Do You Need to Modernize Your Hardware?

By: Ben Baldwin

November 9, 2020

Do You Need to Modernize Your Hardware?

To break into industry 4.0 and improve upon your company’s operations, taking a look at your current hardware capabilities and whether or not they meet your specific needs is extremely important. Having the right hardware for your business will strengthen process efficiency, data collection, and data accessibility. Without a modern or compatible computer infrastructure, your competitive edge will slip away.

When you invest in digital work instruction software, you have the amazing ability to create dynamic visual instructions, gather data, and truly connect to your business. You’ve already taken the first step towards Industry 4.0 standards. The next logical step is to take a look at the hardware platforms that connect your employees to your business: the computers.

With manufacturing technologies ranging from small portable computers and tablets to movable workstations and hardware enclosures, let us give you some things to consider when searching for the hardware upgrades best suited to your needs.

What Are The Benefits of Upgrading Your Computer Infrastructure?

Work Instructions on Industrial Computer

Implementing hardware upgrades can be a game-changer for manufacturing facilities looking to shift towards a paperless process, increase their data collection, and provide greater accessibility for their employees. With the right tools and solutions, you can realize the potential of accessing your operations software in environments that would have been previously inaccessible.

Let's say you have the fastest sports car in town. And while your town has a few nice flat roads, the majority of the roads are inaccessible to your sports car. Wouldn’t you want to be able to use your sports car anywhere in town? Having superior software without the proper accessible hardware is like having a sports car in a town without any accessible roads.

The ability to station your work instructions and data collection tools anywhere in your manufacturing process is priceless.

As VKS is a browser-based solution, your Work Instruction Guidebooks can be opened using any computer. That makes your decision easier when selecting new technological infrastructure. You can focus on the price and the specifications that suit you and your facility.

4 Things to Consider When Upgrading Your Hardware

Finding the right hardware can be difficult. There are so many options available to manufacturers, from the compact and inexpensive Raspberry Pi, military grade Samsung Rugged Tablets, and All-In-One Touch Screen computers from Symcod. But you can quickly sift through and pinpoint your specific needs by answering these next four questions:

1. What type of work is being performed?

This is the first question you’ll need to answer when looking at implementing new technology because it will structure your next few choices. On the shop floor, there are many positions and duties that employees fulfil but at first, we can place everyone in two categories: those who are stationary and those who are mobile.

  • Stationary employees, such as operators, do not need portable computers if they are located in one place and remain there throughout the day. They would also benefit from larger monitors when a few feet back from their work instructions.
  • Mobile employees, on the other hand, such as supervisors and engineers, may greatly benefit from a tablet with its portability and versatility. This can be a great tool for audits, process revisions, and quality checks.

2. In what type of environment will the work be performed?

To protect your investment and ensure that your hardware is functional throughout the day, you’ll need to consider the obstacles of your environment.

  • If the computer is situated in areas with extreme temperatures, how will the intended device function? If applicable, is the battery equipped to deal with these extreme temperatures? Looking for special hardware with cold or hot ratings is beneficial.
  • Will the employees need to wear gloves while interacting with their tablets or computers? This can affect the type of touch screens you buy, the need for stylus pens, or additional tools that allow hands-free interactions.
  • How durable or water-resistant does the computer or tablet need to be? Reviewing the potential dangers to your hardware is crucial when deciding if rugged hardware or added protective cases are worth the investment.
  • Is there an abundance of fumes or dust particles from welding or grinding that will affect the hardware components? Ensuring your employees have functional equipment is paramount.

3. Is WiFi always available?

You need your employees to be connected at all times while working. Otherwise, they won't be able to fully utilize the hardware or software and its associated real-time benefits.

  • If an employee is sometimes working in areas without WiFi, it would be useful to consider the cellular data capabilities of your intended device.

4. Will the employees need accessories for their computer station?

Understanding the additional required tools and their compatibility with other devices is a major factor.

  • If the employee needs to type in large amounts of data, possessing a compatible keyboard will speed up the process.
  • If needing to scan items and capture torque, weight, voltage, or any other assembly data, a computer or tablet with accessible USB ports or Bluetooth capabilities will be invaluable.

Answering these questions will help you make the right decisions when implementing new hardware upgrades into your manufacturing facility. The right hardware is waiting for you.

Though there is no such thing as the best computer for every job, there is the perfect computer for YOUR job.

3 Benefits of Using Tablets for Digital Work Instructions

Industrial Tablet

We have to take the time to specifically talk about tablets. Though not suited for everything, they do hold key benefits in manufacturing. When searching for hardware upgrades, tablets are a great option for progressing to a paperless workflow. Any checklists or audits become easily regulated and shared. This makes it easier for your employees to access the tools and documents they need as well as improving how you and your team track the progress of any projects.

Remember: The easier it is for your employees to access their tools, the more likely they are to use them.

Portability

When it comes to the best options for portability, it's hard to beat a tablet. Tablets are easily carried into most environments, meaning the company’s knowledge and software can follow the employee wherever they go. No longer is there a need to run back and forth between the office or stations to verify or print paperwork.

Using a tablet with visual work instructions makes it easy for operators that need to move around their projects. The screen can always be with the operator as they need it to be.

Built-In Camera

With a built-in camera, taking pertinent photos of a process is a breeze. Does an engineer need to quickly make a new adjustment to a guidebook? Take a picture and update it then and there, all from the same device. No need to transfer files to another computer.

The camera can also double as a QR code scanner, creating even greater versatility in inventory checks, shipment preparations, and work order completions. Some industrial tablets on the market have integrated barcode and RFID scanners as well.

Intuitive Control

Touch screens provide intuitive control when navigating throughout work instructions. Operators can swipe to the next instruction step while pinching and zooming on details they wish to see clearer.

VKS Can Help Make Your Hardware Upgrades More Durable and Versatile

If looking for more versatility and protection for your current or new computer hardware, VKS has some solutions below to help operators stay connected with their work while protecting your hardware upgrades.

VKS All-In-One Desktop Enclosure

VKS all in one desktop enclosure

In some harsh environments, such as areas devoted to welding and grinding, dust particles can damage your computer’s hardware, leaving your employees disconnected from the instructions and the business. To use digital work instructions, you need reliable computing amidst the dust and dirt of your production environment.

We can solve this problem for you. The VKS All-In-One Desktop Enclosure uses positive air pressure to keep particles out of your computer’s hardware. Meanwhile, it's hard shell provides added protection from bumps, scrapes, or anything that might touch or damage your computer. The enclosure lets you use your new computer hardware in environments that are inhospitable to sensitive devices.

VKS Desktop Stand

VKS desktop stand

When implementing new technological infrastructures into your business, one of the most important factors to consider is the location of the computers and the location of the employees.

What if you’re manufacturing or repairing something large? Work instructions need to be visible and accessible but there aren’t always convenient walls to which you could attach monitors or desks on which you could stand computers or tablets.

The VKS Desktop Stand is a great solution to these problems. Whether you desire to use it with a tablet, laptop, or a full desktop computer, your work instructions can move around with the operator. As the VKS Desktop Stand is compatible with the All-In-One Desktop Enclosure, you can review instructions on large scale projects in harsh environments with ease. The VKS Desktop Stand is equipped with wheels to provide mobility giving you the freedom to change your terminal’s location and position as needed.

VKS Is Here To Help

With visual work instructions, standardizing your process is a breeze. And with the right accessible hardware upgrades, employees will feel comfortable depending on the tools you provide.

Protecting your investment and making it as powerful as can be is an incredible opportunity. If you are looking for more solutions and helpful advice on computer hardware that meets your manufacturing needs, do not hesitate to book a demo at VKS.

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