The industrial computer, industrial PC, panel PC or rugged PC are all names for computers designed to work in conditions not really suitable for sensitive electronics such as factories, warehouses and production plants. All industrial computer systems have to be tough to resist many of the hostile elements that persist in such environments.
Industrial PC’s has to operate in extreme conditions and has to be resilient to them all which could include:
Dust – will block filters and drives of a conventional computer, over-insulate which causes over-heating and even short circuit conventional equipment. In some areas dust can form potentially explosive clouds meaning any electrical device not only has to be protected from the dust but the dust has to be protected from any potential sparks from the device.
Water – used in many industrial processes, particularly in food production, where all equipment has to be able to cope with being washed down (often with a high pressure hose/jet wash).
Extreme temperatures – some industrial PCs have to operate in freezers or chillers where they are expected to function at minus 30 centigrade. Whilst some computers are tasked to operate near furnaces or other processes where temperatures can rise extremely high.
Heavy impacts/vibrations – industrial areas can be physically hazardous too with fork-lifts zipping about and heavy machinery moving around. Any computer operating in these needs to cope with heavy impacts or the vibrations caused by industrial processes.
Conventional computers are now frequently being used in industrial areas thanks mainly to the protection offered by industrial computer enclosures. These computer cabinets offer all the protection of an industrial PC, defending against dust, water, temperatures and heavy impacts etc but with the added flexibility of a standard Pc allowing the device to be upgraded/repaired at will.