Tuesday, July 21, 2015
Shopping for ruggedized electronics is a lot like looking for a pair of jeans - the right fit will provide adequate protection without limiting the user's flexibility. Also just like denim, it seems that investing in the technology of tomorrow will never go out of style.That's why manufacturing companies, mining firms and military branches are committing to more widespread deployment of rugged technology in their facilities as part of this larger trend.
"Companies are committing to rugged technology deployment as part of a larger trend."
As competition becomes increasingly fierce, more and more businesses have sought to distinguish themselves from the competition by introducing systems of data collection and analysis to the factory floor. Plant Engineering even suggested that the need for flexible connectivity options, like rugged serial to Ethernet servers and cloud-based strategies, will set the precedent for a technological revolution in these industries. With a new integration plan comes the need for fresh connectivity solutions - industrial environments are rife with elements that cause traditional IT options to malfunction. Read on to learn why carefully vetting ruggedized devices is just as important as trying on a pair of jeans in the store before you take them home.
Unique environments demand carefully designed hardware
One factor that plant and tech managers must consider when purchasing new network infrastructure is that their facilities aren't ideal IT environments. While it may seem painfully obvious that factory floors are less suited for servers and switches than dedicated data centers environments, it's easy to forget just how many industrial phenomena naturally spell trouble for standard network hardware.
For example, facilities in the oil and gas extraction industries have come to rely on collecting information from various points along the process. However, the gear needed to collect and send data along the way is exposed to extreme temperatures by virtue of the environment. Without access to ruggedized serial devices capable of functioning despite the constraints of the industrial environment, companies would find it nearly impossible to create a network backbone capable of facilitating data collection and analysis.
High and low temperatures are just two of many realities of the industrial environment that make rugged servers and media converters so valuable. In facilities where chemical reactions occur on a routine basis, the risk of exposure to corrosive chemicals is extremely high. Even minimal exposure to highly acidic or basic substances can spell the end for formal IT gear. Rugged models, conversely, are capable of functioning despite routine exposure to dangerous gases and liquids.
Rugged equipment is the right choice for automation
In addition to helping factory managers mimic data center infrastructure on the factory floor, ruggedized hardware is an absolute must for facilities interested in incorporating automated solutions into their factory workflow. In terms of manufacturing facilities, rugged connectivity hardware is key for ensuring control equipment, programmable logic controllers and temperature monitoring systems are capable of getting along.
Not every server is designed to survive factory temperatures.
In terms of process automation, rugged serial servers can be used to perform numerous tasks, including the ability to connect supervisory control and data acquisition systems to a wide variety of switches, relays and control interfaces. This flexibility, along with the peace of mind that comes with choosing reliable hardware, is the perfect response to infrastructure challenges common to industrial environments.
Once you narrow down a make of rugged IT gear that you feel is a good fit for your facility, consider sticking with the same device manufacturer as you build up your infrastructure. Like when shopping for jeans, remember that opting for the cheapest choice available can sometimes lead lead to a poor fit in the near future.
Perle's serial to Ethernet converters connect serial based equipment across an Ethernet network. The Perle IOLAN range of Console Servers, Device Servers and Terminal Servers feature built-in support for IPv6 along with a broad range of authentication methods and encryption technologies.