Industrial computers are best equipped to work under the challenging working environments because they are built from the ground up to withstand the conditions that are not electronics-friendly. We can define such challenging working environments as anything that surpasses the norms of your typical controlled workspace such found in the office, school, library, retail store, or even hospital.
The challenging working environments in the industrial sector vary greatly and can be characterized by higher or lower temperatures than that of an indoor installation. Notably, when we speak about temperatures and the ability of the industrial computers to withstand the higher and the lower temperature margins, we should also inquire into the possibility of the temperature fluctuations. For example, when your industrial computer or rugged tablet is exposed to colder temperatures outside in the field and significantly warmer temperatures in the engineer’s vehicle or tent. Assuming your technical workers carry a rugged tablet from the tent and into the cold, the temperature fluctuation is abrupt and causes condensation. How will your iPad or Android tablet behave if you subject it to such frequent temperature fluctuations? Rugged tablets are built with such temperature fluctuations in mind, so the condensation or cold/heat do not affect the internal electronics. Industrial computers, too, are enclosed in a rugged casing that withstands extreme temperatures and protects the discreet parts from their destructive effects.
Temperature is not the only factor contributing to the ruggedness of the workspace. Humidity and exposure to liquid spills, splashes, liquid cleaning, or the need to function in the outdoor settings where it can rain is also a part of the normal operational needs in the industrial sector. The industrial computers, therefore, are liquid proof and have a sturdy casing that does not disintegrate if you clean it with a chemical solution.
Dust and Debris
On the contrary, if dust and other harmful particles find their way inside your computer, its lifespan shortens and its performance can be hindered. Industrial computers design takes into account the dusty, greasy and oily environments we can find in the food, beverage, restaurant industries, and other industrial settings, such as oil and gas. The fanless design and IP65 sealed, rugged casing keeps the dust, oil, grease and other harmful debris at bay.
Shock and Vibration
Vibration is, perhaps, one of the main characteristic features of the industrial workspace, be it on the construction site, on the manufacturing floor, or in the warehouse where the forklifts work. Needless to say, the off-the-shelf computers, when used in such environment, tend to fail significantly faster than if you use them in the office. The industrial computer, on the other hand, come with the solid state drive technology, and MIL-STD certified components and a rugged enclosure – all of which protect the electronics from the destructing effects of the excessive vibration and shock exposure.
Altitude, Solar Radiation
Solar radiation and altitude have a significant effect on the electronic products, and industrial computers use the different type of material and a design that stands up to a higher level of expectations than the consumer-grade computers. Unlike the MTBF of the discreet parts of the industrial computers, the MTBF of the discreet parts of the consumer PCS drops significantly when the PCs are exposed to high altitudes in the mountains, underground installations in the mining industry or excessive UV index, especially during the prolonged periods.
For some reason, when most people think about rugged, industrial environments, they tend to focus on the temperature, humidity, and vibration, whereas the location or the distance from the headquarters also translates into a factor of the ruggedness. Be in underground, high in the mountain, far in the field, or out in the desert or the sea, your industrial computers need advanced connectivity and electrical and radiation safety to ensure a) your installations are connected and the data keeps syncing, b) the safety of your installations and workers, c) the safety and longevity of your industrial computer, if it is exposed to power outages and current fluctuations.
Therefore, the industrial computers possess the advanced connectivity options – wireless WAN and LAN capabilities, 3G, 4G, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi. As long as the rugged tablets are concerned, they cannot be locked to a specific wireless carrier, and allow for GSM or CDMA connectivity without being dependent on a specific provider. The electrical and radiation safety is ensured with MIL-STD rated components and a variety of stringent certifications adopted internationally.
Space constraints also create a challenge the industrial computers need to address. Organizations often need to mount computers in rather small areas with very limited air circulation that can cause the overheating of a regular computer. Industrial computers rely on the fanless design that uses the passive cooling system. This build has several benefits. First, there are less moving parts in the computer, so its lifespan increases. Second, no harmful particles or dust penetrate the enclosure. Third, this configuration consumes significantly less power to cool down and run. Therefore, industrial computers are also energy-efficient, saving companies significant amounts in power consumption.
More so, if you need a robust industrial computer that is smaller than your typical installations. So, industrial computers address the challenge of space constraints with a variety of sizes and customizable configurations. The latter address, aside from small form factor in mini rugged PCs, the compatibility challenges with legacy systems and interfaces.
Customization Is A Must
So, customization is another way industrial computers address the need to adapt to challenging working environments. Industrial computers come with VESA mount options, legacy ports, dual hard drive support, Windows/Linux support, and a wealth of customizable parameters from hard drive to RAM and video card, or storage capacity. The ability of rugged computers and tablets to interface with a growing variety of complex networks of software and equipment is one of their decisive advantages achieved through customization.
There is more to the industrial environment than the physical parameters. Namely, the worker safety, data integrity, security, and the sustainability. The worker safety is ensured with stringent tests and certifications, such as MIL-STD rated discreet components, IP65 rating, waterproof bezels, 60601-1 electrical and radiation safety, IEEE, or EN 50155 vibration protection, and many other certifications. If a device is not built with these intrinsic safety features from the ground up, it is not apt for use in the challenging working environments.
Data Integrity and Safety
Data integrity is ensured with the protection against current fluctuations, backup batteries and dual hard drive (SSD) technology and advanced connectivity for timely sync. On the other hand, data security features of industrial computers ensure the data is accessible only to authorized personnel and applications. With industrial espionage and ransomware rates increasing in all industries, cyber security issues cannot be ignored. Therefore, advanced authentication options, such as CAC/ Smart Card reader, biometric authentication with a fingerprint scanner, RFID Imprivata SSO coupled with Windows Professional user authentication features, sandboxing, encryption and remote administration offer the high level of security for your corporate data.
Future-proof sustainability is another crucial advantage of robust industrial computers and rugged tablets. As your workflow evolves and you add more devices and interfaces to the system, your industrial computers need to be able to accommodate your growing needs in capacity, performance, and compatibility. The trend toward the implementation of Big Data, IoT, predictive analytics and everything AI means your industrial computers will need more processing power sometime during their realistic, expected life cycle. Will you be able to upgrade them? Will the manufacturer offer spare parts, extra ports or other upgrade options if the need should arise?
To ensure your industrial computers and tablets are capable of sustaining peak performance under the increasingly resource-hungry – or mobile – use, make sure the manufacturer offers ample flexibility for the initial customization and the subsequent upgrades.
At Cybernet, we believe each client is unique, and ensure our industrial computers address the highest bar of our clients’ expectations. Contact us today to get a quote for your customized build.