Ruggedized Computing Solutions for Hazardous Environments


Corrosion has long been a fact of life in the pulp and paper industry. For high volume production, pulp and paper mills rely on electronics to precisely and efficiently control the process from the receipt of raw materials onward. Over time, these crucial components can be compromised by chemicals, moisture, humidity, and airborne vapors that promote corrosion. Given the extremely corrosive nature of these elements, the electronic equipment installed for automation and control must be designed to withstand these harsh environments.

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Models like this MicroBox-1200A-E01-003-DR Industrial Thin Client are designed for harsh environments.

Although much attention is given to the automation system components used to control the process itself, these systems also require computing equipment such as thin clients, panel PCs, remote touch displays, and KVM (keyboard, video, mouse) solutions. “In the pulp and paper industry, manufacturing releases chemicals and vapors into the atmosphere, resulting in corrosion of critical equipment. To create a safe and secure working environment, computing systems at the worksite must be designed to withstand extremely corrosive conditions,” says Paul Shu of ARISTA Corporation, a leading provider of computing platforms and visualization display products including thin clients, all-in-one panel computers, ruggedized LCD touch displays, and industrial KVM solutions.

To meet the requirements of pulp and paper mills, there are several methods by which equipment can be manufactured. ARISTA, for example, offers a wide range of panel mount and fully sealed touch panel PCs for the pulp and paper industry. The fully enclosed version is constructed of stainless steel and has no external vents. This design protects the components from gases, dust, dirt, moisture, chemicals, oil, and other external contaminants.

According to Shu, the touch panel PCs in various sizes are routinely deployed as HMI workstations in the industry. The systems are installed with a Windows operating system and the high-resolution touch screens can be manipulated by operators wearing heavy duty industrial gloves.

The company also offers fanless thin client versions, which are increasingly popular in the pulp and paper industry at a low total cost of ownership for more centralized management. Thin clients are simpler computers that connect to a server-based environment, which hosts most of the applications, memory, etc. that the crew member will need. With remote accessibility, it is easier to manage, store, and use the data, and IT administrators can conveniently access any device connected to the server and make changes. Moreover, thin clients are easiest to configure, manage, and deploy.

To maintain a completely safe industrial working environment, pulp and paper mills must install ruggedized computing systems and peripherals that can withstand harsh, humid elements. By working with leading providers of computing platforms with experience in the industry, plant managers can obtain the UL-certified, corrosion-resistant thin clients, industrial panel PCs, touch panel PCs, and other critical equipment that will stand up in these environments.

Jeff Elliott is a Torrance, CA-based technical writer. He has researched and written about industrial technologies and issues for the past 20 years. Contact ARISTA Corporation at 510-226-1800 or visit