What Are Rugged Industrial Computers?

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Rugged computers are specially designed to perform mission-critical functions and withstand harsh conditions that standard, consumer-grade versions cannot. Typically lightweight, they give you the ability to transport them and work, monitor operations, and send communications in the field.

These robust computers share the same general components as traditional computers, such as processors, GPU, storage, and memory. However, rugged computers also feature reinforced casings, sealed metal enclosures, long battery life, cooling and heatsink features, and more to promote better durability and reliable performance.

Benefits of Rugged Computers

Using rugged PCs offers an array of benefits to an operation, including:

Optimized design. The way in which developers and manufacturers design rugged computers gives them a stronger framework than your standard laptop or desktop. They undergo testing to ensure that they can maintain performance through abrasion, shock, vibration, fluctuating temperatures and pressures, moisture, dust, corrosive environments, and other such challenges.

Durability and reliability. Rugged computers can withstand harsh locales ranging from the manufacturing floor to the battlefield without shutting down or incurring damage. Even with rough use, they provide lasting performance in mission-critical projects with less downtime and fewer repair needs or associated costs.

Versatility. These computers come in different forms, including laptops, tablets, and rack-mounted systems. Their light weight allows for flexible use and movement in varied operations. Their support features, such as built-in GPS and wireless connection, pair portability and convenience with high functionality.

Clear display. High-bright screens for rugged computers have an anti-reflective coating for sunlight readability that prevents glare during the day and backlighting for nighttime or poorly lit locations. This enables them to provide a clear display and good picture quality even in suboptimal conditions.

Cost-effectiveness. Their durability, long lifespan, repairability, reliability, and ability to be upgraded guarantee a lower total cost of ownership and a higher return on investment in the long run.

Industrial Applications of Rugged Computers

Rugged computers are beneficial to diverse industrial sectors.

Pharmaceutical Processing

Pharmaceutical processing systems utilize rugged computing in the form of industrial human interface systems (HMIs). These systems allow operators to monitor and manage automated machinery and processes on- or off-site, giving them maximum flexibility and control. To function effectively in pharmaceutical environments, these rugged systems feature glove-friendly, high-definition touch screens, antibacterial membrane keyboards, and sealed enclosures to safeguard against everything from dirt, dust, and liquids to bacteria. HMIs can also handle cleaning chemicals without degrading them.

Oil and Gas

The oil and natural gas exploration sector often involves harsh environments that are ideal for rugged computers and the dependability they offer. They can withstand vibration and impact, extreme or fluctuating temperatures, chemical exposure, UV rays, salt water, and more, all while maintaining full functionality. Rugged computers can assist in processes ranging from initial oil and petroleum extraction to material processing and distribution in downstream, midstream, and upstream applications.


As they’re well-suited to industrial environments, ruggedized computers help streamline a variety of manufacturing processes successfully. They allow you to program and monitor automated operations and robotic work cells by creating a direct connection between a machine and your PC. They also enable labor and plant management by facilitating time tracking and scheduling, assigning duties, generating digital reports, and carrying out safety or compliance checks.


For companies dealing with vehicle manufacturing and assembly, rugged computers can assist with vehicle testing, preparing Electronic Vehicle Health Check (EVHC) reports, and conducting computer-based diagnostics. You can also use them for smart AI planning to digitize tasks for greater speed and accuracy compared to manual, paper-based planning systems. For example, within cars themselves, police use rugged computers in their patrol cars for in-the-field work.


Rugged computers are ideal for managing construction site activities because they’re designed to withstand shocks, vibration, dust, and debris, all of which are common in construction environments. You can use them for site inspections, surveys, on-site calculations, and project management without the risk of damage and information loss.


Ruggedized computers are also crucial in modern military operations. The military uses them to monitor and manage base stations, coordinate field deployments, navigate for the Coast Guard, and facilitate flight line maintenance, among other operations. On the battlefield, rugged military computers help soldiers access critical information, communicate with commanders, and execute complex tasks while on the move. Other beneficial features for military applications include MIL-SPEC-rated rugged industrial computers and EMI protection.

Other common industries in which rugged computers excel include:

Original equipment manufacturing
Wind and solar energy farming