Computers are now as omnipresent on the factory floor as production equipment itself, running the machines, tracking data, clocking in employees and more. The problem is, most computers are made for the office environment, and normal levels of dust and moisture.

In many manufacturing environments, however, spray in the air from liquids used in the manufacturing process can wreak havoc with computer hardware, and levels of dust and debris are much higher than in the office environment. We’re not talking about the occasional spill. We’re talking about consistently present liquid in the air, which can be the product you’re manufacturing, such as soda in a soda factory, or lubricants used to keep your equipment functioning.

Lubricants and other liquids disperse into the air, air that computer fans then suck in to cool their processor and other moving bits. Dust clings to that oil or other liquid, burning out the computer long before its expected replacement date.

Many manufacturers deal with the issue of sticky or oily manufacturing floors by buying cheap computers and replacing them frequently. However, is this the best approach and use of your resources?

Among options/scenarios available to the manufacturer are:

  • Computer cabinets designed to protect hardware from harsh environments.
  • A sealed computer, originally designed for the health industry, that can be steam cleaned, or run in a shower. (Yes, this is a thing! This exact computer ended up being the right-fit solution for the soda factory’s constantly sticky air).
  • A more robust computer model, that can handle a dusty or oily environment, with a longer replacement horizon.

It’s a matter of budget vs. cash flow—sometimes a larger investment on the front end will save money in the long run.

One of our customers struggled with the constant breakdown of the computers running their label printers. They had 3 printers—one in shipping, two in production. Next to the machines was a waterfall of cutting oils. When we first looked at their situation, they were purchasing a $300 “throwaway” computer ever year (and paying for installation each time).

We encouraged them to consider the 5-year cost if they continued in the same vein: $1,500 plus 5 installations, versus the cost of one higher-end computer with one installation. In the long run, it made sense to invest in the more expensive machine, as it worked out to cost less over 5 years’ time.

Do you have a sticky or oily area in your manufacturing facility? Do you frequently replace computers that inexplicably break down on your factory floor? It may be due to dust, oils, and other contaminants. Schedule a call with one of our hardware experts—and we will help fit you with an affordable solution for the long haul.

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