Subscribe to MEM Magazine

MEM Business

How to Handle Industrial Harsh Environment


What is an industrial harsh environment

In this sense, an “industrial harsh environment” exerts physical stress on a piece of equipment. Extremely high or low temperatures, high pressures, strong vibrations, or explosive risks are examples of these stresses. In industrial applications, sophisticated electronic controls and sensing components improve the manufacturing, machining, and production methods. With the development of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), “smart” connected products are being utilised in a wider range of applications and their environments. These frequently refer to extremely difficult places where IIoT can aid in the monitoring of vital parameters. When electronics should function in industrial environments or under harsh temperatures, which may also involve destructively strong magnetic and electric fields, then these should be tolerated by appropriate system designs. Testing requirements must be followed to ensure that the technology installation works effectively for the specified operational lifespan.

Industrial IoT towards the harsh environment

The Internet of Things necessitates the use of resource-constrained electronic equipment in harsh conditions. Smart objects are frequently subjected to heat, humidity, mechanical stress, electromagnetic radiation, and physical assaults, and some of these hostile environmental variables can have a significant impact on overall system performance. For instance, Radio interference from co-located Wi-Fi and Bluetooth networks can result in considerable data loss, increasing end-to-end latency and energy usage. Temperature variations through time and space have an effect on the performance of electrical and electronic components and can have a substantial influence on clock drift, battery capacity, discharge, and the efficiency of low-power radios. Adverse climatic conditions generally have a significant influence on the dependability and energy efficiency of IoT connectivity, making the deployment of IoT applications difficult. It is necessary to provide strategies and implement tools using Artificial Intelligence and Machine learning for predicting and eventually increasing the reliability of the IoT systems. Many IIoT and industrial automation applications necessitate the use of electronics that are designed to withstand harsh environments.

Effects of harsh environment in industrial applications

A harsh environment could be defined as a collection of conditions that, over time, can cause bodily system harm. The concept is much similar for electronics; for example, an electrical circuit may be easily damaged or destroyed if exposed to water or excessive humidity levels. Extreme temperature ranges, particle ingress, electrostatic discharge (ESD), electromagnetic interference (EMI), vibrations, and physical impact are all potentially harmful situations.

Applications examples such as the geothermal gradient of deep wells, here the equipment is in a harsh environment and must be able to withstand progressively high temperatures. Components of such applications must be able to function at temperatures above 200°C whilst performing at peak capacity, as failures result in costly rig downtime.

Vibration is a primary cause of system failure and other operational issues in electronic devices. Vibration isolation is an important element of product design in many industrial sectors. If left uncontrolled, hostile circumstances will eventually damage the whole system.

Design Considerations in an industrial harsh environment

The specifications of a product are affected by the unique environmental conditions under which it is utilised. A few design considerations must be factored in to survive in an industrial harsh environment.

Voltage transients are managed through the use of a simple and discrete circuit, consisting of a series fuse with a Transient-Voltage Suppressor (TVS) diode or Zener diode, or Metal Oxide Varistors (MOV).

Harsh Temperature and Semiconductor thermal concerns arise when electronic equipment is housed in an airtight industrial indoor environment. Heat is dissipated by the devices, and increasing temperatures will harm them. Choosing low thermal impedance packages and active or passive cooling aids in heat transmission away from the device.

“Intrinsic Safety” refers to explosion protection that shields the electrical circuit and limits the amount of energy discharged if a component or wiring breaks. The aim is to stop ignition.

The design, mating mechanism, and pin placement of the connection (connector design) all contribute to its robustness.

Systems with reduced lifecycle energy use and cost.


Manufacturing & Engineering Magazine | The Home of Manufacturing Industry News

Increased lifetime due to reduced losses and thermal stress.

Data transmission between PLCs, sensors, actuators, and motors takes place in harsh conditions. Outdoor cellular base stations, linked factories, and IoT sensors on Industrial platforms are just a few examples of connections at the system’s point of entry, the right connections must be firmly constructed to seal off and protect against all environmental challenges, from shock and vibration to dust and water, or EMI.

Protection Concept in a harsh environment for electrical and electronic components

All protection methods share a common rule, components exposed to a potentially harsh environment must not undergo unacceptable temperatures, excessive current, overvoltage flow, or transients, among other things. Most voltage-protection systems use diodes to shunt voltage faults, which protects from early-stage failures at the start of a power failure. And also voltage supervisor ICs are responsible for Overvoltage/Under-voltage Protection (OVP/UVP). They continually monitor system supplies or power rails, alerting or gating off downstream systems. Integrated protection ICs and current sensing amplifiers, current limiters, e-fuses, and optimum diode solutions are responsible for Overcurrent Protection (OCP). They assist to accurately control overload currents and require minimal power whilst occupying a small space.

Electrostatic discharge (ESD) is caused by charge imbalance of dissimilar materials, as well as electromagnetic interference (EMI) which is all electrical-noise pollution created by an external source in the circuit. This compels the need for EMI/ESD Protection and by extension, the design’s long-term dependability. The employment of common-mode filters for EMI protection, in conjunction with current ESD protection technologies, increases system robustness. The Derating protection and intrinsic safety requirements necessitate the careful selection of the components utilised so that they do not exceed two-thirds of their rated voltage, power, and current when subjected to a typical fault and operating circumstances. Also they are overrated for the specific application but not so much that they fail to provide the necessary protection.

Standards used to overcome harsh environment

Components used in hostile environments are designed to fulfill industry standards such as NEMA ratings and the IP Code (IEC 60529), and often surpass military or space-level specifications. The IP (Ingress Protection) Code, specified by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) under the IEC 60529 standard, denotes the various types and degrees of protection provided by an electrical enclosure. The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), like the IP Code, has a common standard for protective enclosures used in harsh environments.

NEMA 250 provides ratings for both hazardous and nonhazardous indoor and outdoor environments, and it covers a larger range of harsh conditions than the IP code. Water and foreign materials such as fiber or dust, as well as corrosive substances and gases, are examples of these situations. More information about IP and NEMA-rated products is found here.

Industrial IoT application in harsh environment

The IoT does expose highly resource-constrained computing equipment to harsh environmental conditions. However, installing IoT devices and connecting them in harsh environments is incredibly challenging, including the factors such as restricted transmission range of the devices, pointing among transceivers, and high reliance on the medium of propagation. For example, to monitor a specific location, such as an immersed environment, IoT devices must be placed at the bottom or linked to a surface buoy. The data collected by these devices must then be transmitted to the outside world, necessitating the use of communication technology (acoustic, optical, magnetic induction, or hybrid). Furthermore, the sensing data from these IoT devices must be geo-tagged, necessitating the use of precise localisation algorithms.

As a result, industrial applications must follow these harsh environment guidelines to be considered. IIoT-enabled machinery is one that is outfitted with sensors and software that can gather and organise data. Strong cloud or edge computing systems are capable of storing and processing data in real-time. Sophisticated analytics solutions enable teams to gather and analyse data from linked systems in order to make decisions regarding internal operations, supply chain optimization, asset management, and so on.

Engineers understand the environment and the application, and decide on the kind of protection needed. Farnell has partnered with many different suppliers catering to a wide range of industrial Harsh Environment products and solutions portfolio, such as ConnectorsSensors & TransducersWires & Cable assembliesLightning Products and Enclosures are available to execute design, development, and projects.

Manufacturing & Engineering Magazine | The Home of Manufacturing Industry News

Share this post

Subscribe to MEM Newsletters!