Overheating In Electronics

Lewys Gammond Phillips

Lewys Gammond Phillips

Marketing Officer, Kontroltek Ltd

If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen… but industrial electronics can’t. There’s just no escaping it: The higher the operating temperature of an embedded computing system, the shorter time it can operate reliably without failures.

Google’s Got It Right:

Google is one of the best examples of a sophisticated server cooling system. This system allows the search engine giant to pack tens of thousands of servers into racks.The exhaust fans on the rear of the servers direct severe exhaust heat into the enclosed area. Chilled-water cooling coils (seen at the top of the enclosure) cool the air as it ascends. The silver piping visible on the left-hand side of the photo, carries water to and from cooling towers.

(For more info on Google’s server cooling system, click here.)

Much like Google, manufacturing environments are notorious for being high temperature environments. It’s imperative that maintenance professionals look for ways to reduce in and around the areas within their facilities prone to higher temps and protect their equipment.

Thermal Management Isn’t My Priority…

Well, quite frankly – it should be. Research conducted by Oneserve, an Exeter-based field service management company, found that the impact of machine downtime is costing Britain’s manufacturers in excess of £180bn every year. The research also found that 53 per cent of machinery downtime is caused by hidden internal faults.

Chris Proctor, CEO of Oneserve said: “One of the most common technical faults is the overheating of particular parts, especially where there is metal on metal, as these can short electrical circuits and cause the machines to stop running.”

This survey of over 350 professional electronics engineers also revealed that 40% of engineers still consider thermal considerations to be a low priority in their current design process. In fact, over a third of engineers agreed that thermal challenges are “irritations they could do without”. This attitude is surprising given the impact that overheating can have in a manufacturing environment.

So what can be done to stop overheating being a cause for burning a hole (literally and figuratively) in engineers’ pockets?

Tips For Keeping Your Electronics Cool

Embrace The Cold

Proper cooling techniques are imperative for the longevity of electronic and motor parts. It can make motor windings, semiconductors, capacitors, resistors, transformers, and circuit coards, reach or extend their total life expectancy. Keep it cool and you’ll extend the life of your electronic equipment, while also avoiding downtime.

Ventilation Is Key

Often, drives and other devices are placed in enclosed cabinets will trap heat and increase the temperature by not being able to circulate and transfer heat to cool the device. Like a tumble dryer, if the vent is plugged, there is no where it can exhaust. The hot, moist air stays inside and the clothes will never dry. Special caution should be given to items that are placed in attics, roof areas or next to heating devices. These devices should have air conditioning to keep them operating at normal temperatures.

KEEP IT CLEAN! cleaning a PCB

Contamination traps heat, corrodes connections, shorts out components and wreaks havoc in any electro-mechanical system. Fans are gunked up and bearings prematurely fail. All devices work better when clean. Placing them in properly ventilated enclosed cabinets will prevent them from being damaged and extend their hours of operation.

Kontroltek: Delivering Sound Repair Solutions

Sometimes, you can take all of these measures and you’ll still find your electronics causing you downtime problems. PLCs, CPUs and HMIs, will inevitably overheat – which, in turn can burn out the motherboard. This will cause you major issues, and cost, as you’ll lose the machine program. Before this happens, back up your programmes with Kontroltek – if you then find yourself in this position, you have a copy of your software on hand.

To find out how we can help you reduce your production time, get in touch with one of our representatives today.

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