Computing In Industry

We can’t get away from them – computers are everywhere, from the washing machine to the car it seems everything is now run by a computer and with the exponential rate they are advancing there is probably more computing power in the average mobile phone than NASA used to put a man on the moon.And that has always been a problem for industry, as unlike other areas that computers have to function in, such as the home or office, computers in industry have to be manufactured to a robust standard and have to deal with all sorts of hostile environments from dust filled warehouses and baking hot furnaces to soaking wet production lines and deep freeze lockers.Most industry computers are specially made, designed specifically for whatever environment they are to be used in, whether by being intrinsically sealed for dusty or hazardous atmospheres or being air-conditioned or heated to control extreme temperatures.Whilst these industrial computers can function perfectly well they are highly expensive and replacing them can cost, not just in replacing the PC but also in downtime during the re-installation.And that is why industry has always struggled to keep up with the ever increasing advances in technology – in fact many industrial computers have been in use for a decade and contain very old operating systems and couldn’t cope with modern ones.Whilst this may make many industrial PCs quite stable, running ten-year-old technology does mean many manufacturing processes are not running as efficiently or using the latest software developments as they should be.Of course, the time eventually comes when a complete upgrade can no longer be put off and the industrial machines are ripped out and replaced costing a fortune in replacement units and production downtime.This has always been a catch-22 for industry, weighing up the cost of upgrading compared with the possible improvements to production an upgrade will bring but there is an alternative.For several years industrial computer enclosures have been designed and manufactured that can house a conventional PC yet still provide the robustness of that of a conventional industrial machine.These enclosures are made from all types of material including food-grade stainless steel and can be used in all hazardous and hostile environments from dust and explosive atmospheres to wet rooms, furnaces and freezers.As well as being far less expensive than buying a bespoke industrial computer these enclosures have allowed industry to use conventional low cost PCs in environments that they could normally not function in. Furthermore it is now possible to replace and upgrade machines in a matter of minutes whilst still using the same enclosure and reducing production downtime.