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Smarter Factories Need Smarter Protection | Industrial Coatings

a man coating a printed circuit board with waterproof coatings

Mallory McGuinness | July 30, 2020

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is here to stay, driving the evolution of more connected, smarter factories. This subset of the Internet of Things integrates industrial machines and systems with Radio Frequency Identification tags (RFID), sensors, and other electronics, which allows for real-time data collection used to inform valuable insights.  

Businesses that successfully employ IIoT realize remarkable value, including reduced costs, the ability to make better decisions, and growth opportunities. According to Accenture, the IIoT could add $14.2 trillion to the world economy by 2030.  

IIoT is an important concept used in Industry 4.0, a term used to refer to the manufacturing sector’s transformation into a connected environment of systems, processes, and IoT-enabled industrial assets that leverage relevant data to attain lean, efficient operations while advancing manufacturing processes.    

 Industrial networking and automation products:  

  • Reduce and Eliminate Unplanned Downtime 
  • Improve Process Visibility  
  • Extend the Lifespan of Factory Machines 
  • Measure and Reduce Water and Energy Waste  
  • Automate the Inventory Replenishment Process 

 Still, while some manufacturers are benefiting from connected devices, others are struggling to achieve this level of efficiency. Ubiquitous connectivity is the critical component of IoT that delivers business value. After all, when devices and assets are reliably connected, critical information is generated 

 While IIoT devices’ software information security is a well-understood threat to achieving this type of undisrupted connectivity, manufacturers should ensure that hardware remains secure as well. Common threats, including liquid exposure, can cause corrosion to run its course, eating away at fragile circuitry until an unexpected failure occurs. But just one splash or spill can cause a short circuit. And it just takes one device failure in an interconnected network to cause an unexpected network shutdown, leading to data loss, which can, in turn, lead to significant loss of revenue, liability, and unplanned downtime.  

According to Accenture, the IIoT could add $14.2 trillion to the world economy by 2030.

Mechanical Seals: An Old-World Solution to a High Tech Problem 

To address the threat of liquid damage, manufacturers have traditionally employed the usage of mechanical seals. Mechanical seals work by creating a barrier and seal between two conjoining surfaces of a device. This pressure-tight seam between components prevents any unwanted gas, humidity, or liquid ingress.  

 Unfortunately, mechanical seals can fail under several circumstances with many other drawbacks:  

  • Dislodges easily with physical shocks and falls 
  • Offers limited reliability. 
  • Varies with corrosion resistance.
  • Presents design limitations.

Conformal Coatings: Providing Better Protection 

 Alternately, conformal coatings are another method being used to protect connected devices. These polymeric films conform to the surface of circuit boards and other circuitry inside of a device, forming a barrier layer that protects electronics from the inside out.  

 The conformal coating solution makes devices more reliable, extending product lifetime and adding robustness. However, conformal coatings must be applied with accuracy and expertise – one small imperfection in the film can create vulnerabilities in the protection.  

HZO Protective Coatings 

 At HZO, we deliver an industry-leading conformal coating – Parylene – that is ideal for protecting industrial devices. This polymeric material has many chemical properties that provide superior electronic protection. Additionally, Parylene offers durable corrosion protection using a consistent method that results in full, uniform coverage to increase reliability.  

 While our Parylene solution is considered the “gold standard” of conformal coating protection, we also offer other protective coatings that achieve a variety of needs, including cost concerns and customized coating protection. Our Spectrum of Protection™ offers a suite of thin-film technology solutions, presenting a wide range of options for different levels of protection, including both hydrophobic and submersion.   

 If you are an industrial device designer or manufacturer who wants to build a more reliable product, we suggest you contact our technical team today to discuss options. You have a specific problem, we’ve got a tailored solution. 

To view our Relentless Reliability video seriesclick here. To watch the webinar recording on ‘5 Things To Know To Achieve Reliability And Resiliency In The Evolving Industrial Landscapeclick here. 

Mallory McGuinness

Mallory is an electronics protection evangelist who writes content for HZO. In her free time she is reading non-fiction, and hanging out with her beta fish, King Awesome.

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