Enabling Automation with Rugged Industrial Keyboards

Richard B.Industrial Keyboard

Whether you’re a large-scale food producer, work with fast-moving consumer goods, or you’re a petroleum manufacturer, automation is changing your industry. Not only is automation a critical driver of business success across industry channels, but it’s also become synonymous with increased throughput and streamlined operations.

Big data, IoT, and all of the other “digital disruptors” have made automation a necessity, especially in hyper-competitive industries. Factory automation has long-held the lion’s share of automation spending. But, with new technologiesinjecting themselvesinto nearly every business channel, process automation, IoT, and AI have been growing steadily in the industrial space over the last few years.

But, understanding the necessity for automation is one thing, using the right technology to enable automation is another. As industries continue to produce more goods at lower costs, acquiring technology like industrial computers peripherals is a critical enabler for automation and increased digital acumen. Peripherals like industrial keyboards provide vital capabilities to industrial PCs, which can improve data accuracy and reduce PC keyboard issues.

Why Use Industrial Ruggedised Keyboards?

Standard commercial keyboards and rugged keyboards aren’t built to withstand industrial environments. Industrial ruggedised keyboards have the necessary build, components, and specialised protection elements to resist shock, extreme temperatures, moisture, dirt and debris, and vibration. This makes them ideal for a plethora of industry settings and the perfect partner for industrial PCs.

Industrial ruggedised keyboards may have the following features.

  • Wear and Chemical Resistant overlay: This helps protect your keyboard for the wear-and-tear of industrial settings as well as provides extra protection against chemicals and liquids.
  • Steel construction: Many industrial ruggedised keyboards are made of stainless steel to help prevent scratches, scrapes, and weathering.
  • IP65/67 protection rating: Many industrial settings are exposed to moisture — whether that’s due to production or cleaning workflows. IP65/67 ratings ensure that the keyboard can withstand a specific level of water for an extended period of time. Both IP65 and IP67 can withstand the moisture levels of almost any industrial environment.
  • Sealed mechanical keys: Having spaces between mechanical keys can result in liquids and chemicals spilling into the internal components. Industrial keyboards often have sealed keys ensuring that moisture cannot damage the internals.
  • Mounting options: Since industrial environments often have the need for mounted equipment, many industrial ruggedised keyboards come with alternative mounting options.
  • Integrated Pointing Device Options: From trackerballs to touchpads, industrial ruggedised keyboards often have multiple ways for workers to quickly and accurately move between programs and options.

Benefits of Industrial Ruggedised Keyboards for Automation

According to Gartner, predictable physical activities are the biggest driver of automation. This makes industrial settings the perfect place to introduce cost-cutting measures like digital automation. Manufactured industrial goods make up over half of U.S. exports, which drives 11.6% of U.S. economic output. But, it’s not just the exports, every $1 spent on domestic industrial goods adds $1.86 to the economy.

Industrial work is important. And finding ways to cut costs, improve efficiencies, and automate physical activities is critical in the current economy. Not only is pressure from China and India threatening U.S. industrial workers on a cost front, but the entire industrial space is undergoing a worker shortage. According to Deloitte, industrial manufacturers have an exceedingly difficult time finding qualified, willing applicants for their business.

This makes automation more than another industry buzzword; it’s quickly becoming the single most valuable asset to industrial manufacturers. But, automation can’t succeed without the right equipment.

You certainly need an industrial PC to power your automated processes, but you also need peripherals for that PC that can withstand harsh industrial environments. Industrial ruggedised keyboards are explicitly built to suit automated industrial needs.

Keyboards are used to input commands into your PC. So, you’ll use your keyboard to help you navigate systems, type, and even maintain control over your operations should your touchscreen or trackpad fail.

Commercial-grade keyboards can certainly perform all of these functions, but they will quickly deteriorate when introduced to industrial environments. Heat, cold, shock, dirt, debris, chemicals, water, and other liquids will all compromise commercial-grade keyboards — and they will quickly cease to function or break.

Let’s go over 5 benefits that industrial ruggedised keyboards offer.

1) Accurate Data Input

Data fuels industrial businesses. 83% of executive decision makers pursue big data to give them a competitive advantage, and 79% of them agree that companies that do not utilise big data will be outpaced by their competitors.

Industrial brands need data to function, and data is the fuel for all of their automated practices. Industrial ruggedised keyboards ensure that all of the data being entered into your system is accurate. Many industrial keyboards, like the96 Key, provide mechanical triggers to ensure that all data can be rapidly recorded and repetitive data entry doesn’t wear down keys and introduce lag or user mistakes. The 96 key has >1 million operation switch operations, which means that it will last longer and work better.

2) Easy to Clean

Industrial ruggedised keyboards like the 128 Key Keyboard have an IP67 sealed enclosure, which means that it can withstand moisture and chemicals. Most industries have routine cleaning workflows that involve cleaning chemicals or water. Interrupting those workflows be introducing equipment that requires “special care” can provoke mistakes and cost you time and money.

3) Temperate Resistance

Many industrial settings operate in extreme temperatures (hot and cold.) Even smaller industrial ruggedised keyboards like the 42 Key have stainless steel construction, which ensures that they aren’t impacted by most extreme temperatures.

4) Alternative Mounting

Industrial workstations are often set up in unique, industry-specific manners. Industrial ruggedised keyboards give you the mounting capabilities to work within the confines of your industrial setting.

5) Optional Integrated Pointing Devices

Some industrial ruggedised keyboards, like the96 Key with Touchpadprovide integrated pointing devices to assist workers in selecting options. This can help reduce peripheral needs while supplying workers with a simpler way to select critical PC options.

Looking for an Industrial Ruggedised Keyboard?

With over 30 years of experience in building industrial PCs and peripherals, CKS Global Solutions has the tools, equipment, and expertise to help you create the perfect customised ruggedised industrial keyboard solution for your specific needs.

With hundreds of options and incredible durability and accuracy, our keyboards can help you achieve better results and enable automation.
Want to learn more? Contact us.