Tag Archives: industrial PCs

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Why Industrial Computers Are Perfect for Challenging Environments

Industrial computers are best equipped to work under the challenging working environments because they are built from the ground up to withstand the conditions that are not electronics-friendly. We can define such challenging working environments as anything that surpasses the norms of your typical controlled workspace such found in the office, school, library, retail store, or even hospital.

Temperature

The challenging working environments in the industrial sector vary greatly and can be characterized by higher or lower temperatures than that of an indoor installation. Notably, when we speak about temperatures and the ability of the industrial computers to withstand the higher and the lower temperature margins, we should also inquire into the possibility of the temperature fluctuations. For example, when your industrial computer or rugged tablet is exposed to colder temperatures outside in the field and significantly warmer temperatures in the engineer’s vehicle or tent. Assuming your technical workers carry a rugged tablet from the tent and into the cold, the temperature fluctuation is abrupt and causes condensation. How will your iPad or Android tablet behave if you subject it to such frequent temperature fluctuations? Rugged tablets are built with such temperature fluctuations in mind, so the condensation or cold/heat do not affect the internal electronics. Industrial computers, too, are enclosed in a rugged casing that withstands extreme temperatures and protects the discreet parts from their destructive effects.

Humidity

Temperature is not the only factor contributing to the ruggedness of the workspace. Humidity and exposure to liquid spills, splashes, liquid cleaning, or the need to function in the outdoor settings where it can rain is also a part of the normal operational needs in the industrial sector. The industrial computers, therefore, are liquid proof and have a sturdy casing that does not disintegrate if you clean it with a chemical solution.

Dust and Debris

On the contrary, if dust and other harmful particles find their way inside your computer, its lifespan shortens and its performance can be hindered. Industrial computers design takes into account the dusty, greasy and oily environments we can find in the food, beverage, restaurant industries, and other industrial settings, such as oil and gas. The fanless design and IP65 sealed, rugged casing keeps the dust, oil, grease and other harmful debris at bay.

Shock and Vibration

Vibration is, perhaps, one of the main characteristic features of the industrial workspace, be it on the construction site, on the manufacturing floor, or in the warehouse where the forklifts work. Needless to say, the off-the-shelf computers, when used in such environment, tend to fail significantly faster than if you use them in the office. The industrial computer, on the other hand, come with the solid state drive technology, and MIL-STD certified components and a rugged enclosure – all of which protect the electronics from the destructing effects of the excessive vibration and shock exposure.

Altitude, Solar Radiation

Solar radiation and altitude have a significant effect on the electronic products, and industrial computers use the different type of material and a design that stands up to a higher level of expectations than the consumer-grade computers. Unlike the MTBF of the discreet parts of the industrial computers, the MTBF of the discreet parts of the consumer PCS drops significantly when the PCs are exposed to high altitudes in the mountains, underground installations in the mining industry or excessive UV index, especially during the prolonged periods.

Location

For some reason, when most people think about rugged, industrial environments, they tend to focus on the temperature, humidity, and vibration, whereas the location or the distance from the headquarters also translates into a factor of the ruggedness. Be in underground, high in the mountain, far in the field, or out in the desert or the sea, your industrial computers need advanced connectivity and electrical and radiation safety to ensure a) your installations are connected and the data keeps syncing, b) the safety of your installations and workers, c) the safety and longevity of your industrial computer, if it is exposed to power outages and current fluctuations.

Therefore, the industrial computers possess the advanced connectivity options – wireless WAN and LAN capabilities, 3G, 4G, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi. As long as the rugged tablets are concerned, they cannot be locked to a specific wireless carrier, and allow for GSM or CDMA connectivity without being dependent on a specific provider. The electrical and radiation safety is ensured with MIL-STD rated components and a variety of stringent certifications adopted internationally.

Space Constraints

Space constraints also create a challenge the industrial computers need to address. Organizations often need to mount computers in rather small areas with very limited air circulation that can cause the overheating of a regular computer. Industrial computers rely on the fanless design that uses the passive cooling system. This build has several benefits. First, there are less moving parts in the computer, so its lifespan increases. Second, no harmful particles or dust penetrate the enclosure. Third, this configuration consumes significantly less power to cool down and run. Therefore, industrial computers are also energy-efficient, saving companies significant amounts in power consumption.

More so, if you need a robust industrial computer that is smaller than your typical installations. So, industrial computers address the challenge of space constraints with a variety of sizes and customizable configurations. The latter address, aside from small form factor in mini rugged PCs, the compatibility challenges with legacy systems and interfaces.

Customization Is A Must

So, customization is another way industrial computers address the need to adapt to challenging working environments. Industrial computers come with VESA mount options, legacy ports, dual hard drive support, Windows/Linux support, and a wealth of customizable parameters from hard drive to RAM and video card, or storage capacity. The ability of rugged computers and tablets to interface with a growing variety of complex networks of software and equipment is one of their decisive advantages achieved through customization.

Worker Safety

There is more to the industrial environment than the physical parameters. Namely, the worker safety, data integrity, security, and the sustainability. The worker safety is ensured with stringent tests and certifications, such as MIL-STD rated discreet components, IP65 rating, waterproof bezels, 60601-1 electrical and radiation safety, IEEE, or EN 50155 vibration protection, and many other certifications. If a device is not built with these intrinsic safety features from the ground up, it is not apt for use in the challenging working environments.

Data Integrity and Safety

Data integrity is ensured with the protection against current fluctuations, backup batteries and dual hard drive (SSD) technology and advanced connectivity for timely sync. On the other hand, data security features of industrial computers ensure the data is accessible only to authorized personnel and applications. With industrial espionage and ransomware rates increasing in all industries, cyber security issues cannot be ignored. Therefore, advanced authentication options, such as CAC/ Smart Card reader, biometric authentication with a fingerprint scanner, RFID Imprivata SSO coupled with Windows Professional user authentication features, sandboxing, encryption and remote administration offer the high level of security for your corporate data.

Sustainability

Future-proof sustainability is another crucial advantage of robust industrial computers and rugged tablets. As your workflow evolves and you add more devices and interfaces to the system, your industrial computers need to be able to accommodate your growing needs in capacity, performance, and compatibility. The trend toward the implementation of Big Data, IoT, predictive analytics and everything AI means your industrial computers will need more processing power sometime during their realistic, expected life cycle. Will you be able to upgrade them? Will the manufacturer offer spare parts, extra ports or other upgrade options if the need should arise?

To ensure your industrial computers and tablets are capable of sustaining peak performance under the increasingly resource-hungry – or mobile – use, make sure the manufacturer offers ample flexibility for the initial customization and the subsequent upgrades.

At Cybernet, we believe each client is unique, and ensure our industrial computers address the highest bar of our clients’ expectations. Contact us today to get a quote for your customized build.

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Types of Industrial PCs Used in Industrial Automation

The industrial sector is increasingly experiencing the impact of the Industry 4.0 concept. Whether you are looking to optimize the workflow, increase production or savings in maintenance, or explore new automation opportunities, there are many ways industrial automation and the underlying technology can boost your operations.

Industrial automation is the automation of technical processes using computer and information technologies. It gains importance as the underlying technologies evolve rapidly, infiltrating more spheres of our working lives. The term industrial automation is used when devices, machines or technical plants work automatically with the help of electrical, pneumatic, hydraulic or mechanical equipment. The machine equipment replaces the human actions. The system, in this case, consists of three constituents [source]:

  • A technical plant or machines that perform a technical process, such as transformation, manufacturing, conversion or transport of material or energy.
  • A computer or a communication system that processes information from the machines. It acquires, calculates and presents data about the technical events. It also provides the necessary interface for the personnel to control the technical processes.
  • The control personnel that observes, controls and influences the technical processes through the corresponding interfaces and adjusts the process in case any disturbances arise.

The aim is to replace as much as possible human labor intervention and hazardous assembly processes with automated machine labor.

In an industrial environment, a wide number of factors influence the choice of the computer for the industrial automation, such as ruggedness, shock, vibration, temperature, pressure, distance, humidity, exposure to liquid, dust, and many other ambient variables.

Mini Rugged PCs

These are versatile, customizable industrial computers that allow adding almost unlimited functionality via full-size and mini PCI Express slots, USB ports, mSATA, RS232 ports. Ruggedness ensures shock and vibration protection, durability, while IP65 sealed waterproof and dustproof build ensures ingress protection from liquids and hard particles, as well as temperature fluctuations. Mini rugged PCs come with military-class high-performance processors that minimize power consumption and maintenance costs. They are compatible with virtually any existing peripherals, and any device in an industrial setting. The multiple PCI Express slots enable it to be configured for nearly any industrial automation functionality. Since many builds are fanless, their cooling system is passive, and thus the PC consumes less power and produces significantly less heat than traditional computers.

Of special benefit is the terminal block feature, which allows the PC to be turned off remotely, so locating it in an enclosure and being able to power on and off the computer makes it more flexible as to where you can mount it.

Mini rugged PCs have many applications in industrial automation:

  • Data collection.
  • Control card for equipment.
  • Industrial imaging and other applications requiring high-speed data.
  • Controller in machine vision applications to automate quality control systems.
  • Automatic inspection, measurement, verification, flaw detection.
  • Direct equipment, for example, robots.
  • Video surveillance and analytics requiring HD image capturing, facial recognition, real-time detection, and post analytics.
  • Any application that requires removable drive bays for swappable hard drives for easy data backup.
  • As embedded computers.

Industrial Open Frame Panel PCs

Industrial panel PCs support industrial communication protocols and accommodate the needs of many industrial applications that allow operators to monitor, control and adjust industrial automation processes. Serial ports and dual NICs allow its use with legacy devices and peripherals, so integrating new equipment and still use the older devices creates saving opportunities.

Open frame panel PCs are designed for seamless installation in industrial environments and integration into an existing architecture of a production chain – in control cabinets, machines, kiosks, etc. They are widely used for Human Machine Interface, as its resistive touch screen and ruggedness ensure easy data access and durability under harsh environments. Open frame panel PCs are widely 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 see the wisdom in deploying industrial tablets on the manufacturing floor for a variety of applications:

  • Human-Machine Interface – instant access to critical data with notifications from industrial automation systems, status information, machine vision system notifications.
  • Instant remote control of industrial processes.
  • Any application that relies on the cloud-based platforms and machine-learning monitoring systems that detect anomalies in automation systems and enable predictive maintenance of industrial equipment.
  • HMI-hosting web servers host large volumes of data about production statistics, maintenance and diagnostics. Since industrial tablets pull the data from the cloud, employees do not need to plug in (as with laptops) and can change parameters remotely.
  • Numerous warehouse and inventory tasks automation with embedded barcode reader or RFID reader for quality control, items tracking and security, for example for scanning barcodes on raw materials and finished goods.
  • Forklift tablets are popular due to their ruggedness, easy yet reliable mounting, hot-swap batteries and versatility. Forklift tablets are used in HMI, MMI, barcode scanning and inventory management, processes control and monitoring. They ensure 24/7 uptime and withstand shock, vibration and other harsh conditions.
  • Industrial tablets are widely used for assembly line balancing.
  • Linux and Windows-powered rugged tablets are used for embedded systems, factory automation, tracking and tracing, eliminating paperwork, capturing signatures.

Benefits of Industrial Automation

  • Increase labor productivity – get greater output without losing accuracy.
  • Improve product quality, reduce defect rate, increase conformity and uniformity of the quality.
  • Reduce production cost, labor cost, increase ROI.
  • Reduce routine manual tasks such as variables monitoring.
  • Improve safety by locating the human worker outside the hazard zone, thus preventing accidents and injuries.
  • Advance remote performance monitoring, diagnostics, set point computations, startup and shutdown operations, critical notifications, reporting and remote control of automated processes.

Benefits of Industrial Computers and Rugged Tablets

  • Rugged builds, water- and dustproof, IP65 sealed, shock, vibration and temperature fluctuations resistant.
  • Military-class computation power.
  • Power-efficient.
  • Fanless, passive cooling.
  • Hot-swap drives in panel PCs –  perfect for data backups.
  • Hot-swap batteries in tablets for 24/7 uptime.
  • MIL-STD components, 5+ years lifespan, low fail rates, extended warranties, customized builds.
  • Integrated peripherals – barcode, RFID, CAC, Smart Card, biometric.
  • Ease of mounting with VESA.
  • Ease of integration with legacy ports, support for industrial protocols and Windows or Linux OS.