Computers are an essential tool in manufacturing and production – they increase efficiency, reduce waste and increase production. They are now found in almost every industry from steel production to cake making.
Yet computers do not find many of these environments easy to work in. a good example is food production where computers not only have to operate in chilled environments but also have to withstand the liberal use of water.
Water is a legal requirement for many food production areas and any machine that has to operate in such areas needs to be able to be washed down and cleaned just like the rest of the equipment.
Computers, just like other electrical items, are vulnerable to water. Even light splashes on a normal desktop PC will be enough to occasionally short circuit the device. Yet in food production areas hoses are used to wipe down and wash everything.
To ensure they can use computers in these areas some food manufacturers opt to use specialist waterproof industrial computers. These machines are sealed to IP65 or IP 66 (A European Waterproof rating for enclosures) and can operate perfectly well in washdown environments.
They are however, not very flexible and their sealed design often means that any repairs, upgrades or replacement will require the skills of a service engineer. This may not matter if the computer is just printing labels or monitoring stock levels but if it is controlling production or a process then this means it must stop until the engineer arrives to repair or replace it.
Waterproof computers are also restrictive in their specifications and types of operating systems and software that they run. Many companies prefer a particular make or model of machine that they roll out to all areas of the business, some companies even use old office PC's for their shopfloor yet with industrial computers this is not possible.
A simple solution is to use a standard computer and enclose it in a waterproof computer enclosure. These enclosures create a protective environment for computers and prevent any ingress of water seeing into the device. They are often sealed to the same waterproof guidelines such as IP65 and are flexible to the point that any computer can be installed inside the enclosure within minutes by any computer administrator.