Upgrading your industrial PC is a significant investment of both time and money. Since Industrial PCs impact so many systems and processes, changes are met with an understandable level of hesitation. Many businesses forgo upgrades for too long, losing out on powerful performance improvements that can save time and reduce costs. So how do you know when it’s time to upgrade your industrial PC? Here are a few things to look for.
7 Signs It’s Time to Upgrade Your Industrial PC
1. Slow Performance
This is an obvious sign that it’s time to upgrade your industrial PC. Sometimes slow-downs happen all at once, and other times this sluggishness happens over a longer period, which makes it more difficult to notice. A sudden decrease in IPC performance may mean that an internal component is damaged. However, for older IPCs, this poses additional challenges (see point 6 below). If IPC performance has slowly decreased, this may be the result of a processor or hard drive that can no longer keep up with the demands of new programs. Either way, this is a clear sign that it’s time to upgrade your industrial PC.
2. Lack of Connection and Communication
Older IPCs lack the computing power to interconnect sensors and equipment across the floor. This means that data and decision-making often become compartmentalized, requiring operators, engineers, and managers to integrate the information themselves, and execute tasks from a number of different interfaces. This not only creates nonessential tasks for staff, but also makes it more difficult to accurately use the information that you’ve invested time and money into gathering. Modern IPCs support wireless technology and programming necessary to integrate these devices. The data collected can be used simultaneously and operators can manage the plant from a single interface, saving hours of time and eliminating unnecessary calculations.
3. Unsupported Operating System
If your OS is no longer supported and being actively upgraded and patched, your business is exposed to cybersecurity vulnerabilities as well as performance issues. In addition, older operating systems pose compatibility programs with many new programs, which creates obstacles for upgrades to any other part of your system. Windows 10 is the standard for most businesses. If you’re still working with Windows 7 and you’re counting on technology churn to skip to the next iteration beyond Windows 10, remember that all support and updates of Windows 7 will stop in 2020, while updates to Windows 10 will continue for the foreseeable future.
4. Other Parts of Your System Have Been Upgraded
If you’ve already made upgrades to other programs or systems, but not your IPC, it’s likely that your dated technology is dragging down your other upgrades. The modern hardware and software supporting new machines and programs can’t run properly if it hits a bottleneck in a slower system. An outdated processor or insufficient RAM will ultimately slow the workflow, or insufficient storage capacity can cause data corruption or loss.
5. Opportunity Costs Have Become Significant
Your IPC does not have to be slow or broken to be costing you money. Many IPC upgrades can support better process coordination and data integration, which can mean energy savings, increased production, reduced waste, reduced downtime, lower maintenance costs, and other advantages across the production line. If your IPC cannot use data to make better decisions or improve process timing, but your competitors’ can, you’re ultimately losing out.
6. Replacement Parts Have Become Difficult to Find
If your IPC hardware is no longer being manufactured, spare parts will be increasingly difficult to find. If your IPC starts to lag or, worse, damages or malfunctions cause it to stop working completely, you risk days of downtime and the high costs of expediting a hard-to-find replacement. If you are searching for outdated components, it’s a clear sign to upgrade your IPC.
7. The Hard Drive is OutdatedImprovements to solid state drive (SSD) technology have made this type of storage an efficient and durable option for IPCs. SSDs provide several notable advantages over hard disk drives (HDDs), especially in harsh environments. Faster data reading and writing speeds improve the performance of a SSD, while the lack of moving parts makes it more durable and requires less maintenance. If you are repeatedly replacing parts or dealing with mechanical problems in your existing HDD IPC, an upgrade to an SSD can make a significant difference.
If you’ve noticed one or more of these signs to upgrade your IPC, now is the time to make the transition. You might make this evolution slowly, but these problems will persist as long as some dated technology remains. If you upgrade your technology all at once, training, installation and other costs can be combined, and you can also benefit from pricing bundles. Consider your options carefully, and work with reputable distributors to choose the right IPC for your needs.