Modern manufacturing is as much about reducing manual processes and innovating with digital prototyping and 3D printing as it is using machines to make a physical product. Modern manufacturing operations now require a high degree of computing power. Desktop workstations are ideal for providing a high level of computing power with a visual interface for an engineer or operator.
Evolution of the Workstation
For many years, the engineering workstation was a device category in its own right. Distinct from regular home and business PCs, the workstation was designed and built for high-end computation and graphics applications. They also included:
- 64-bit processors (when PCs were 32-bit)
- Large amounts of enterprise-grade memory
- Discrete graphics capability
- Plenty of local storage
In addition to the high-end hardware, workstations were also characterized by their Unix operating systems in a world where most people used Windows. As PC technology matured, 64-bit CPUs became a standard. Fast forward to today where the modern workstation is functionally equivalent to a high-end desktop, but it is still very relevant to manufacturing industries and technology development.
Workstations for Modern Manufacturing
With workstations now readily available, CIOs must evaluate the use cases for workstations and how they can complement ubiquitous mobile computers. In manufacturing, the business case for workstations remains solid.
The processing power, memory, and storage of workstations are superior to portable computers, and this is important where the immediacy of operational parameters is crucial. Workstations can also be "clustered" to deliver far greater performance than regular PCs.
2. Design and Visualization
The high-end graphics capability and large display options of workstations make them well suited to manufacturing where visual design and monitoring are central to operations.
Manufacturing is moving from traditional physical prototyping to the new era of digital prototyping. Products are designed then "tested" in a simulated environment using the known properties of the materials. Using workstations for digital prototyping can significantly reduce production costs and the time to market.
Workstations have the added advantage of being able to be locked down and located in control rooms away from sensitive manufacturing equipment. Many manufacturing operations restrict mobile devices on site for reasons of fire safety and interference protection.
5. Application Support
Mobile device platforms are catching up, but the platform support and user experience of workstations is a much more complete environment than what portables offer.
The engineering workstation is alive and well in manufacturing and continues to offer a strategic advantage over other computing options. It's up to CIOs and IT managers to put them to best use, including for innovative programs like visualization and prototyping. Current Technologies' partnership with Dell allows for us to quickly bring you high powered workstations allowing you to begin maximizing productivity. If you are not currently using desktops for activities like monitoring lines, prototyping, or design you are missing out on a huge opportunity for growth.