When approaching the IT needs of your wood products manufacturing area, you may think that it is just the same as any other manufacturing environment. While in some applications this is true, it is not for all. As you know, wood products manufacturing areas are very dry, dusty, and hot. These are all elements that are never optimal for standard IT equipment. Likely, your computers, servers, and printers are in the office, off the floor, and protected from much of this harsh environment; but your network elements are completely exposed to all the elements on the manufacturing floor. Here are some key things to look at when building your network in your wood products manufacturing area:
Cooling is so important. When possible, your network gear, switches, routers, and access points need to be cooled. Air-conditioning is preferred. If this is not an option, an adverse-conditions-network cabinet will do the job. These are air cooled and will allow for proper air flow through the cabinet, to allow your equipment to stay cool. You also need to monitor the temperature of your equipment in the cabinet. This can be done on most equipment and reported to a central place via email or text if heat is too high.
Since the air can be so full of wood dust, it is imperative to filter all the air flow to your equipment on the floor, so it is not getting microscopic dust into the inner parts. All commercial network devices have some built-in filtering. However, this is not enough in a wood products manufacturing environment. A network cabinet that filters the air with a filter much like a furnace filter can protect the network gear.
3. Clean power
While this is not unique to only wood product manufacturing, it is very important to any manufacturing environment. Network equipment, computers, servers, and printers all need clean power. Unclean power can happen from unknown issues in the wiring. Computer equipment is more sensitive to power issues than other devices. Power surges or brown outs or lower-than-optimal power will hurt your computer equipment. Another factor is that power noise on the electrical circuit can affect the life and functionality of the computer equipment. A noise-suppressing-battery-backup-surge protector in the network cabinet should be installed to lower the chance of power issues. It is always recommended that a unique circuit for your network cabinet be installed. The amperage of the circuit will depend on your needs. This should be consulted with an IT professional and a licensed electrician.
In addition to power is grounding. We see so many nice installs with well-mapped network cabinets; however, there is no ground. No matter how good the surge protectors are, if there is a large power surge, a ground may save your equipment in the event of major power surges.
We know how critical it is to have your machines on the floor connected to the network and often the internet. In many circumstances, you should have a failover continuity plan. We often see a consumer device operating the whole network and it fails during a busy day. If you do not have a backup device put in place, your process may stop. In many cases, a second set of devices in place can automatically take over if the primary device fails. Further, using equipment with a high service level agreement from the manufacturer, will mean a new device will be shipped overnight with no question.
We are an IT company in the heart of the wood products manufacturing capital of the world, and we are available to help get these systems up and running for those companies who need it. We understand how critical it is to keep your network running every day so there is no delay in your process.