Over the course of the last decade, the growth of thin client computing in factories and industrial environments has continued to increase as demand has steadily risen. In these facilities, where environmental and safety factors are often the primary influence when deciding on a reliable computing platform, there is a definite need for technology that replaces the PC. As a machine, the PC is not intended to operate in an area filled with vibration, airborne particulates, or hazardous gases. Such concerns and factors explain why there is constant growth in the industrial thin client computing arena. But this beckons the question, if industrial operations continue moving to the thin client because they HAVE TO, then what is the impetus for the front office CHOOSING TO?
With the completion of the ThinManager 6.0 Launch & Training event, we are gearing up for the inevitable landslide of reviews and requests that follow a successful launch. Some people are just hearing about ThinManager for the first time, while long-term end users are making plans for upgrading the ThinManager centralized management platform currently running in their facility. One of the most common questions we are asked is, “Why do I need ThinManager if I already have another centralized management solution running my daily operations?”
• User interface needed underground in dusty, harsh environment.
• Servers installed at ground-level in controlled rooms.
• Thin clients deployed in the mine.
• IT maintains and monitors from the ground-level.
One of the shafts in this mine extends over a mile into the earth into an extremely dusty environment that is particularly hostile to computers. A PC failure meant an hour delay while a replacement is brought down from the surface. The only alternative was to setup a computer shop manned by IT underground. Neither alternative was acceptable.
• Paper oriented dispatch system forced operators to central area for each new order.
• Wireless thin clients mounted on forklifts allowed operators to receive instructions “on the go”.
• Scanners on serial port allowed verification using barcodes on delivered products.
A manufacturer used a primitive paper system for dispatching the forklifts to deliver materials used in the process. After each run the forklifts would need to return to the dispatch office for the next package of paperwork.
Manufacturing in a Dusty Environment
• As many as 3 PCs failing each week requiring IT and maintenance support.
• Up to 6 hours of lost production time for each failure.
• No moving parts mean that ThinManager Ready thin clients are more reliable.
• Failures can be replaced by operator in 15 minutes or less..
Replacement required the services of a computer technician to build and setup the computer, and then the services of a floor electrician to swap the hardware and connect the cables – a process that took several hours at best.
• Critical remote auxiliary gas turbine is rarely used but must be ready immediately when demand arises.
• Turbine area now controlled from main control room.
• Redundancy and Instant Failover make sure it’s always ready to be put into action.
A coal-fired power plant added a gas turbine generator to help meet power demand during peak usage periods.
The gas turbine generator has to be ready at all times but is used infrequently enough that it is unmanned.
• PCs scattered throughout a multi-acre site made routine maintenance a major hassle.
• ThinManager Ready thin clients are managed in the central control room.
• Thin clients no longer need to be visited for maintenance.
A chemical plant had PCs all over a huge refinery, including some located in towers that were up 10 flights of stairs. Maintaining and patching the PCs took hours of walking and climbing.
ThinManager and terminal servers were deployed, allowing the PCs to be replaced with ThinManager Ready thin clients.
• Humid environment causing frequent PC failures.
• Replaced PCs with thin clients
• Thin clients are more reliable and less sensitive to harsh environments than PCs.
• Small form factor allows thin clients to be placed in a protective panel to combat humidity.
Part of the cheese making process requires a saltwater rinse to cure newly made cheese as it passes through an extruder. The mist from the process coats the entire room with a thick condensation. Because of the requirements of the food manufacturing process every surface is hosed down each day with strong cleansers to maintain sterility. Even though bags of silica gel were stacked in the panels to try to protect the PCs from the moisture, the elements were still affecting the PCs as fans circulated air through them for cooling.
• Outmoded paper strip charts were a hassle and did not give instant real-time trending.
• Replaced strip charts with thin clients.
• Collected I/O in SQL server and backed up and archived.
• Archive gave operators the ability to see trending patterns in a more efficient manner.
Emission monitoring charts are critical to pollution control. Before their thin client installation this company captured this data on paper strip charts printed on machines that require oiling, inking, and paper refills.
Distribution & LogisticsPROBLEM:
• Shipping company needed real-time information from 30+ remote sites.
• Deployed ThinManager at each remote site.
• Set up a “war room” with 30 thin clients.
• Connected each thin client to a remote site via WAN.
• Single operator able to t view activity of all remote sites.
A global company with distribution centers around the world was having trouble getting real-time information from the sites to the headquarters.
The company standardized on ThinManager and deployed ThinManager and terminal servers at each site, setting up a “war room” at the headquarters with a thin client for each remote location. These thin clients boot locally and then connect to a remote terminal server via the corporate WAN.