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From the expert: choosing the right industrial PC

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Knowing your 304 stainless steel from your 316L, and distinguishing IP66 from IP69K, can make choosing the right industrial PC a breeze. But if you’re unfamiliar with these ratings, don’t worry, it’s all in a day’s work for DSL Product Manager David Cooper.

“Deciding on the best system for your particular project, as well as for the environment in which it will be installed, can be tricky,” says David. “There’s a lot to consider.”

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The good news is there is now an array of options when it comes to industrial computers that can handle the potentially volatile environments in which the system will be deployed.

Industrial Panel PCs (IPCs) are designed to meet demanding requirements including exposure to moisture, dust, extreme temperatures, high shock and vibration. However, selecting the right IPC for harsh environments without specialist support is anything but straightforward.

David says: “It’s essential to weigh up the options comprehensively to ensure reliable and uninterrupted operation into the future. Industrial environments can be unforgiving; careful consideration needs to be given to factors such as ingress protection (IP), steel grade and ruggedness.

“If an inappropriate product is chosen that isn’t up to the job, and the system is damaged, there are major consequences for any organisation. It could lead to a loss of data, delays in production or safety implications. All of which mean time, money and potential reputational damage.”

These outcomes can be easily avoided by using environmentally-appropriate materials; namely stainless steel products with the correct IP ratings.

IP69K vs IP66 vs IP67

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An IP, or Ingress Protection, rating is a two-digit grading system that’s applied to the enclosure of a mechanical or electrical item, giving users a clear indication of the item’s resistance to various types of unwanted intrusion.

The first digit denotes intrusion protection where 6 is the highest level of protection and totally dust tight; the second digit is water protection where 8 is the highest. There is a slight quirk to this scale with the IP69K rating. This rating does not provide more water ingress protection than IP68 but it does provide protection against close range high pressure, high temperature cleaning jets. In many environments, it is important to ensure that particles and liquids cannot penetrate the casing of a product and cause it to fail.

DSL’s IP66-rated products offer excellent performance for many environments and signify the highest level of dust protection, with no ingress of dust whatsoever; and the third-highest level of water protection, with no ingress from precipitation or hose-directed water.

Although an IP66 enclosure is waterproof against hose-directed water, it’s not intended to be submerged in water. For an enclosure that’s resistant to temporary submersion, you’ll need an IP67 fully waterproof industrial PC housed in a compact stainless steel enclosure, like the ACS-2702A, which is protected against the effects of temporary submersion of up to 1M for 30 minutes. This system uses M12 waterproof connectors for the I/O to make sure devices can be connected without the risk of water damage to the system.

DSL’s IP69K-rated products provide the highest possible protection against ingress of dust and high water pressure at high temperatures – making products with this rating ideal for use in industries where equipment must be sanitised such as food and drink processing or medical/pharmaceutical settings, where hygiene and cleanliness is vital.

The ViTAM range is a stainless steel IP69K rated panel PC which can withstand high pressure steam jet cleaning, with a vandal-proof 7H hardened glass (PCAP only) for ultimate durability and -20°c / 60°c operation. As this can be used as a standalone free-standing unit it also uses the M12 connectors to keep the I/O water tight.

The FABS range is a food safety grade lightweight front IP66/69K rated panel PC with stainless steel front bezel.

Both are made with 304 stainless steel but the enclosures can be upgraded to 316L stainless steel.

What are the differences in 304 and 316L types of stainless steel?

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Stainless steel is not a single alloy. The name applies to a group of iron-based alloys containing a minimum 10.5% chromium.

Grade 304 contains 18% chromium and 8% nickel and has excellent corrosion resistance in most applications. Grade 316L has an addition of at least 2% molybdenum, which significantly increases the metal’s resistance to “salt” corrosion. As with the IP rating, you need to determine which circumstances your device is likely to encounter.

David says: “304 is the most versatile and widely used and fine within food and drink production environments. 316L stainless steel costs a little more upfront but it could save you a whole lot of problems further down the line, particularly in marine environments and any environment where there may be chemicals.

“It really depends on the environment – 304 has a higher melting point, and 316 has a better resistance to chemicals and chlorides. Each environment and application has unique demands and needs the right stainless steel that’s up to the task.”

Specialist support

Still not sure which panel PC is right for your business? Contact DSL’s friendly team who can help guide you. The team can offer site visits to see where the item/s are to be situated and offer the best possible on-the-ground advice. Plus, there’s a five-year warranty as standard on all products.

Stainless steel industrial VESA mounts are also available, designed to complement, and give total flexibility to, our stainless steel panel PCs and industrial displays.

You can find the range of stainless steel panels pcs here.