Industrial Computer Enclosures – Frequently Asked Questions Answered

1. Industrial Computer Enclosures and Industrial PCs, What’s the Difference?

In theory, nothing. They’re both designed to protect your equipment in hostile environments and they conform to the IP (ingress protection) rating system, as defined by the European Committee for Electro Technical Standardisation (CENELEC).

In practice, it’s the way that they protect that’s different. Industrial PCs are ‘all-in-one’ systems, everything is built into one unit, whereas industrial computer enclosures are separate to your equipment. They offer greater flexibility and save you time and money.

2. Why Bother Protecting my Factory’s PCs? I can just Replace them if they get Damaged

It’s true, you can. However, let’s look at how this could affect your company, hypothetically speaking. Let’s say you have 10 PCs in use on the factory floor and within 12 months five of them become damaged beyond repair due to exposure to dust, dirt, temperature fluctuations and liquids.

Assuming that the cost to replace each PC is £300, your bottom line takes a hit of £1500. That’s bad enough, right? However, there’s a more fundamental problem, which is often an oversight for many businesses.

Yes, a PC can be replaced, but what can’t be undone is production downtime. If you’re using PCs on the factory floor it’s obviously vital to your business operations.

What we’re stressing here is that it stops becoming about the cost to replace PCs, but becomes about the cost of PC downtime. Ultimately, the time it takes to repair a broken-down industrial PC is the opportunity cost of lost production and a lower manufacturing output.

How would your facility cope with 24 hours out of action? In reality, that’s how long it could take to get a PC repaired or replaced.

Then there’s data loss. The PC that has just failed holds information valuable to business, if it’s not backed up, it’s lost and irreplaceable.

Ultimately, industrial computer enclosures prolong the usable life of your equipment, reducing breakdowns, preventing downtime and giving you a lower total cost of ownership.

‘In gruelling environments a computer enclosure is the first and last line of defence for your equipment.’

3. Why can’t I just Build my Own Industrial Computer Enclosures?

You can, but it will cost you more. Once you’ve paid for the specialist materials and tools needed, factored in the labour costs and the time it takes to design and develop a unit to your satisfaction, plus the IP certification costs, producing your own doesn’t make commercial sense.

Assigning your time, and the time of your staff, to building an enclosure is time that is lost on your business. You wouldn’t spend time building the other heavy duty equipment you use, would you?

4. Will the Warranty of my Equipment be Affected by Using Industrial Computer Enclosures?

No. However, using a commercial grade PC in an environment where it’s deemed unfit for purpose, might not be covered by your warranty.

5. Are Industrial Computer Enclosures Or Industrial PCs More Secure?

With industrial PCs, they’re built to withstand manufacturing environments, with no need for a protective enclosure, which does leave it exposed to potential tampering or theft.

An industrial computer enclosure is separate to your equipment and are lockable, restricting access to authorised personnel only, reducing the possibility of theft or tampering.

6. Which is Easier to Maintain, Equipment in an Enclosure or an Industrial PC?

Without doubt, equipment in an enclosure. If something goes wrong with any of the systems encased in an enclosure, you can deal with any malfunctions on the spot. In contrast, industrial PCs are specialist pieces of kit and in most cases often require repair by the manufacturer.

This means you could face a significant period of downtime waiting for an engineer to come out and rectify a problem.

Additionally, because they’re sealed units, industrial PCs are often proprietary and difficult to upgrade.

7. What’s Easier to Install, an Enclosure or an Industrial PC?

Enclosures! In most cases they come fully assembled. Simply position as required, put your equipment in, power up and you’re all set. There’s no need to replace any of your hardware and downtime is minimal.

Installing industrial PCs means a complete overhaul of your system. Your current equipment, presuming you’re using commercial grade equipment, is rendered useless. There’s so much to factor in including:

· Cost

· Potential downtime

· Data transferring

· Training staff

Switching to industrial PCs gives you more to think about and when all is said and done, the cost and convenience of installing an enclosure might be more appealing.

8. Why Shouldn’t I Opt for an Industrial PC?

There are many reasons, but there are a couple of reasons why many businesses choose industrial computer enclosures and here are a couple of factors:

‘Desktop PCs are preferable to industrial computers because they cost less, offer greater flexibility, are easier to purchase and maintain, plus they simplify IT strategies on the factory floor. Having enclosures means current equipment can be utilised.’

The problem with industrial computers is that if they breakdown beyond repair, the whole unit has to be replaced, costing more. When a standard PC requires replacing, the same enclosure can be used to protect the new one.