Boats, trucks, trains and planes can be bad for electronic equipment. The constant vibration is the problem. Vibration damages boards and components, which causes premature failure. It’s why mission-critical equipment should be protected in a high-quality transit case engineered to absorb the shaking.
A vibration is an oscillation about a fixed point. It’s a back and forth motion that keeps going, unlike a shock impact that quickly fades. Textbooks show vibration as a sine wave. However, in the real world, it’s far more complicated. Often, there are multiple frequencies, directions and amplitudes of vibration, all superimposed on top of one another.
Vibration comes from many sources such as engines, wheels, rutted roads and air turbulence. Even supposedly fixed or static structures, like oil rigs, transmission towers and bridges, suffer vibration. Should the excitation source (wind for example) hit the resonant frequency of the structure, the motion will be amplified, possibly many times over.
When electronics suffer constant vibration, solder joints fail and screws work loose. Circuit boards can flex and even delaminate. To make things even worse, many electronic components and boards have resonant frequencies in the range of 50 – 200Hz. This often coincides with the kind of continual shaking equipment experience on a long journey. The result is equipment failure.
A good transit case uses damping materials to absorb the vibration. For some applications, foam, cut to hold the equipment securely, is enough. The inertia of the equipment or package holds it in place while the outer case moves. The foam flexes to absorb energy.
Cases for rack mount equipment incorporate an inner chassis located by elastomeric mounts. These soak up the motion of the case exterior. Amazon rack mount cases are a good example. Their eight elastomeric anti-vibration mounts absorb the motion in each axis.
There’s no such thing as vibration-free transportation. Even many supposedly static environments can shake delicate equipment to failure. A quality transit case lessens the harm from vibration. This prevents early failure and ensures high reliability of your equipment.