L’ruggedized computing: c’What is it ?
Ruggedized hardware is designed to be used in an environment hostile to computer and electronic equipment. They benefit from specific protections compared to computers and peripherals offered to the general public. Thanks to this treatment, professionals will be able to take advantage of the benefits of digital and automated tools, even under difficult conditions.
What is ruggedized computing ?
L’hardened computer refers to equipment designed to withstand physical and thermal aggression. Beyond marketing, the expression allows to mark the difference with computers and other accessories of the consumer market. This type of equipment is only available from specialized players such as IP systems.
In addition, the experience of the supplier allows to benefit from tools that are robust, efficient and practical on a daily basis.
Ruggedized computers were originally designed for military use. The process of hardening then spread to the industrial environment. The democratization of these solutions comes essentially from their robustness.
Indeed, hardened tools can generally resist to vibrations, shocks, falls, dust, humidity, even immersion.
Many hardware products are also capable of withstanding extreme temperatures.
For adapt to the needs of professionals, manufacturers have developed semi-hardened, hardened and ultra-hardened equipment. These terms refer to three levels of protection and, therefore, of robustness of computer equipment. In the first case, the equipment can withstand specific conditions of use, such as humidity, vibrations or dust.
It will then be exposed to other types of unanticipated aggression such as heat or wide temperature variations.
Ruggedized equipment, on the other hand, offers better protection against most physical and thermal stresses. However, the level of resistance remains limited in each environment. It is therefore important to carefully read the instructions for use and the recommendations provided by the manufacturer.
If not used properly, external conditions can damage the computer, tablet, sensor, etc.
Finally, the term “ultra-hardened” guarantees a optimal resistance to the aggressions typical of sustained use in a hostile environment. This type of hardware can withstand, among other things, immersion, drops, extreme temperatures, and even exposure to chemicals. However, the proposed tools are not totally indestructible.
It remains important to check the conditions of use foreseen by the designers of the device and the associated peripherals.
In this segment, the limits remain adapted to the current needs of professionals.
How it can help industrial automation ?
L’usefulness of ruggedized computing is particularly visible in the steel and similar industries. These activities are characterized by daily exposure to extreme heat, dust and steam. To automate processes, it will be necessary to install computer equipment in this hostile environment.
The classic equipment is however not adapted to these conditions.
Ruggedized tools can meet just this need. With these solutions, industrialists will be able to equip themselves with a robust computer park with computers, tablets, sensors, controllers, etc. They will then have the necessary elements to set up an automated production line.
Thus, ruggedized hardware makes a concrete contribution to industrial automation.
To choose your devices properly, it is highly recommended to approach specialized players in the field. These professionals will be able to analyze the conditions of use envisaged and determine the most suitable equipment. Manufacturers must also learn to decipher the protection indexes (IP), against solids (1st digit) and liquids (2nd digit). For example, you will have to read:
- IP x9K: resistant to steam cleaning and high pressure water jets;
- IP 68: dustproof and resistant to immersion for 30 minutes at 1.5 m ;
- IP 67: fully protected against dust and against immersion at 1 m up to 30 minutes;
- IP 65: resistant to dust and water jets from all directions;
- IP 44: protected against solids larger than 1 mm and water spray from all directions.
The MIL STD-810 certification also makes it possible to recognize rugged devices. This is a standard referring to the standards of the US Army. These tests are known to be relevant for immersion, dust exposure and high temperature variations.
Indeed, this type of device is especially designed for underwater or desert missions.