The challenge with industrial controls and network components, as well as with other electronic devices intended for use in harsh environments is to have them function reliably in spite of adverse conditions.
There is a distinct set of features that makes industrial devices different from components intended for office or data center use. These features are:
1. Extended temperature range. Temperature tolerances from -25 to +60° C (-13 to 140° F) are common and you can even find devices rated for extremes to -40 to +75° C (-40 to +167° F).
2. Resistance to moisture and contaminants. Industrial components are housed in hardened cases that are sealed against contaminants including particulates such as airborne dust, as well as moisture and sometimes chemicals. Some extreme environments may require devices with conformal coating, which is a special film or coating applied to electronic circuitry to provide additional protection.
3. Specialized power supplies. Because of the great variation in power available at industrial sites, industrial components are usually sold separately from their power supply. You need to choose the correct power supply to match both the type of power input from the power grid and the output expected by the powered device.
4. DIN rail and panel mounting. Industrial network components and their power supplies are often mounted on a DIN rail—an industry-standard metal rail, or they’re panel mounted by using tabs on the unit. Both DIN rail and panel-mount units are usually attached to a wall or bulkhead.
5. EMI protection. Because they’re often installed near motors or other electrically noisy machinery, devices for industrial applications are shielded to withstand higher EMI than those intended for office or data center use.