There are many Industrial IoT devices are located in harsh environments with extreme weather and installation conditions, such as high temperatures, high electromagnetic interference, excessive vibrations, enormous dust storms, high humidity, and many more factors, all of which can have a big impact on devices’ reliability and longevity. Therefore, it is very important to choose fully rugged devices that are highly reliable to ensure operations are not disrupted due to devices breaking down or being damaged. Here we provide you some advice on how to select right devices in consideration of the field environment.
Evaluate Installation Environments to Choose Optimal Industrial-Grade Devices
Many industrial-grade devices are available on the market right now. Most of them feature a rugged design specifically for industrial system applications; they are also industry approved and certified. The dilemma now is to choose the one that will optimize your operations the most as each has its own design and features. Because devices’ performance and reliability impact your costs and the efficiency of long-term operations, making the right choice is vital. The first thing to consider is the type of environment in which a device will be installed. What is the temperature range? What is the electromagnetic/surge protection? Will the device be installed outdoors or indoors? Is water or dust present? Do vibrations occur? From these details, you can get a clear picture of what environment specifications are required for a device. Usually, devices with higher rugged design specifications, such as -40 to 75°C operating temperature range, IP66/67/68 water and dust protection, and EMI/surge level 4 are suitable for most outdoor environments. But these rugged design specifications also mean these devices don’t come cheap. Then again, it is important to remind yourself that choosing devices for their optimal rugged-design specifications based on the installation environment can maximize your ROI for the industrial system.
Review Test Reports and Master Manufacturing Processes
Are you sure the devices you choose are really industrial-grade? To be sure, you need to do two things before you buy them: one is to read test reports, and the other is to evaluate the manufacturing process. These rugged design specifications usually have different criteria for different environments, and are endorsed by different certifications and standards. Let’s take UL certification as an example. UL 60950-1 applies to devices used indoors, while UL 60950-22 is specific to devices used outdoors. This is standard in the industry, and most industrial devices should have this kind of information in their datasheets or user’s manuals. Furthermore, we recommend reviewing the device’s test report or certification by a third-party to confirm that the device satisfies all of the test criteria. Moreover, it is also important to know what manufacturing processes are involved to test these rugged-design specifications as not all of the components assembled in these devices are industrial-grade. Therefore, special manufacturing processes, such as hi-pot and chamber burn-in, to name a few, are required to filter out those devices with weak components. Implementing such a process guarantees that mass-produced devices really come with these rugged design features.
Evaluate MTBF and ask for RMA rates
Maintenance is also a key issue in industrial systems. Therefore, device reliability and longevity needs to be considered. Currently, the most popular method to evaluate a device’s reliability is MTBF (mean time between failures). Obviously, the device with the highest MTBF values should be more reliable than those with lower MTBF values. However, when comparing the MTBF values between different devices, you need to verify whether the calculation standard and profile of the devices are the same. Also, keep in mind that MTBF is a theoretical value: it does not mean the device will not fail in the period indicated by the MTBF. Hence, we recommend asking the supplier for the RMA rate as a reference.
To achieve continuous field connections depend on the reliability of devices. Using common commercial devices without considering installation environment will bring endless maintain and re-installation in the future. The above advice help you to identify how to pick the right product.
- Evaluate the installation environment to choose the optimal industrial-grade devices
- Review test reports and master manufacturing processes
- Evaluate MTBF and ask for RMA rates