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Home Knowledge Center Protecting Computers in Food & Beverage Environments

Technical Articles & Industry Trends

Protecting Computers in Food & Beverage Environments

Factory worker in a food processing plant using industrial machineryKeeping computers running smoothly in harsh working environments is no simple task. Any number of environmental hazards can be present in the workplace such as dust, water, dirt, and/or chemicals. These hazards can pose a serious problem when your operations require computers to be present in the workplace. For many years the solution has been to use stainless steel enclosures to protect vital equipment from the harmful effects of their surroundings. These enclosures would enable engineers to operate computers in harsh environments without the fear of damage.

NEMA Electrical Protection Ratings

To ensure these enclosures have been designed to provide adequate protection in various environments, the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) created standards governing the appropriate levels of ingress protection provided by enclosures for electrical devices. One of the most versatile and popular enclosure ratings in food processing is the 4X designation.

In order to be considered a NEMA 4X compliant enclosure, the enclosure must be able to protect against falling dirt, dust particulate, splashing water, formation of ice to the exterior, wash downs with a hose, corrosive agents, and unintended contact with the enclosed equipment/components.

Limitations of NEMA 4X Enclosures

NEMA 4X enclosures are certainly built to withstand difficult operating conditions, but are they the best solution? Let’s say that you decide to outfit your food processing environment with computers to help control machinery, display process status, collect data, and transmit information for analysis. You want to keep them safe from regular hose wash downs and chemical disinfectant cleanings. Purchasing NEMA 4X compliant enclosures to house all of your PCs and protect them from the elements makes sense right? We’d say, “maybe.”

For some applications this is a perfect solution, but often this type of solution ends up being rather costly and labor-intensive in the long run. We typically see consumer-grade computers placed in industrial settings have a maximum operating lifecycle of only 18-24 months.

Instead of buying consumer-grade computers that are in need of protection from the elements, wouldn’t it make more sense to simply outfit your operation with industrial-grade computers capable of withstanding these rigorous environments without the need for a bulky enclosure?

NEMA 4X Computing Solutions

Industrial NEMA 4X touchscreen computers from Teguar are specially designed so the unit’s housing itself meets the requirements of a NEMA 4X stainless steel enclosure. This eliminates the need for an additional enclosure and saves physical space by a more seamless integration into your operations. Teguar industrial computers can be panel mounted, wall mounted, or attached to a VESA mount arm and are also fanless, ensuring no opportunity for dust, dirt, or water to damage the internal components. Teguar manufactures its units with industrial-grade parts with the intention that its computers will be in continuous 24/7 operation for years after their initial activation.