Hardened Industrial Computing Solutions for Hazardous Manufacturing Environments
In industrial manufacturing environments, facilities routinely store and dispense large quantities of hazardous, flammable, and combustible liquids. Given the potential for the accumulation of gas, vapor or dust in these areas, the electronic equipment installed for automation and control must be designed specifically to prevent the unintentional ignition of these elements due to an electric arc or to other thermal means.
Although great attention is paid to the components of the automation systems used to control the process itself, these systems also require computer equipment such as thin clients, panel PCs, remote touch screens, KVM solutions ( keyboard, video, mouse), as well as fixed equipment and workstations for mobile operators.
Given the risks, this equipment must also meet the requirements for use in hazardous classified areas and be robust enough to withstand the harsh chemical environment and high humidity generated during the industrial manufacturing process.
“In industry, the manufacture, processing, storage and distribution of flammable materials release gases or vapors into the atmosphere which may cause an explosion or hazard. To create a safe and secure working environment, computer systems on the construction site must, according to regulations, be designed to pass explosion-proof certification and be able to withstand the corrosive environment,” said Paul Shu of ARISTA Corporation. , a leading provider of computer platforms and visualization display products, including thin clients, all-in-one panel computers, ruggedized LCD touchscreens and industrial KVM solutions.
Hardened IT Solutions for Hazardous Environments
In simple terms, a classified hazardous location is any area, building, commercial or industrial premises liable to be exposed to fire or explosion due to the presence of flammable gases, vapours, flammable liquids, combustible dusts and other similar materials in very large quantities.
Hazardous locations can be classified into different categories depending on the nature of the flammable vapors or liquids. In North America, a class/division system is primarily used and regulations for the design and manufacture of industrial equipment are formulated by the NEC, CEC, OSHA and NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) .
Outside of North America, a similar “zone” system is used to define and categorize hazardous areas and potential sources of risk.
To meet the requirements of industrial environments, there are several methods to make equipment explosion-proof and explosion-proof. For computer systems, equipment manufacturers serving the market can design and manufacture thin clients, industrial panel PCs, and touch screen PCs that are UL Listed, nonincendive (equipment with electrical/electronic circuits incapable of, under normal operating conditions, cause ignition of specified flammable gas, vapour, dust, etc. by arc or thermal means) and which meet the requirements of the various classes/divisions/zones of a factory or power station.
ARISTA, for example, offers a wide range of fully sealed, panel-mounted touchscreen computers for use in industrial environments. The fully enclosed version is constructed from stainless steel and has no external vents.
This design protects components from gases, dust, dirt, moisture, chemicals, oil and other external contaminants in an explosive environment.
According to Shu, touchscreen PCs of varying sizes are routinely deployed as HMI workstations in hazardous industrial operations, which can include the storage and dispensing of large volumes of flammable and combustible liquids.
For this type of application, Panel Mount PCs are ruggedized fanless systems certified for use in Class 1 Division 2, Class 2 Division 2, and Class 3 Division 1 and 2 hazardous locations. Systems are installed with a Windows operating system and high-resolution touch screens can be handled by operators wearing heavy-duty industrial gloves.
The company also offers fanless versions of thin clients, which are increasingly popular in the industry as a cost-effective way to expand a virtual desktop for more centralized management.
With remote accessibility, it is easier to manage, store and use data and IT administrators can easily access any device connected to the server and make changes. Additionally, thin clients are the easiest to configure, manage, and deploy.
To maintain a completely safe industrial work environment, industrial manufacturers must install computer systems and peripherals that comply with safety regulations and standards for hazardous locations around the world.
By working with leading computing platform vendors with industry experience, facility managers can obtain thin clients, industrial PCs, touchscreen PCs and other mission-critical equipment that is UL certified, non-incendive and corrosion resistant. industrial settings.