What is industrial automation?
Automation is the technology used to reduce the workload of humans by using various kinds of machines. Basically, we can define automation as the process of controlling various devices by using electronic hardware.
What is an Industrial grade PC?
An industrial PC is a special type of computer device that is mainly designed to use for various purposes in an industry, with a form factor that falls somewhere between a nettop and a server rack. Industrial PCs have more accuracy and are very high staunch and it is more costly than normal PCs.
Factors to be considered while choosing an industrial PC
We have to seriously consider various factors when selecting an industrial PC such as Ruggedness, shock, vibration, temperature, pressure, distance, humidity, liquid, dust exposure, and various other environmental elements.
Mini Rugged PCs
These computers are very versatile as well as customizable as per our needs. We can add almost unlimited various functions such as USB ports, Express slots, mSATA, RS232 ports, etc. These computers are also less sensitive to shock and vibration and it has IP ratings that prevent various liquids, dust, and temperature. Many Mini rugged PCs are available in military-class standards that give a very high-performing system with less consumption of power and fewer maintenance costs. Due to the less power consumption, these PCs only produce very little heat than traditional systems. We can turn OFF/ON the system remotely.
Applications of Mini rugged PCs are
- Data collection.
- Control card for equipment.
- Can perform various applications need very high-speed like industrial imaging
- Automatic inspection, measurement, verification, flaw detection.
- Direct equipment, for example, robots.
- Need to capture HD images and videos for video surveillance, facial recognition, analyzing real-time data, etc.
- Can use as embedded computers.
Industrial Open Frame Panel PCs
Industrial panel PCs are designed to support various communication protocols and to perform various industrial applications to monitor, analyze and control the process regarding real-time data. Because it has serial ports and twin NICs, it may be used with legacy devices and peripherals, allowing it to integrate new technology while still utilizing older ones.
Open frame panel PCs can perform seamless installation while adding new devices into an existing architecture of a production chain– in control cabinets, machines, kiosks, etc. Their resistive touch screen and robustness provide quick data access and longevity in hostile situations, making them popular for Human-Machine Interfaces. PCs with an open frame panel are commonly used for:
- Original equipment manufacturer machinery, OEM.
- Human-Machine Interface, HMI.
- Machine-Machine Interface, MMI.
- Internet-of-Things control and data aggregation.
- Vision systems.
- Factory automation systems.
- Material handling.
Industrial Tablets, Forklift Tablets
Companies find it wise to deploy industrial tablets at production sites for a variety of applications:
- Human-Machine Interface(HMI)- Notifications from industrial automation systems, status information, and machine vision system notifications provide fast access to crucial data.
- Remote control access to industrial process
- Any program that uses cloud-based platforms and machine-learning monitoring systems to detect anomalies in automation systems and enable industrial equipment predictive maintenance.
- Web servers that host HMIs save massive amounts of data on production statistics, maintenance, and diagnostics. Employees do not need to connect in (as with laptops) and can adjust parameters remotely because industrial tablets pull data from the cloud.
- Automation of a variety of warehouse and inventory processes, such as scanning barcodes on raw materials and completed goods, with an embedded barcode scanner or RFID reader for quality control, item tracking, and security.
- Industrial tablets are commonly used to balance assembly lines.
- Rugged tablets running Linux and Windows are used for embedded systems, factory automation, tracking and tracing, reducing paperwork, and recording signatures.
Most Popular I/O Ports Made For Industrial Computing Applications
As IoT, Big Data, and Machine Learning advancements place increased demands on industries like manufacturing and automation, data and its value continue to spread between IT and OT efficiencies. More and more gadgets are being connected to machines in this era of change, dubbed “industry 4.0,” putting immense demand on computing systems to be versatile in their specific duties and workload performance. Industrial computers, for example, are now used as platforms for local or edge workload aggregation and convergence. In other words, industrial computing systems must now be able to handle a wide range of data inputs that send critical data for real-time decision-making. As a result, industrial computers are compatible with a wide range of legacy and modern input and output (I/O) ports.
Various inputs and outputs ports are:
- Serial Ports
- Video Ports
- USB Ports
- Local Area Network (LAN) Ports
Serial ports are one of the most common ports in both industrial computers and traditional computers. Serial ports are designed to make communication with the legacy devices in the industry. It doesn’t allow faster communication however it is considered the most reliable protocol. Depending upon the applications and devices connected, serial ports have three different function modes such as RS-232/422/485.
Video ports are very essential to display the output from the various processes in industries. The most common video ports are VGA, DVI, HDMI, and DP.
VGA ports are used to connect with the legacy devices due to VGA uses analog signals instead of digital signals.
DVI, HDMI, and DP are the most modern video ports and it provides very high resolution as well as refresh rates but it can’t connect with the legacy devices
DIO/GPIO stands for digital I/O and general-purpose I/O. These are types of an interface that are designed to perform various electrical devices and sensors that don’t have a common interface. DIO/GPIO uses digital signals usually represented as either ON or OFF. Due to this feature, we can use the industries where many ON/OFF signals need to be transmitted. This can also be used in alarm sensors.
USB ports USB ports are considered as a standard port for a wide variety of devices that required more bandwidth increases, which is just not supported by the serial port. We can connect multiple USB devices without overconsuming power and we can also keep devices in idle when not in use.
Local Area Network (LAN) ports
LAN ports are designed to make a wired connection with the speed up to GbE per port. LAN ports are mainly used to connect computers with modems, switches, routers to make both uplinks and downlinks to transfer data.
Why industrial PC is required?
We know that industrial PCs are specially designed to use for industrial process. We can’t use normal PCs in industrial areas due to the condition of plants. Usually, PCs in almost all industries are working under various circumstances like humidity, temperature, dust particles, liquids, etc.
The computer’s worst enemies are vibration, shock, temperature, dust, etc. Normal PCs are not designed to work on the above-mentioned conditions. Industrial PCs are capable of working 24/7, in hot, vibration conditions.
Process control and/or data acquisition are the primary functions of industrial PCs. Industrial PCs may use to control other computers in the plants in a distributed processing environment.
What are the specifications of an industrial PC?
The specification of industrial PCs is a very highly sensitive display and some models come with a touch screen.
In industrial environments, vibration, dust, high heat and cold, air pressure, and humidity create unstable circumstances so the industrial PCs have various IP ratings to protect from the above-mentioned issues.
Most of the industrial PCs come along with the graphic card for getting a high performance. Industrial PC runs on the Windows latest versions and some models are running based on various Linux OS.
Usually, industrial Pcs have two RAM slots for expanding RAM capacity and improving the performance of the system.
What is the difference between normal PC and Industrial PC?
|Parameters||Consumer PC||Industrial PC|
|Conditions||Normal office usage||Ideal for harsh conditions|
|Temperature`||Always try keep below 35 °C||Can work up to 45 °C|
|Lifespan||2-3 years||8-15 years|
|PCI Ports||Rare sight nowadays||Very common in industrial PCs|
|Cost||Less Expensive||Very costly|
|Maintenance||Different sets of spares required||Less maintenance due to High-quality material|
How does an industrial PC work?
An industrial PC is designed to work in temperatures of 45 degrees Celsius or higher. It also has filters that allow it to operate in the presence of dirt and dust without becoming clogged. Furthermore, thanks to its built-in shock absorbers, it is designed to withstand sudden motions and vibrations.
List of best industrial PCs available in market
|AAEON||BOXER 6643, 6642, 6750, 6710, OMNI-2155-CML|
|Beckhoff Automation||CP37xx-1600,CP6600, CP6606|
Industrial PC Vs PLC
|Operation||PLC making the decision regarding the data from the field devices||Can perform same tasks and the OS in the PC allow them to run programs and various applications|
|Programming||Need experts to do PLC programming||Anyone who is familiar in PC OS can perform task|
|Ruggedness||No need for extra equipments to increase ruggedness||PC may require considerable investment in shielding|
|Cost||Cost is high||Cheap in rate|
Industrial PC Vs Server
|Servers are designed to run network applications||Industrial PCs are designed to control industrial process|
|May have more than one CPU||It has only one CPU|
|Used to store or control all the data in an industry||Usually, it is used to control just one or two processes.|
Industrial PC Vs Embedded PC
Embedded computer systems are known by a variety of names (Box PC, Gateway, Controller, Industrial PC, and so on), but they are essentially any specialized computer system that is integrated into a larger device, intelligent system, or installation. From the tiny ARM-based processors that power today’s smartphones to all-in-one solutions that run massive earthmovers and military equipment, they come in a limitless number of shapes and sizes.
|Industrial PC||Embedded PC|
|Designed to use control industrial systems||Designed with the chores that need to be completed in the most effective manner in mind.|
|It has a very useful user interface (UI)||It has only minimal or no UI|
|Not task-specific (We can configure based on the industry)||It is task specific|
|Comparatively bigger than the embedded system and costly||Small size and less price|