Maintaining connectivity and networking components in harsh industrial environments

Harsh conditions demand top quality, tested and proven industrial-grade connectivity equipment to prevent repeated equipment malfunctions and periods of cost-heavy unplanned downtime.

By Max Burkhalter
December 31, 2020
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The industrial sector faces an entirely separate and additional set of challenges when it comes to networking and infrastructure requirements. In many cases, equipment must endure extreme temperatures, dust, dirt, humidity, electronic frequencies and more. These harsh conditions demand top quality, tested and proven industrial-grade connectivity equipment to prevent repeated equipment malfunctions and periods of cost-heavy unplanned downtime.

Organizations that require operation of any type of outdoor installation — or production environments with high ambient temperatures that are maintained around the clock — need robust physical network components to stay in operation. Energy companies, research facilities, manufacturers and agricultural firms all qualify as companies that operate equipment in extreme conditions, and as such require parts that can stand the pressure.

Once the right components are in place, the focus shifts to data collection and equipment management/maintenance.  


The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) means that almost all equipment can be equipped with sensors that gather and transmit data in real time. This data can be used to predict when equipment needs maintenance, whether it's running efficiently, and how it's affecting and being affected by its environment.To maximize the reliability and speed of data collection and transmission, hardened networking equipment that remains fully functional — even in rugged conditions must be an acquisitions priority.

Factory worker standing in snow with digital tabletHarsh conditions like extreme heat or snow can affect networking components.

If key components for connectivity aren't sufficiently built and tested to operate in severe conditions, the need for constant replacement and frequent outages of service may make them a losing proposition if the value of the data collected is overwhelmed by departmental cost overruns, 

Device management
Artificial intelligence and machine learning applied to asset management means that your organization can automatically detect any inconsistencies in environmental conditions that could be affecting your remote network performance, and make necessary changes without any human intervention, according to McKinsey.

Digital twinning can help you manage your equipment remotely with minimal disruption, Investcorp states. This can be the perfect approach for critical infrastructure and equipment located in a remote area with a harsh environment. By tracking local conditions, adjusting operating parameters for optimized functionality, and carefully monitoring component temperatures and network strength, breakdowns can be quickly noted and a team dispatched for in-the-field remediation. 

Predictive maintenance
Integrated predictive maintenance can reduce those instances of breakdown, mitigating the need to dispatch crews under harsh conditions or in dangerous terrain. By anticipating malfunctions and developing workarounds, you can avoid unplanned downtime and data loss. Predictive maintenance is a step up from preventive maintenance, as Deloitte notes, since it uses data analysis to precisely pinpoint time and coalition of potential breakdown instead of setting an arbitrary schedule based on laws of averages. 

If you have equipment operating in harsh environments, and want to maintain stable connectivity, Perle offers industrial-grade networking tools designed for all types of harsh outdoor and indoor environments. Our industrial Ethernet switches are built to exceed the specifications of commercial switches with industrial safety certification and approval for hazardous locations, graded for use in extreme temperatures of -40°C to 75°C, and  resistant to vibrations and shock. To learn more, read some of our customers' success stories.


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