Tag Archives: industrial tablets

HMI panel and industrial computer

3 Benefits of Using HMI Panels and Industrial Computers in Metal Shops

Metal shops are some of the most hazardous working environments—rotating heavy metal objects at high speeds (3000 RPMs!) can be dangerous if improperly handled, but using proper safety protocols has been a standard practice for metal shops for quite a long time. Still, there are ways to increase safety within a shop by evaluating the technology used. Plus, machine shops typically have requests from customers to produce metal parts with extremely high tolerances, sometimes parts that manual methods can’t accurately produce. More sophisticated metal shops use HMI panels to control machinery in order to shape the metal to specification. Here are three ways computers have improved metal shops and their machining methods.

Metal can be Cut via CNC

A manual lathe is a very common machine used to shape metal into a variety of forms; however, they’re known for being very dangerous if not used properly. A hydraulic clamp suspends a piece of aluminum, steel, or another metal, and starts spinning the metal at very high speeds. Then, a machinist controls an arm and slowly guides a diamond-tipped insert into the surface of the metal, chipping off slivers and shards. You may likely see the problems here already; the metal chipped off is typically very hot and gets flung around because manual lathes aren’t often housed inside protective barriers. A machinist has to guide the arm into the metal to properly shape it. It requires a lot of hand-eye coordination skill controlling the lathe to properly shape parts—or else a potential part is rendered to scrap.

Machinists can use an HMI panel to control a CNC machine in order to automatically shape a part. It requires less time and experience than manual machines and can produce parts with higher tolerances, more consistently, at a quicker pace. The part schematics can be entered into the resistive touch screen PC on the CNC and then the raw metal can be cut automatically without having to train employees how to properly control it. The part is made, time is saved, and safety is higher!

Bending Metals with Industrial Computers

Not all metal shops are focused on shaping parts! Some actually take damaged and bent parts in for repair. Propellers, for instance. Rather than haphazardly hammering a propeller back into shape—a practice that won’t yield successful results quickly—many metal shops use an industrial computer to scan the damaged propeller, compare it to an original model, and then control a hydraulic machine to bend the propeller back to its original state. A machinist can use an HMI panel to track and adjust the propeller so it’s reshaped for proper use. It’s a much more effective (and cheaper) method of restoring damaged propellers instead of machining an entirely new set of blades.

Temperature Changes Abound

The inside of a machine shop can have extreme fluctuations in temperature. The cutting process alone can produce incredible heat that could potentially damage electronic equipment like a computer. Beyond that, the temperature inside of a machine shop can be greatly influenced by the temperatures outside. Hot and humid conditions in the summer months can wreak havoc on internal components. In the same way, colder weather in the winter months can lead to hardware failure.

That’s why industrial computers are manufactured with high-quality military-grade components with very stringent tolerances and metals that resist warping. These kinds of metals are resilient to small and even large fluctuations in temperature changes. The benefit is that the computers last longer with better quality transistors and capacitors, and a higher Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF) rating of 50 thousand hours. Machine shops often run these computers at all times to maximize their production rate. These kind of builds are necessary for production sustainment. It’s best for businesses to invest in industrial computers since they fail less, expanding the time between each purchasing cycle, and thus saving money and time.

Industrial computers and HMI panels benefit machine shops in a myriad of ways; more accurate part machining when they’re coupled with CNC machines, higher safety standards, and saving the business time and money with higher quality materials that withstand temperature changes. If you’re serious about getting the best quality computers to run your metal shop, consider investing in an industrial computer today. Contact us for more information.

 

 

industrial tablets and medical tablets

Understanding Tablet Battery Life: Not All Solutions are Created Equally

Mobility in the workplace is crucial to boosting productivity. Ask any construction worker or physician using a tablet how their operations have improved and they’ll easily give a laundry list of benefits—time is money in the workplace, and saving one saves the other. However, changing to a mobile workstation can also present a new set of problems that can be pain points for professionals on the go. Battery life is probably one of the most common complaints with any mobile device, whether that be for personal or commercial use. But simply choosing a commercial grade tablet that boasts the longest battery life can end up causing a host of new problems that end up costing you more in the long run. A recent report by VDC Research shows that 18 percent of consumer-grade tablets fail every year when used in the workplace—that’s just one metric a business faces when insufficient tablets are used on the job. Here are a few more pain points to consider.

Understanding your Processing Needs

Scour the market to locate the best rugged tablet and you’ll find a vast majority use low-powered, compact processors. They’re great for running a quick app to check sports scores and what new 5-star restaurants are in the area, but those processors aren’t built for running sophisticated business software meant to track metrics, project progress, or other important business-related numbers. The wrong tablet in the hands of a professional can be frustrating—unresponsive applications, hefty load times, the works. We hate loading bars just as much as you do.

Address that problem early. Find a rugged tablet with an i5 or i7 processor. Your complex software will operate a lot faster than any tablet with the consumer-grade processor. While a more powerful processor can drain a battery faster, hot swap technology means you can just swap depleted batteries for charged ones without having to turn off the unit. Plus, any future upgrades to your software won’t mean you’ll need a new tablet upgrade for at least a few years.

Your Environment Impacts Readability

If you’ve held a mobile device recently (and you likely have), you probably recall squinting or moving to shadowy areas just to properly read what’s on the screen. We’re sure some professionals in the past have shielded the sun or find a darker area of their working environment—a heavy annoyance if you’re working on a construction site during mid-day or you manage a mobile medical unit trying to process patients. The reason for this is that a lot of commercial grade tablets choose to sacrifice screen resolution and brightness to preserve battery life.

The best rugged tablets have a high resolution of 1920 x 1200 and a “nits” emittance of 400 brightness—one of the highest brighest ratings for tablets available today. Brighter screens and higher resolutions are much easier on the eyes. You’ll likely experience fewer headaches and fewer frustrations.

Commercial Tablets Can Get Bulky, Quickly

If a physician is using a medical tablet, they’re a step ahead in maximum efficiency. Same can be said of a warehouse worker using an industrial tablet. However, their evolving task lists might require the use of different peripherals like barcode scanners, RFID readers, biometric security devices, and other equipment to do their job efficiently. External peripherals like an RFID scanner can increase the bulk of a medical tablet. Commercial grade tablets have limited ports, which in and of itself can make it difficult to connect peripherals like barcode and RFID scanners. And if you do manage to connect all of your devices, the tablet itself becomes bulky, and you know have two or three extra devices that you have to purchase and properly maintain.

Skip the tool belt approach by finding a tablet that has all the peripherals included in the design! All three components can be wrapped into the design for a rugged tablet so you don’t need to carry around devices to plug in or store away, risking time drain or possible peripheral loss. Not to mention that plugging in external devices to a tablet is going to contribute to battery drain anyway.

Solving the Battery Issue Without Sacrificing Functionality

After working ten hours with two hours to go on an exhausting shift, flashing battery lights and notifications that your tablet needs an immediate recharge are not welcome. Work has to be postponed to restore the tablet to a full charge. We’re sure there are cases where the internal battery for an industrial tablet malfunctions, the power shuts off, work is lost, and the battery is sealed inside, impossible to remove without voiding the warranty or cracking open components. If the tablet is out of warranty (or voided), it’s usually a costly repair. Once more, time and money are lost and your business suffers.

Resolve that potential roadblock by using a tablet with swappable batteries. There’s virtually no downtime when there’s an extra set of charging batteries that can replace one at the first sign of battery drain. Extra batteries can be charged at a central location and be quickly swapped out for a drained battery in seconds without having to power off the unit. This eliminates both downtime and the need to worry about battery life completely. In theory, a tablet with hot swap batteries can run 24/7 so long as you keep the extra batteries charged and ready.

The bottom line is time and money are at risk if you only consider one thing when purchasing a tablet for your business. Think about what the needs of your business are and what the potential pitfalls might be if you settle on a budget tablet. Cybernet features both a medical grade and an industrial grade tablet that are ruggedized and have a robust component integration, powerful internal processors that beat out consumer choices, swappable batteries to increase uptime, and high-resolution screens with above average brightness. Contact us to learn how we can customize our solutions to meet your unique needs.

 

 

military grade computers in automotive industry

Military Grade Computers and Their Role in the Automotive Industry

The automotive industry constantly adapts with new methods of manufacturing as technology improves. Using this new technology requires the use of hazardous equipment, such as furnaces and welding robots, in order to successfully manufacture an automotive body frame. The intent is to drive cost down and automate all processes possible, but that isn’t always the easiest task. It requires the right kind of computer—an industrial computer—to automate a process while remaining sturdy enough to last a long time. Here are a few ways the industrial computer plays a role in how automotive factories have altered methods of construction for the better.

Heating Processes and their Affect on Military Grade Computers

One of the more common practices in automotive build is a process called “hot stamping.” It’s a technology developed in the 1970s requiring a shaft of steel to be heated at its austenitization (hardening) point. That temperature is generally around 900 degrees Celsius. No doubt the furnace that generates this heat is somehow insulated, but a temperature like that will undoubtedly affect all metals and tolerances in an automotive factory—including metals inside of a computer. The continual heating/cooling process over time can easily take a toll on any device (especially when it relates to an automotive setting), and so naturally you’ll want something resilient against temperature changes.

The best way to avoid this constant temperature warping is to trust in a military grade computer able to withstand temperature changes. Controlled furnaces are just one device able to affect the heat dispersion in an automotive warehouse, so a computer that can function around welding, heating metals, and extremely hot temperatures is ideal.

Automotive Industry Painting Procedures

Military grade computers aren’t just built to withstand high temperatures. Typical factories have time-intensive painting processes for an entire auto body that can easily take 14 hours to complete for a single body. The painting process runs through several sub-processes that wash, bake, sand, treat, clean, coat, dry, and wax the auto body. A computer with open air vents nearby wouldn’t last a week in any of those environments!

That’s why military grade computers are sealed and fanless. Ingress of any kind—whether dust, paint, soot, tiny metal shards, whatever the foreign item—can sentence the shelf-life of a computer to much shorter than it’s typical life expectancy. It’s important to get the proper computer with the proper enclosure to work around these environments, or else the automated assembly line won’t be automated until a new computer is in place.

Military Grade Computers and the Terminal Block Feature

Seeing how a car is made is the best way to learn how a car operates. Fortunately for us, a lot of dangerous processes and heat-intensive mechanics are behind glass walls where automated assembly is completed by robots. However, in order to control these metal behemoths a computer must be in close proximity—away from the people operating them. That’s why some of the industrial computer models feature terminal blocks for remote power and access. Standing behind a protective barrier, a factory worker could flip a switch and start up a military grade computer with the terminal block feature, engaging the automated assembly line without needing to risk life or limb around several robots.

DIN Mountable Computers

With the presence of potentially hundreds of electrical devices manipulating car parts, welding, spraying, cutting, heating metal, and maneuvering independently, electrical configuration must be incredibly complex. One loose ground can spell a power disaster, so it’s important all components—including the industrial computer—are grounded properly in addition to all electronic components running the factory. Installing an industrial computer on a DIN rail is a proper method to ensure the computer is grounded properly. It saves space too. A military grade computer isn’t designed to just sit on a shelf—ensure that it’s in the right place for safety and longevity.

 

Extreme heat resilience, enclosed environments, operation close to manufacturing, and proper electrical handling are important requirements for a military grade computer.  Choosing less expensive computers that can’t stand up to harsh environments like what you’d find in an automotive factory bring on hidden costs like repairs and replacement computers. Make sure your automated processes stay automated by selecting a military grade computer able to operate an automotive factory. Contact us for more information.

 

Farm to Table: How Industrial Computers are Improving our Food Supply Chain

Two of the largest problems in the food manufacturing industry are traceability and safety. The ability to track food from farm to table is vital in order to ensure food safety and to avert financial disaster in the event of a recall. It’s a question of the supply chain process and how well those processes can be automated. The government estimates there’s around 48 million cases of foodborne illnesses annually, with about 128 thousand of those cases turning into hospitalizations, and 3 thousand of those being deaths. There’s a vast range of food-related bacteria that can cause many diseases, and the unfortunate part is we can’t eradicate all of the illnesses, but what we can do is take proper precaution against them so that we see a reduction in cases. Food manufacturers are turning to industrial computers and rugged tablets both in the field and in the processing plant to help automate the supply chain and provide full transparency into how the food you put on your table got there. The challenges in accomplishing this are process automation, reduction in infectious diseases from food handling, and keeping food manufacturing computers functional at all times. How do we combat these problems?

Maximizing Yield with Industrial PCs

Contrary to popular belief, farmers are quick to embrace technological advances. The need to increase yield while maintaining the same footprint is essential not just to stay afloat financially, but to feed a population that is growing by the year. Automated farming sounds like something from a sci-fi novel, but it is already here. Farmers are using industrial computers to run a number of automated processes. Things like irrigation systems, drone monitoring of fields, alarms and sensors that track livestock can all be controlled by industrial computers. These computers need to be able to run 24/7, process large amounts of data, have the connectivity to work in more remote locals and still withstand environmental challenges. To put it bluntly, you can’t walk into your local electronics store and walk out with a computer capable of this job. Industrial computers are engineered with military grade components designed for 24/7 operability and have rugged casings to protect against harsh weather.

Achieving Lot Traceability in the Field

In the event of a food recall, lot, bin and serial traceability is crucial. Being able to identify which batches are contaminated and which are safe can be the difference between tens of thousands of dollars in losses compared to millions. The further back in the supply chain you are able to trace the source of a contamination, the better. A rugged tablet with an integrated barcode scanner can help provide insight right from the fields. These tablets are designed to withstand dust and dirt. They can hold up against drops and shock damage. They are even waterproof. Using one of these tablets in the field, you can scan an invoice as produce is put on a truck. Now that produce is timestamped as having been picked from a specific field on a specific day at a specific time. When that produce arrives at the manufacturing plant it is scanned again upon receipt and traceability from the first leg of the supply chain is complete.

Process Automation with a Touch Screen PC

There are a number of regulations that food manufacturers need to follow in order to stay compliant with the FDA. Some products might need to be steamed. Other might need to be kept in freezing or near freezing temperatures. Bio-waste needs to be properly disposed of, and the plant itself needs to be regularly disinfected to prevent the spread of dangerous bacteria. All of these are conditions that would wreak havoc on a commercial grade PC. Human Machine Interface or HMI computers are engineered with industrial grade components to withstand these conditions. They are designed with touch screen interfaces to easily start and stop processes and keep plant operations automated and running smoothly. As central points of control, these HMI computers need to be cleaned and disinfected regularly. That’s where IP65 certification comes into play. IP65 is a designation that means a computer is water resistant, and can withstand regularly cleanings. This is extremely important in a food manufacturing environment to prevent the spread of disease and keep vital hardware up and running at all times.

Once food is processed and packaged it can be traced all the way back to the field in which it was grown. Industrial computers are helping food manufacturers increase yield, track supply and process food safer. All of which results in higher quality food finding its way to your kitchen. Cybernet manufactures a complete line of industrial computers meant to meet these challenges. For more information you can visit our website or contact us here.

ERP Software with business tablet PC and mini computers

How ERP Software is Changing Industrial PC Demands

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software is a product that operates on several different business operational levels to streamline and unify processes such as project management, accounting, manufacturing, customer resource management, and others. As technology and software development grows, ERP software complexifies and requires stronger computer hardware in order to operate without hitches. It’s necessary to have sufficient hardware—running an office without powerful computers can quickly flip an office into turmoil (pretend your own office has broken accounting computers and you’ll get the idea). The software is so highly complex that it takes implementation teams to install the software and ensure all managed processes are functioning properly, and implementing software on underpowered, old computers doesn’t bode well for business. Granted ERP software has turned more user-friendly than in the past, but that still dictates what’s necessary for computers today. Here are some ways that ERP software has changed for the better and what’s necessary for a business to stay on top of the growing software model that ERP uses.

Advances in ERP Software Require a Touch Screen PC

Even with decades of development efforts, ERP is still incredibly complex software requiring implementation teams for different-sized projects. However, there’s been a higher demand for more user-friendly support.  ERP software has trended towards a more visual look instead of a text-based appearance, increasing the demand for larger screens with touch screen capability. Some ERP software has developed a model that’s touch-screen friendly, and naturally those software product models need an industrial touch screen pc. For instance, a company called Software 21 has upgraded their ERP product, Flexgen 4, to integrate touch screen controls so that their data collection operations are more efficient. Another company called Forge Technology Partners recently developed a touch screen application that manages timesheets, tracks job performance, and keeps employee information updated. Combining this technology with an industrial pc is vital. You need a computer capable of surviving the harsh environment of a shop floor and manufacturing plant. But it also needs to have the advanced functionality of commercial grade PCs. Resistive touch screens might be an older technology, but with the safety requirements in most industrial setting, a touch screen that works with a gloved hand is likely required. Industrial PCs are designed to marry functionality with rugged components, something you simply don’t get with a Tier 1 computer manufacturer.

ERP Software Needs Mobility

Technology has shrunk to a point where a large population of individuals carry around fully-functional computers in their pockets. Naturally, the ERP market changed with the advent of smartphones and tablets and their integration into business enterprises. In order to stay relevant ERP developers aren’t just limiting themselves to strict desktop software. The development of mobile apps and the adoption of those apps among end-users has become common place. The ability to access ERP software in the field while on an industrial tablet can be invaluable. Imagine a salesperson being able to remotely access inventory data or project accurate lead times in order to close more sales. Or a foreman on a job site being able to order materials and access project workflows from their mobile device. All of this is possible with mobile applications provided you have the hardware necessary to run them.

ERP on a Business Tablet PC for Warehouse Operations

A common use of ERP is inventory tracking. That’s not always an easy task, especially if the mobile tablet you’re running the ERP software on doesn’t feature a barcode scanner. Tablet PCs without barcode scanners suffer problems of higher inventory costs, possible human error problems, lower tracking rates for documents and products, and decisions from management with incomplete data samples.  When tablets include barcode scanners,  employees can scan barcodes to track a wealth of information. Plus, the good news is this technology has spread into all sizes of enterprises as tech has evolved into smaller, cheaper solutions. Management can keep tabs on low inventory, count discrepancies, reduce shipping problems, manage materials inventory, track labor hours and rates, and other important business metrics. A business tablet PC with an integrated barcode takes ERP systems to higher functionality.

However your ERP has evolved, it’s clear that ERP drives what’s necessary for hardware. With visual enhancements, ERP requires a more touch-screen oriented design. Mobile and cloud-based ERP systems are becoming the standard for use on business tablet PCs and similar devices. Stay ahead of the curve with business and see what options you have when upgrading to a robust system of computers to support your ERP system. For more information you can visit the Cybernet website or contact us here.

HMI computers industrial panel PC

The Human Machine Interface and the Role Industrial Computers Face

Human Machine Interface (HMI) is an important concept to be aware of in today’s industrial automation IT world. Technological innovations and advances have pushed automation’s boundaries close to near-perfect operation within industrial warehouses and manufacturing plants. We’re seeing these pushes both on a software and hardware level. Developments in artificial intelligence software are getting more sophisticated, so naturally the hardware must scale with the demands of software. However, there still must be a “starting point” in the pathway from device controller to automation result, and that’s where HMI plays a part. It’s a concept that has evolved over time as an overarching idea that incorporates all functionality of a given production system into a single user interface that can be controlled by simply touching an industrial touch panel PC. It’s the combination of a graphical user interface, an automated production system, and its supporting software that must operate in synergy to be fully productive. These HMIs are becoming more important with the onset of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the desire to fully automate processes. However, not just any device will operate in the manner an HMI needs.

HMI Computers Must Be Compact

Warehouses come in all shapes and sizes, but regardless of the configuration of a warehouse it’s important to find an industrial touch panel PC capable of being installed in an area that’s non-obtrusive to traffic. A retail computer purchased off the shelf and then stored on a warehouse floor will undoubtedly get kicks and light shock damage. Populate an entire warehouse with computer towers, and you’re bound to see a hardware failure within the first three months. Small form factor design with a flexible open frame, wireless technology, and a fully integrated resistive touch screen are necessary components for a proper HMI computer. Why a resistive touch screen if it’s older technology? Capacitive touch screens won’t function with gloves. If you’re in an industrial warehouse, we’d recommend using gloves. We’d also recommend a resistive screen so you won’t need to remove them.

An Industrial Touch Panel PC Must Be Resilient

Temperature changes, sparks, disruptive noises, dirt, soot, chemicals, flying objects, shock damage, and other hazards are a concern for computers in warehouses. Workers can’t operate computers if they’re too close to an entity producing extremely hot or cold temperatures, so HMI computers must be resilient to extreme temperature changes. Thankfully, industrial computers are. Several industrial computer builds are encased in aluminum housings and constructed with military-grade components that have a Mean Time Between Failure of 50 thousand hours, much more than a consumer-grade computer. You’ll need an HMI computer resistant to all hazards to keep longevity. Combining metal enclosures, military-grade components, and resilience in extreme temperatures creates the perfect trifecta for longevity when it comes to HMI computers.

Industrial Computers Need Wireless Tech

A common problem with consumer-grade wireless devices is shoddy WiFi. Home routers drop wireless signals because of attenuation; wireless tech in HMI computers may do the same if the wireless range is too weak over the wireless “path,” or it’s blocked by warehouse walls—a concept known as a Faraday cage. Ensuring your next industrial touch panel PC is equipped with some of the strongest wireless capabilities—an Intel Dual Band Wireless-N 7260 Plus Bluetooth card—will reduce if not remove spotty wireless connections. Plus, if a keyboard and mouse are needed they can connect seamlessly with the HMI computer via Bluetooth. 

Industrial Panel PCs Need Mountability Options

For your next industrial computer deployment, it’s a strong idea to ensure all of the above are addressed, but that doesn’t address where your panel PCs might reside. What’s the solution there? An IT professional can’t leave them dangling from power cables or thrown about a warehouse floor, so a VESA mount is necessary to keep them clutter free. Using a standard 75/100m VESA mounting holes, staff can keep panel PCs out of the way by mounting them to the wall.

Adhering to specific hardware design and a set of features that expand productivity are what businesses should look for when it comes to HMI computers. At Cybernet, we’ve engineered a full line of industrial PCs that meet these standards and excels in the warehouse. Contact us today to find out more details.

tough tablets

Industrial Tablets vs Off-the-Shelf in the Field

Since 2010, Apple has seen tremendous success after the corporation released it’s first iPad tablet, launching a new market and being the trendsetter in a new line of mobile technology products. As recent as 2016, Apple’s global market share has reached 25 percent for tablets, leading Samsung by approximately 10 percent. It’s clear that this market has seen tremendous growth and application in the past 7 years—Apple sold more than 40 million iPads alone in 2016. However, what we’re looking at is largely representative of the consumer market for tablets and not the industrial market. It’s likely the case that an industrial company settled on Apple products for mobile productivity in the past, but there’s an important financial factor that’s hard to see on a day-to-day basis; the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is an estimation of expenses related with buying, deploying, using, and then retiring of a piece of equipment or product. Industrial companies focus a lot on TCO, but consumer grade tablets aren’t best in the long run for industrial companies. Generally the TCO for a tough tablet is lower (better) since they last longer. Here’s an in-depth look at why.

Tough Industrial Tablets Utilize a Hot Swappable Battery

If you’ve ever tried to remove the internal battery for a tablet, it was probably a frustrating and educational experience. Most tablets are sealed, so battery removable and replacement either requires someone who has experience getting into the innards of a tablet, a trustworthy individual with a steady set of hands who can learn quickly, or device shipment to the manufacturer who can replace the battery if the tablet is within warranty. If it’s not within warranty, expect to pay around 100 USD for a battery replacement and a turnaround time of 3-5 days with no promise of restoring all the previous data. If you’d prefer to remove and replace the battery yourself, kits often cost around as much as a manufacturer’s price for a battery replacement anyhow. That’s not a strong outlook for a business, especially if the tablets have no backstock, leaving at least one employee with no way to be productive. Or, you could just swap out the removable battery on the tough tablet instead and resume productivity. Not only does this removable battery functionality affect TCO greatly, it prevents production downtime. Plus, if a battery doesn’t hold a charge, others are available to purchase. The hot swappable battery function justifies the cost alone. It can take productivity from a few hours to a full work shift—or more, depending on how many people on different shifts use one tablet. One tough tablet with three batteries can be used continuously over the course of an entire day instead of three separate tablets in use, each potentially lasting the time span of a shift and then stored away to charge. Again, industrial tablets have a lower TCO.

Tough Tablets Need Tough Glass, and More

Some tablets use Corning’s Gorilla Glass, an alkali-aluminosilicate sheet of glass that is highly resistant to scratches, direct damage, and drops. Gorilla Glass has become a staple in tough tablet and smartphone manufacturing, but it’s not indestructible and a lot of videos have surfaced online demonstrating it can shatter if a tablet is dropped in sensitive areas—usually a corner. Industrial tablets are known to use Gorilla Glass and often have housings to protect the corners, which iPads and other consumer-grade tablets lack. Sure, a CFO can get protective cases for tablets too, but a rugged case can hit the wallet at about 80 USD—another cost consideration when going with consumer tablets. Why buy more when an industrial tablet comes with the protection? The last accidental drop a warehouse needs is one that shatters the glass on a tablet, potentially rendering the device useless. Tough tablets are built to withstand shocks and vibrations.

Tablets Tend to Bend

A quick search online reveals that consumer tablets aren’t the most resilient to warping. Some have actually shipped bent in the past, and others warp so much the glass actually shatters. Couple that in an industrial warehouse with temperature changes—not a favorable result. Even aluminum and stainless steel are known to warp a few microns because of temperature changes in machine shops, so we’ve come to expect sheets of silicon, aluminum, and glass to do the same. Industrial tablets are built to withstand temperature changes, vibrations, shocks, and accidental damage, extending their life beyond what a consumer would expect. Built with industrial-grade components, these tough tablets have a Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF) timespan of six years. Consider that the original iPad released in 2010—several models of the iPad have been released between then and 2017, suggesting that one industrial tablet will last longer than several iPad generations. Again, lower TCO for the industrial tablet.

Capacitive is Great Technology—but Not For Industrial Tablets

Working in a warehouse often requires gloves—regular gloves, unless you buy capacitive-knit gloves (which are expensive and don’t provide much protection), don’t work on capacitive screens. Capacitive technology uses the electrical charge from our hands to actually register a change in voltage, thus changing the elements on screen. With a gloved hand, the electrical charge doesn’t register. Consumer grade tablets usually use capacitive screens, so a gloved hand won’t work. Industrial tablets use resistive screens so a gloved input can actually register. Sure, employees can take off their gloves and work with a tablet screen, but that’s quite a tedious annoyance.

These reasons clearly outline why tough tablets are the best choice for an industrial setting. Consumer grade tablets warp easier, batteries aren’t easily replaceable, gloved hands can’t interact with their screens, operational life is shorter, and there’s a higher TCO. Consider that the MTBF for an industrial tablet is longer than the lifespan for several generations of iPads and other tablets! You don’t want your employees to suffer productivity downtime over charging batteries or sending a broken tablet off to a manufacturer over one drop—unless you prefer spending more money over time.

 

 

5 Key Aspects of Running An Effective Mobile Inventory Solution in Retail

Supply chain companies now face more challenges in tracking and expediting their inventory than ever, as the multichannel retail landscape shifts from “I-want-it-now” to “I-need-this-yesterday.” In order to stay competitive, retailers need to have an up-to-date knowledge of where things are, in what quantities, at all times. They need to be able to rebalance inventories, redirect shipments, and respond to whatever new demand arises immediately.

Among the most important trends for retail industry this year forecast by Vend, one of the industry experts, are three particularly important points:

  • Merging online and offline data collection and analysis. As consumers go through different paths to a purchase, retailers need to start analyzing online and offline data combined.
  • Single-view, cloud-based solutions. The modern retail strategy requires a unified view of the multiple channels of sales, inventory, and customer visibility. Cloud-based solutions enable retailers to scale quickly, work from anywhere and execute their multichannel initiatives with more efficiency as they get a timely insight into key aspects of their business. It is important to maintain an up-to-date item file, accurate inventory levels and pricing system across multiple channels. Several years ago, when many retailers went online, they maintained separate systems for online and offline sales, which became an important technical roadblock companies are now overcoming through the adoption of cloud-based IT solutions powered by rugged industrial tablets.
  • Adoption of Internet of Things throughout the supply chain. From barcodes to RFID beacons, retailers are leveraging the IoT in their warehouses and stores. IoT in retail is estimated to have an economic impact from $410 billion to $1.2 trillion per year by 2025. Forward-thinking retailers pioneer the adoption of the smart devices to streamline various business processes from inventory management to in-store shopping.

5 Key Aspects of Running An Effective Mobile Inventory Solution

  1. Desktop-to-Mobile Compatibility

    Inventory management software increases warehouse and shop staff efficiency when checking inventory, stocking shelves, transferring goods from the central warehouse & vendors. Most retailers have by now adopted an inventory management solution in their networks, and the primary software solution is deployed on Windows-powered desktop PCs. How do you scale that powerhouse of an application to mobile?Many software providers port their desktop programs to mobile operating systems, but that transition often comes at a cost of reduced functionality and crippled usability. So, why change operating systems?Windows-based industrial tablets are compatible with most desktop programs retailers run on their desktop systems, so users won’t run into any learning curves when switching to the mobile version. The functionality and usability are preserved while retailers run the full version of their preferred software on a mobile device.A fully-fledged mobile solution that is completely compatible with your enterprise resource planning system (ERP) cuts down the costs of deploying a third-party mobile inventory solution and integrating it with the ERP, an expensive and challenging process. It’s much easier to deploy solutions that are compatible with your existing ecosystem from day one rather than trying to bridge fundamentally different systems together.

  2. Barcodes and RFID

    Handheld barcode scanners and RFID devices are things of the past now that industrial tablets come integrated with these previously external peripherals. Standalone scanners and readers only capture some type of inventory data. It then needs to be synced with the main retail management program. Such devices tend to be expensive to program, integrate and maintain, and difficult to use.With the barcode reader and RFID scanner integrated into your rugged tablet, your employees collect, sync and create actionable reports on the go. This immediate data availability boosts the accuracy of inventory management.Through the use of RFID technology, your employee’s industrial tablet can be used to recognize where the employee is in the warehouse or in the store, and present the employee with the relevant options and information for the given location.RFID is also used in inventory management solutions to track inventory availability and alert the employees when a product is soon to be out of stock.

  3. BYOD vs Industrial Tablets

    Retailers widely adopt Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) strategy, assuming it’s cheaper and easier to deploy than providing corporate devices to the employees. However, BYOD & poor cybersecurity awareness of users is a part of the reason why the retail industry is plagued by cyber threats. The criminals are after financial data they can monetize, and retail is the industry to hit, with the large databases of vendors, consumers and employee banking data, Social Security numbers and other personally identifiable information.BYOD devices add more work to your IT staff when scaling the system for a fleet of different devices running different OS’s, and having to look for a mobile solution that would be compatible with the variety of BYOD assets.Industrial tablets provide robust cybersecurity functionality complete with easy-to-use two-factor authentication with a biometric reader, CAC or smart card reader, full disk encryption, capability to encrypt data on external hard drives, capability to set up a tablet for multiple users with access controls, remote wiping and remote access for the ITs to update software of introduce timely changes.

  4. Ruggedness

    Inventory management requires your workers to be mobile and flexible. Hence, the mobile device has to be easy-to-operate and reliable. Rugged technology comes with a slew of advantages:

    • A carrying handle, strips and light weight simplify tablet handling.
    • Hot-swap batteries, a charging station for 24/7 uptime.
    • Military-grade components with the fail rate of less than 2% under constant use.
    • MIL-STD and IP65 drop protection, shock, vibration, temperature fluctuation and water protection for reliability in any out-of-the-office environment.
    • Integrated barcode, RFID, CAC or smart card reader paired with biometric reader increase the functionality of a single device.
    • Can be mounted on a wall, inside a vehicle, on a desktop.
    • Full disk encryption, capability to encrypt data on external drives.
    • Highly customizable OS, software and legacy ports.
    • Advanced wireless connectivity and support of the carrier of your choice.
    • Easy to deploy, cheap to maintain, low TCO if compared to that of consumer-grade mobile devices.
  5. Cost of Hardware

    Windows-powered industrial tablets do not require any intervention by your programmers, so the deployment cost is the cost of the hardware. When calculating the total cost of ownership of your industrial tablet, take into account:

    • integrated scanners and readers, which eliminate the need for bulky and expensive peripherals necessary to make IoT work;
    • it is rugged and durable, with 5+ years of continuous uptime;
    • hot-swap batteries, charging station for 24/7 uptime;
    • it is compatible with the inventory management software you run on your desktops;
    • failure rates of industrial tablets are normally 4% (it’s 2% with Cybernet’s devices) while the failure rates of consumer devices skyrocket 15%-30% when they are used intensively in working environments where they can fall, be exposed to humidity or fluctuating temperatures;
    • industrial tablets offer better security to maintain your corporate data protected from breaches whereas BYOD devices are looming with malware, spyware and ransomware stemming from poor user cybersecurity awareness and the lack of hardware-level in-built security functions.

Agility and performance in retail inventory management can be leveraged to their full extent when the dedicated software runs on a powerful, secure and reliable hardware such as rugged industrial tablets.

Smart Factories and Their Use of Industrial Computers

Smart factories are rapidly replacing their traditional counterparts. By cutting costs, reducing labor requirements, and shrinking the space needed for operation, smart factories are able to increase production, raise profits, and improve customer satisfaction.

What Is a “Smart” Factory?

Smart factories are operated from an industrial computer, which controls the smart camera that allows the system to operate. Smart factories differ from traditional systems in a variety of ways. The predominant difference is the elimination of the errors that can result from human manual operations. Automatic inspection by machines means consistent output along every step of the factory process, providing consistent quality.

But smart factories have other benefits as well. They can help to lower production costs, as they eliminate much of the human labor that must be paid in a traditional factory. They also have increased productivity, because the entire system is automated and runs smoothly, with less risk of error. The consistency of production also means better customer satisfaction with the finished product.

Why Are Industrial Computers Essential for Smart Factories?

An industrial computer must be used because the system has to be rugged. Factories produce a variety of products, many of which can cause wet or humid conditions, spread dust, or produce a lot of vibrations. Industrial computers can hold up to whatever rugged elements a factory throws their way, while also providing the processing power needed to run the smart system. The computer also must be small, as smart factories being created in traditional factories often lack the space necessary for large, bulky technologies.

When it comes to operating smart factories, the vision system dictates the work that can be done, the quality of the work, and more. Smart cameras utilize multiple different technologies, including image sensors, storage space, and processing capabilities. While a more powerful smart camera may be able to execute more complicated tasks at a faster speed, they also take up more space and require more power for operation.

A larger camera may also require a fan if there isn’t space to regulate heat, but in a factory space, moving parts like a fan represent the threat of failure, which can shut down the entire system. Rugged industrial computer systems, such as Cybernet’s Fanless Rugged Mini PCs, help to eliminate the need for a cooling system, as they are better able to withstand temperature changes than lighter systems.

What Add-Ons Are Available for Industrial Computers that Are Specific to Smart Factories?

Smart factories utilize other technologies alongside their industrial computers as well. Many smart cameras can now be connected with HMI or a screen at the production line, rather than communicating only with a control room. The ability to have a screen on the production line means that problems can be caught far earlier in the production process. This presents the need for an industrial panel PC, such as Cybernet’s iOne N19, which can allow an operator to monitor and control any step of the process with ease. If an error occurs, production can be stopped or adjusted almost instantly. The industrial panel PC, like the computer itself, is rugged, and can withstand the elements within any factory space.

Another option available alongside industrial computers are industrial tablets. These make working on the factory floor or quickly and easily shifting operations a breeze. Cybernet’s Rugged X10 10.1” Industrial Tablet, with its waterproof and shockproof build, weighs just 2.2 pounds, but is powered by Intel i5/i7 CPU with vPro. Their rugged build makes them perfect for use anywhere and in any factory, while their processing power make them great for working on the go when a traditional computer is not available. Many industrial tablets, including the Rugged X10, also have cellular capabilities, which can allow operators to work from anywhere, which can help to speed up production and increase profits.

The iPad Versus the Industrial and Manufacturing Industry

There is no doubt that the iPad has its place in the world of consumer electronics.  Apple and mass media marketing have done wonders to ensure you believe the best tablet out there is the iPad.  This is partly due to the genius of Apple itself.  Marketing is large part of the iPad’s overwhelming popularity, but there’s also functionality to consider.  It is hard to believe Apple when they make claims that the iPad is “ahead of the game” in the realm of portable and tablet technology.  When compared with industrial tablets or rugged PCs, the iPad quickly falls short.  If you work in an industrial sector, try to imagine bringing your iPad into the volatile world of manufacturing and industrial work.

If you work in an industrial setting on a daily basis, it is easy to see how things can go south quickly, especially with a consumer-grade electronic.  This is a demanding environment and it isn’t one that is easily navigated by the iPad.  In the world of commercial and industrial enterprise, rugged tablets are the logical choice.  A rugged tablet gives you durability, power and reliability – everything you’ve come to expect in the digital age.  A rugged tablet is specifically designed for this type of environment, and it is not only functional, it’s also the most capable option.

Durability

There are a lot of options for durable cases with iPads, but when push comes to shove, they could never withstand the daily abuse of a rugged work environment.  When you’re working in a challenging environment, you want a tablet that will hold up to the abuse you’ll be putting it through on a regular basis.

IPads are not equipped for manufacturing and industrial work activities, plain and simple.  As a consumer grade electronic, the harsh nature of the commercial work environment would put an iPad through the wringer.

It’s glaringly obvious that the iPad isn’t rugged or tough.  It may be slightly durable, but that doesn’t mean it can handle the industrial applications that require a true rugged tablet.

Functionality is also compromised, as well. In warehouses and other industrial workplaces, it is sometimes necessary to wear work gloves while on the job. You cannot use an iPad with a glove on your hand, but many rugged tablets are designed to be used with gloved fingers.

In these particularly rugged work environments, contact with moisture and fluid is always a possibility. An iPad is not waterproof, while many rugged tablets are. They are specially made to protect your software and applications against the elements of the humid, gritty work atmosphere you encounter on a daily basis.

Applications & Software

 We all know that the iPad can be great for playing games or other entertainment apps. Even basic office applications can be utilized on an iPad device. However, in the commercial work environment, rugged tablets accomplish the workload by utilizing applications made to keep your business running smoothly.

You can find applications that help with productivity, inventory, time sheets, accounts and more.  Some of these applications even include warehouse or scanning software, or other ways to manage your work orders.  They provide true streamlined workflow from the main warehouse floor to the backroom industrial office.

There is no doubt that there is a place for iPads, but it is obvious that the industrial world is not it.