We all know how important computers are. No office can be without one and even in industry it is rare for processes to still be manually controlled. Computers reduce waste, increase efficiency and boost productivity.
Industrial computers have been around as long as the office PC and are an essential tool in driving down costs. But in industrial areas there are challenges for computer manufacturers as they have to design and build industrial PC's to withstand dust, dirt, liquids and the occasional heavy impact that are commonplace elements in industrial environments.
However there are alternatives to using industrial computers. These are not only more cost effective but also offer far greater flexibility and less risk to your production processes.
Here are three reasons why you should not use an industrial computer.
1. Outdated technology.
To be rugged, industrial PCs are built solid state and often sealed to protect from the elements. This is fine except that the components inside need to be as uncomplicated as possible as any break can not be repaired on site. For this reason the operating system and many of the components are old and trusted technology – reliable but not state of the art, leaving your system out of date and possible inefficient.
A better solution is to buy a standard office PC to whatever specification you require. You can then place the PC, monitor, printer etc inside an industrial PC enclosure. These device will protect the enclosed PC from the elements while allowing any component to be changes within moments.
Industrial computers are highly expensive. That is not to say they are not worth the money as they are built by highly skilled manufacturers but to meet with the challenges of industrial environments they have to be built to very high standards which drives the price sky high.
A better alternative is to buy a standard, off-the-shelf PC and place it in side an industrial computer enclosure. The combined cost of the desktop computer and the enclosure will probably be less than the bespoke industrial computer but as the enclosure will last for decades when the PC fails, simply throw in another cheap desktop.
3. Risk of downtime.
Industrial computers are sealed and solid state, that is unlike standard PC's they can not be opened and have components repaired or replaced. When they go down a service engineer has to be called or even worse they have to be returned to the supplier. All this may take weeks and in the meantime you process the computer was controlling has to stop. Not so bad if it is not a critical system, but if it is, how much would that cost?
In industrial computer enclosure is far more flexible. If the enclosed PC fails (and lets face it no matter how well made or well looked after, all PC's will fail) simply take it out of the enclosure and repair / replace a component or simply stick another desktop PC back in. Even if you have no spares on site you can simply borrow an office PC, load up the software and get your production process back up and running in minutes rather than weeks.