity and distinctive, yet linked, purposes. Industrial computers meet those challenges, having been built from the ground up with features like rugged design and fanless cooling systems. 

If your business is looking for an industrial tablet solution, contact the team at Cybernet Manufacturing. We would happily explain how our industrial computers, tablets, and mini PCs can be customized to suit your business needs regardless of location among the O&G streams.

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