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Play it Cool | 6 Top Tips for Industrial Computer Cabinet Use to Limit Heat

Computers used on the shop floor will get hot. Protecting your capital assets from overheating requires air flow management, temperature control, efficient energy consumption and a way to keep computer technology cool… constantly. Here’s why an industrial computer cabinet is right for the job.

If computer technology is at the heart of your shop floor, you might be wary of the risk to your business if it fails. An extended period of downtime can have a knock-on effect, potentially resulting in failure to deliver on deadlines, reputational damage and ultimately, loss of market share as customers turn to your competitors.

Downloadable: 7 Problems PC Protection can Prevent on the Production Floor

The primary threat to computers used in industrial environments is overheating. Why? Computers are working harder and faster than ever before to keep up with the demands of modern manufacturing. With that in mind, an industrial computer cabinet represents a low-cost, long-term way to keep shop floor computers cool.

If you don’t want to lose big contracts and customers to competitors by falling foul of dreaded downtime, here’s how to setup an industrial computer enclosure to prevent overheating…

… 6 practical points to consider when using an industrial computer cabinet

  1. Follow supplier instructions

Positioning of your industrial computer cabinet is key. Here’s an example of a wall-mounted unit.

Computers and any peripherals must be setup within an industrial computer cabinet in accordance with manufacturer guidelines. Enclosures can be wall-mounted, pedestal-mounted or freestanding, which is something else to consider when installing your equipment.

  1. Correct air flow

A continual flow of air within an industrial computer cabinet reduces the impact of heat.

The arrangement of components within an industrial computer cabinet should allow air to flow from top to bottom. You can confirm this with your supplier when planning an enclosure purchase.

  1. Space to breathe

Leave ample space between electrical components and devices to ensure that air can flow freely.

A pedestal-mounted enclosure with internal components and devices given room to breathe.
  1. Air intake

Air intake is crucial to the performance of your industrial computer cabinet.

For effective air intake, avoid obstructing enclosure components with computer monitors, PC towers, printers or cables. Your climate control computer enclosure should direct air towards any drive units, which is where heat output is at its highest.

Routing air to the drive units enables your industrial computer cabinet to cool them sufficiently enough to prevent overheating. 

  1. Internal temperature

The internal temperature of your industrial computer cabinet should not drop below +35oC.

The recommended internal temperature of your industrial computer cabinet is +35oC. Any lower is likely to result in increased condensation. There are no technical benefits to having the internal temperature of an enclosure below the +35oC threshold.

  1. Clean your enclosures

It’s a good idea to implement a regular cleaning cycle for industrial computer enclosures.

Implement a regimented cleaning cycle. Using industrial computer cabinets in harsh environments means components such as filters and fans will need sprucing up from time to time. A shop floor facility with a high level of dust is likely to command more regular cleaning of your enclosures.

Industrial computer cabinets do more than dissipate heat

Industrial computer enclosures are a low-cost, long-term solution for manufacturing facilities.

Computers have a lot to contend with when used in a manufacturing environment, which makes them vulnerable to breakdown. Heat is the tip of the iceberg. Dust, dirt, oil, grease, grime and water each represent a threat to computer functionality.

If you’re the industrial buyer for your business, you won’t want to get your enclosure selection wrong. You need an industrial computer cabinet that can not only handle the heat, but can stand up to the day-to-day brutality of the shop floor, whatever it may bring.

Downloadable: Computer Integration on the Shop Floor

With that in mind, here are a few additional qualities you should look for from a computer enclosure:

  1. Certifications

Most industrial computer enclosure suppliers tend to ‘self-certify’, which is common practice. However, if you’re after that little bit extra in terms of quality, the trick is to identify those suppliers who have their products independently tested.

  1. Industry standard ratings

Any industrial computer cabinet worth its weight in gold will specify the level of protection it offers when used in manufacturing facilities. Across Europe, you should look out for enclosures that carry an IP rating. In the US, look out for the NEMA rating.

  1. Flexibility

Enjoy all the benefits of industrial computing with greater flexibility.

An industrial computer cabinet that enables you to switch out or upgrade technology as needed is a must for the modern manufacturing facility. Look for those systems that offer front and rear access, give you the option of using a keyboard or mouse or allow you to customize the unit to suit your shop floor.

  1. Quality materials and components

The hallmark of a quality industrial computer cabinet is often in the detail. The majority of enclosures that can survive the hostility of the shop floor tend to be manufactured using powder coated or high-grade stainless steel. They will feature high-quality insulation and fans, plus heating and cooling systems to conserve critical computer equipment.

  1. Credibility

Well-respected brand names, who won’t entrust their projects to just anyone, will use quality industrial computer cabinets and endorse them. Evidence of securing high-profile projects, case studies and positive customer feedback are an indication of a top-spec supplier and quality enclosures.

Downloadable: 10 Qualities of an Industrial Computer Enclosure Worth Buying

Industrial computer protection that lasts for decades

The right industrial computer cabinet will last for decades, and there’s no reason why your technology can’t last just as long. From an operational perspective, you stand to reduce the risk of downtime on the shop floor, improve efficiency and slash costs, which is sure to please your boss.

Creating your own rugged industrial computer solution for the shop floor, using an enclosure, is a cheaper, less time intensive solution. However, this does not mean that it’s a lesser solution. In fact, a shop floor ready computer cabinet can do the same job as a solid-state industrial PC, but with greater flexibility.

The single-biggest issue with purpose-built industrial computers is that you’re dependent on the manufacturer for maintenance and upgrades. If something goes wrong or software needs updating, it’s not a straightforward fix, which means you’re in the hands of an engineer and there’s no guarantee of ‘same day service’.

Without the immediate administering of upgrades or repairs, what you’ve got is an expensive industrial computer that’s sat idle. It’s a bit like buying a Ferrari, which develops a fault and sits in your driveway until you can afford to repair it.

An industrial computer cabinet protects against data loss

Computers are an integral part of gathering manufacturing floor data to identify productivity improvements. While there is no substitute for backing up your data, we’re all guilty of forgetting to do it. Protecting industrial computer equipment at least prevents the loss of data in the event of irreparable damage to a data gathering computer system.

Equally, an industrial computer cabinet serves as a theft deterrent, preventing the loss of data via malicious means. Regularly unattended computers housed in an industrial enclosure improves security.

‘To boldly go where computers never could before’

20 years ago, the idea of using a standard, office PC on the shop floor was inconceivable… not anymore. An industrial computer cabinet allows for the use of common, desktop PCs and monitors in the shop floor realm. Not only is this highly convenient, it’s highly cost-effective.

Manufacturing facilities can make use of existing computer equipment on today’s shop floor and upgrade to newer technologies without having to overhaul an entire built-in system.

Delivered ready to use, the appeal of an industrial computer cabinet is that there’s no extensive set up procedure, they last for years and they’re a low-cost way to computerize the manufacturing floor. This is why they’re widely used by facilities in need of a fast, hassle free solution for computer use on the shop floor.

See for yourself the benefits of the mighty industrial computer cabinet. Help yourself to this downloadable guide, now…

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Daniel Waldron

Daniel Waldron

Head of Content at Armagard
11 years+ a copywriter, Daniel joined Armagard in November 2013. Daniel is the company's Head of Content and specialises in the production of web copy, articles, blogs, press releases and white papers, for use by Armagard's marketing team.
Daniel Waldron
Daniel Waldron
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