4 Key Factors to Look for When Selecting an Industrial Server

industrial-server-roomA server is a computer system that serves client computers on a network providing advanced services and hosting solutions. While regular servers are already quite expensive, it’s still important to keep focused on quality when you’re looking for the improved reliability and protection that an industrial grade server can offer.

Let’s take a look at some of the most significant factors to look for when deciding on your next industrial server purchase, and the main benefits that these special systems truly have to offer.

1. Increased Durability and Reliability

Durability is a key issue when it comes to regular industrial computers, and can be even more important when talking about industrial servers. A server has to provide increased uptime, stable connections and superior quality hardware that doesn’t break down as often as in the case of most commercial servers.

The best servers in the industry run at optimal performance even if temperature fluctuations outside the casing could cause regular computers to malfunction. Your server will withstand these changes, while providing adequate cooling and temperature retention, and being fitted with components that can easily withstand shocks and vibrations.

2. Advanced Performance and Increased Memory

Modern day industrial servers can offer up to 512 Gb of RAM memory, and are fitted with CPUs that are capable of remarkable processing speeds. You can generally get up to three options for getting an advanced motherboard, and as in the case of regular computer servers, you have the option of getting either a Windows (Windows 8 or Windows Server 2012) or Linux operating system.

Unlike what you might observe in the case of commercial servers, an industrial server’s performance levels and speed will not fluctuate according to exterior temperatures and conditions, being ideal for use under difficult conditions and circumstances.

3. Environmental Standards

While regular industrial PCs might be designed to comply with one or two industrial environmental standards, in order to be used under specific circumstances, industrial servers are far more advanced and complex.

They will normally be constructed in accordance with several standards, such as MIL-STD-810, allowing it to withstand temperatures between -40C and +70C degrees, MIL-STD-810 for enhanced humidity resistance and MIL-STD-810 to resist strong vibrations. Aside from all these standards, some servers will also be built to work quite well at altitudes of over 10,000 – 20,000 feet.

4. Industrial Grade Computer Chassis

Probably the most important role played by an industrial computer’s components when it comes to enhanced resistance to the elements is that of the chassis.

A dependable server chassis will have an increased number of features to assist in completely enclosing the components, like rackmount monitors, and protecting them from harm, offering practical I/O capabilities, balancing storage and efficiency, and facilitating the highest possible standards for flexibility, for the purpose of allowing you to upgrade your server over time.

These are just some of the main qualities that a reliable industrial server can provide you with. Depending on the brand you are considering, as well as your budget range, even some of the best and most durable products in the industry may be accessible to you today.

The Key Differences Between an Industrial PC and a Commercial PC

commercial-server-roomMost people already had plenty of experiences with commercial computers. Either at home, at the office or at school, commercial PCs, laptops and tablet computers with touch screens are commonly found just about anywhere in the world.

Industrial computers are much less frequently seen, and some people aren’t even aware of their existence. Do you think you may need one for your special applications? You will first have to know exactly what sets industrial PCs apart from their commercial grade counterparts.

Understanding Commercial Computer Construction

Commercial computers are fairly straightforward. They use regular metal or plastic cases, as well as motherboards, fans, hard drives and CD/DVD units that you’d normally find in your home PC. Advanced servers and computer systems you might find in an office or at your school may feature a slightly faster microprocessor, additional RAM, or hi-tech SSD and RAID storage devices.

However, the case and all the components of a commercial computer are commercial grade, meaning that they don’t necessarily withstand the trying conditions present in harsher environments, and they can be damaged more easily even under normal circumstances.

The Superior Build of an Industrial PC

An industrial PC is built using special cases and durable, industrial grade components that are designed to last for years beyond the capacity of regular PC components. You won’t have to repair an industrial computer that often, and most of them are designed using solid state components (no moving parts), as well as highly durable casing and internal cooling devices that require no openings or venting.

Environmental Protection

Another important aspect that sets industrial PCs apart from commercial computers is environmental protection. This doesn’t so much have to do with Energy Star standards (available for both types of PCs) as with protecting the computer components from damage incurred in trying environments.

Fire damage and explosions, increased humidity and bad weather, dust, debris and shocks, are all factors that can render a regular computer useless after being exposed to them. With an industrial grade PC, you get special casings, safety components and elements brought up to various industrial and military standards to offer ideal protection in power plants, TV and radio towers, construction sites, special labs, medical locations, weather monitoring facilities and many other places where additional protection is required.

Connectivity and Communication Ports

One of the downsides of industrial grade technology is that USB ports and some other advanced connectivity features are not available in most cases.

While all commercial computers and tablets are fitted with USB or micro USB ports, industrial PCs rely, for the most part, on serial and parallel communication ports. They use these types of connections for anything from operating interfaces, to backpack drives, network printers, remote touch screen interfaces and RFID systems.

Special Software and Operating Systems

Industrial PCs are commonly fitted with special operating systems and software guaranteed to work continuously for at least 15 years after they have been installed, as opposed to commercial systems that break down much faster.

These and many other software and hardware upgrades are what makes industrial PCs so special. With the best industrial computers at your disposal, you’ll find you can fit a durable computer system just about in any environment and under any circumstances.

5 Rugged Environments That Require an Industrial PC

rugged enviornment computerIndustrial computers are normally used to make sure they are not easily damaged in rugged environments. Some environments, however, are so rugged that it would be foolhardy to attempt the use of a regular computer under most circumstances – not only to prevent the computer from being damaged, but in some cases to also avoid catastrophic situations such as fires and explosions.

1. Adverse Weather Conditions and Humidity

Gathering data in remote locations frequently hit by hurricanes and snow storms is key when it comes to weather monitoring. The computers that have to be operated in these areas are specially designed to withstand wide humidity and temperature fluctuations that would normally destroy a regular PC.

Humidity can also be a problem when doing underground research. Facilities operating in those types of environments are often equipped with tough, durable computer systems that are also designed to fit in smaller areas.

2. Environments Requiring EMI and RFI Immunity

Power plants, radio and TV towers, nuclear plants and advanced medical facilities that use ISM equipment are all sources of continuous or pulse electromagnetic interference (EMI) or radio frequency interference (RFI). These environments may not require computers that can withstand shocks and temperature differences, but they do require special industrial computers equipped with built-in EMI immunity.

Whether lightning strikes your radio tower or huge discharges occur that would fry a regular computer, a specially designed industrial computer will help prevent any potential issues.

3. Industrial Construction Zones

A construction area is obviously no place for a regular, expensive tablet computer or laptop. Dust, noise, vibration and shocks can significantly impair the proper functioning of such a device, or even damage it beyond the possibility of repair.

Solid state fully-rugged tablets and laptops are the best choice for industrial construction areas, due not only to their increased resistance to shock and immunity to dust and debris related damage, but also because of their smaller size and increased manageability.

4. Ships and Planes

Ships and airplanes are not usually a good place to use a regular PC. Weather conditions, EMI interference and increased shocks due to turbulence can present significant problems that can even lead to life-threatening situations. A particularly difficult environment is aboard a military vessel or airplane, where combat situations can present an added impediment, aside from the shocks and difficult conditions imposed by shocks and bad weather.

Special industrial grade rugged computers are designed to comply with military standards such as MIL-STD-810 or MIL-S-901, allowing them to operate on ships and boats, or during air travel, under the most challenging of circumstances.

5. Potentially Explosive Environments

Computers set up for monitoring areas where flammable gases or vapors cannot be properly contained and the risk to set off an explosion is marginally high also have to be built according to special safety standards. Chemical and power plants, special science and research laboratories and hazardous locations associated with electrical engineering are some of the main locations where only computers designed to prevent and withstand fire and explosive hazards can be used.

These are just a few of the environments where using industrial computers has become a necessity. Fortunately, the technology continues to improve so that the newest standards for safety and durability are applied in the construction of an increasing number of high quality industrial PCs worldwide.

3 Key Environmental Factors That Affect the Functionality of a PC

PC HeatWhether designed for personal use or for commercial and industrial applications, computers are complex and complicated devices that can perform properly only if they are kept among optimal environmental conditions. There are a number of such factors that must be taken into consideration when choosing a place for your computer – here are the most important ones.

 

Moisture

 

Devices that have metal and electrical components are very sensitive to moisture, computers being no exceptions. If the level of humidity in the air surrounding the computer is too high, it may cause metal parts to rust and might seriously damage the components that have electricity running through them by causing short circuits. Both rust and short circuits can cause physical damage to the components affected, but what is even more important, they can cause permanent data loss as well.

 

Ideally, the relative humidity in the air surrounding the computer should be around 45-60 percent. Due to their special, encased construction, laptops are more resilient and able to function among humidity ranging from 30 to 80 percent.

 

Temperature

 

Computers are also sensitive to temperature, both to heat and cold. The electric components run on low voltage current. When these components are exposed to excessive heat, their resistance decreases, which causes the current to increase, leading to slow operation or, in more serious cases, physical damage.

 

Cold environments can also damage computers, but to a smaller extent than high heat. Low temperatures are dangerous especially when the computer is booting. The components of the machine become cold while turned off, then the current that passes through them when the computer is switched on starts heating them. The heat expands whatever it reaches – if some of the components expand faster than others, the ones that don’t change size so rapidly may get damaged by the pieces that grow more quickly. Laptop screens are especially sensitive to very low temperatures because they use liquid crystals that freeze easily.

 

The ideal temperature range for computers is between 10 and 26 degrees C (50 -79F) in the case of desktop machines and 10-35 (50-95F) degrees C for laptops.

 

Dust and Other Debris

 

Dust, dirt, hair and other debris that get inside the case of the machine are also known to be computer killers – they can gather on the cooling fan and block it, causing the system to overheat or they can cause essential components of the computer to short circuit.

 

This may sound bad, but dust, dirt and debris are the risk factors that can be completely eliminated with regular maintenance. All you need is a can of air, a small brush, a small-size vacuum cleaner, some isopropyl alcohol and a soft cloth. Use the canned air and the brush to remove dust from all the surfaces inside the casing, then move your vacuum around a bit to remove all the debris and wipe all the non-electrical components with the alcohol, using the cloth.

 

Try to do the cleaning with firm, quick, but gentle movements and clean the internal and the external surfaces as well – that way you can be sure that you have done everything you could to protect your PC against dust and dirt.