Demands are high for computing in industry. Industrial machines have to cope with many hostile elements whilst also providing reliable computing. Traditionally industrial computers have been specific, bespoke machines. These industrial computers tend to run old hardware and versions of software. Whilst this has the advantage of making the machines stable and reliable, the out-dated technology may mean the processes controlled by the machine are not done as efficiently.
These machines are also very expensive, not just to buy but also the maintenance. Industrial computers have to be maintained by service engineer, often forcing shutdown of production lines they also have to be replaced periodically as the hardware and software will eventually become obsolete. All computers eventually fail but an industrial computer enclosure means that over three generations of computers can use the same enclosure.
Industrial PC enclosures are a more efficient, affordable and reliable alternative to these expensive machines. The main benefits of an industrial computer enclosure are:
1. Withstand the same environments as an industrial computer, whether that is dust (including explosive atmospheres), dirt, grime, oil, grease and water (even completely doused). Enclosures are rated using European IP ratings that give a clear indication to the types of environments the enclosure can operate in, for example IP 65 totally protects dust whilst protecting against strong jets of water, (the first digit, 6, represents the dust protection the second digit, 5, the water) while IP 66 offers the same dust protection but the enclosure can be completely immersed in water.
2. Enclosures can also withstand the same shocks, vibrations and tampering as the enclosure can be built from robust materials and the enclosed PC can be fitted snugly and secured with shock absorbing bolts. Enclosures can also be securely locked and bolted to floors or walls to protect against theft.
3. For computing in extreme temperatures, computer enclosures can in fact work to a better standard than industrial machines as the extra cooling and heating units can be replaced if they are not working as efficiently as they should (a sealed industrial computer that is running too hot or cold would need to be replaced or returned for an upgrade).
4. Computer enclosures can enable a PC to run equally as reliable as an industrial computer as the desktop PC housed in the enclosure can be any conventional machine, from a trusted office workhorse to the latest all singing, all dancing off-the shelf PC.
5. A computer housed in an enclosure is also far cheaper than an industrial computer. Apart from the initial outlay for the expensive bespoke industrial computer, enclosures can out live an industrial machine by over a decade as an industrial computer will eventually have an internal failure (as all computers do) or become completely obsolete and will need replacing. However, an enclosure can be reused to house another machine and will in general house three generations of machines.
6. A computer enclosure can house monitors, printers, touch-screens and all manner of computing equipment (including the peripherals such as mouse and keyboard ) or they can be combined with water/dust proof sealed keyboards and mouse.
7. As an enclosure houses a conventional PC, any repairs or upgrades can be carried out in-house in minutes rather than have to wait for an engineer and have to shutdown the production.
8. Enclosures can be manufactured from a range of material including food grade stainless steel.
9. Enclosures can be lockable and secured to walls or floors to prevent theft or tampering.
10. Enclosures allow you to choose which software or hardware to run inside the enclosure rather than suffer out-dated technology.
With the demands of industrial computing so variable and extreme, industrial PC enclosures offer a flexibility that even conventional industrial computers fail to match whilst also offering the same protection and reliability for a fraction of the cost. PC enclosures are ideal for even the most hostile industrial environment and while specialist PCs will always be required for certain tasks the majority of uses for an industrial computer can be achieved using a conventional PC housed in an industrial PC enclosure.