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HMI computers industrial panel PC

The Human Machine Interface and the Role Industrial Computers Face

Human Machine Interface (HMI) is an important concept to be aware of in today’s industrial automation IT world. Technological innovations and advances have pushed automation’s boundaries close to near-perfect operation within industrial warehouses and manufacturing plants. We’re seeing these pushes both on a software and hardware level. Developments in artificial intelligence software are getting more sophisticated, so naturally the hardware must scale with the demands of software. However, there still must be a “starting point” in the pathway from device controller to automation result, and that’s where HMI plays a part. It’s a concept that has evolved over time as an overarching idea that incorporates all functionality of a given production system into a single user interface that can be controlled by simply touching an industrial touch panel PC. It’s the combination of a graphical user interface, an automated production system, and its supporting software that must operate in synergy to be fully productive. These HMIs are becoming more important with the onset of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the desire to fully automate processes. However, not just any device will operate in the manner an HMI needs.

HMI Computers Must Be Compact

Warehouses come in all shapes and sizes, but regardless of the configuration of a warehouse it’s important to find an industrial touch panel PC capable of being installed in an area that’s non-obtrusive to traffic. A retail computer purchased off the shelf and then stored on a warehouse floor will undoubtedly get kicks and light shock damage. Populate an entire warehouse with computer towers, and you’re bound to see a hardware failure within the first three months. Small form factor design with a flexible open frame, wireless technology, and a fully integrated resistive touch screen are necessary components for a proper HMI computer. Why a resistive touch screen if it’s older technology? Capacitive touch screens won’t function with gloves. If you’re in an industrial warehouse, we’d recommend using gloves. We’d also recommend a resistive screen so you won’t need to remove them.

An Industrial Touch Panel PC Must Be Resilient

Temperature changes, sparks, disruptive noises, dirt, soot, chemicals, flying objects, shock damage, and other hazards are a concern for computers in warehouses. Workers can’t operate computers if they’re too close to an entity producing extremely hot or cold temperatures, so HMI computers must be resilient to extreme temperature changes. Thankfully, industrial computers are. Several industrial computer builds are encased in aluminum housings and constructed with military-grade components that have a Mean Time Between Failure of 50 thousand hours, much more than a consumer-grade computer. You’ll need an HMI computer resistant to all hazards to keep longevity. Combining metal enclosures, military-grade components, and resilience in extreme temperatures creates the perfect trifecta for longevity when it comes to HMI computers.

Industrial Computers Need Wireless Tech

A common problem with consumer-grade wireless devices is shoddy WiFi. Home routers drop wireless signals because of attenuation; wireless tech in HMI computers may do the same if the wireless range is too weak over the wireless “path,” or it’s blocked by warehouse walls—a concept known as a Faraday cage. Ensuring your next industrial touch panel PC is equipped with some of the strongest wireless capabilities—an Intel Dual Band Wireless-N 7260 Plus Bluetooth card—will reduce if not remove spotty wireless connections. Plus, if a keyboard and mouse are needed they can connect seamlessly with the HMI computer via Bluetooth. 

Industrial Panel PCs Need Mountability Options

For your next industrial computer deployment, it’s a strong idea to ensure all of the above are addressed, but that doesn’t address where your panel PCs might reside. What’s the solution there? An IT professional can’t leave them dangling from power cables or thrown about a warehouse floor, so a VESA mount is necessary to keep them clutter free. Using a standard 75/100m VESA mounting holes, staff can keep panel PCs out of the way by mounting them to the wall.

Adhering to specific hardware design and a set of features that expand productivity are what businesses should look for when it comes to HMI computers. At Cybernet, we’ve engineered a full line of industrial PCs that meet these standards and excels in the warehouse. Contact us today to find out more details.

industrial grade components

3 Reasons Why Industrial Grade Components Matter in a Manufacturing Setting

A computer’s build is just as important as its function; without sufficient industrial grade components for a particular setting, a computer’s TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) could be higher than expected. That’s an important consideration on customization for a full corporation project—how should a series of computers be built? A Cybernet whitepaper addresses environmental requirements for computer builds, touching on energy consumption, EPEAT ratings, ingress protection, low / high heat environments, and other environmental factors that touch on important considerations, not only how an industrial mini PC functions, but what it needs to function in a range of different industries and environments. Here are a few to discuss in detail.

Industrial Grade Components Can Withstand Extreme Temperatures

One only need to glance at an industrial mini PC to get an idea of how these computers withstand extreme temperatures. These industrial mini PCs are housed in full aluminum heat sinks that absorb and dissipate heat efficiently. Cybernet’s iPC line of computers can operate in temperatures from -25 degrees C up to 70 degrees C and can withstand extreme temperature fluctuations. The operating temperature range is a key difference between industrial grade components and commercial grade components. Industrial grade components typically have much wider operating temperatures than commercial grade, making PCs built from them perfect for factories or outdoor environments where temperature fluctuation is an expected circumstance. These components expand the MTBF (Mean Time Between Failure) expected for the computer and extend the use time for corporations, effectively reducing computer purchase cycles and saving the corporation money on a long-term basis. Some industrial grade computers retain ten times the lifespan of a commercial grade computer! Longevity and focused functionality are what these computers are built for. Cybernet’s industrial mini PCs are rated at a higher MTBF than commercial grade because of use of industrial grade components on our motherboards. All of Cybernet’s computers have a 50k hour MTBF, meaning your industrial mini PC running continuously, on average, will function for between 6 and 7 years before needing service.

Certified Industrial Grade Components for Any Industry

A lot of our industrial mini PCs pass the IEC 60068-2-27 standard, basically meaning shock-proof. Much like the 60601-1 standard for electrical hazard and radiation, this standard states that the “specimen,” or computer in question, is acceptable to withstand shock pulses and vibrations that are meant to reproduce the same real-world effect such as transport mishaps or accidental droppage—not that droppage would happen often anyhow, since the industrial mini PCs are intended for rack and DIN mounting. Plus, dust is a natural component pest. These computers are fanless so they’re not drawing in tiny mites of dust to clog up components, risking their longevity. Clients can even customize these rugged mini computers to be turned on with a terminal block—basically a remote switch so the PC can reside in an enclosure. With a myriad of different legacy and modern ports, these computers can support a lot of devices and peripherals that commercial grade can’t, such as a scanner or receipt printer. Good luck finding a desktop computer with a RS-232 serial port, or an LPT port—those legacy connections often require expensive and rare adapters to function properly, if at all. All these certifications and system protections in place ensure longevity with a MTBF of 50k+ hours of continuous usage. Cybernet also boasts a less than 2 percent failure rate for all computers within their life cycles.

Industrial Grade Components for Hazardous Materials

Panel PCs are exposed to biohazardous materials and contaminants every day; that’s why it’s important they retain their IP ratings. This video demonstrates how resilient our sealed panel PCs are against direct splashes of water! The iPC R3 Fanless Industrial Panel PC protects against liquids hitting it’s front panel with the IP65 rating. Not only is this panel PC sealed, it’s still rated with the IEC60068-2-27 standard, holds up within extreme temperatures with its industrial grade components, and doesn’t have much ingress because of its fanless design. Sealed bezel panel PCs are easy to disinfect and clean—spray on, wipe off, compute.

Cybernet thinks of all possible hazardous environments and undesirable results when it comes to crucial computing devices. The standards we meet and certifications achieved by our industrial machines allow them to be resilient in nearly any environment, around any hazardous materials, and within any reasonable extreme temperature with their industrial grade components. These computers are prepared for shock damage, accidental droppage, and are ready for deployment in any industry, whether it’s medical, industrial, or commercial enterprise. Customize a panel PC right now and streamline your business operations while saving money and time.

The Role of Industrial Computers in Industrial Automation

Industrial automation, as the name suggests, refers to the automation of industrial processes. It may be understood as an umbrella term for automation of design, manufacturing and monitoring processes and techniques, across the industrial spectrum, be it engineering, civic, defense, medical, retail or home automation, to name just a few. Automation has shaped our perception of these industries, and as such defined our relationship with them.

Computers and industrial automation cannot be understood in isolation. Not only have computers directed the trajectory of industrial automation, developments in the latter have in turn influenced advancements and improvements in computing processes. This symbiosis is so deeply inset in the modern world, that no longer are questions about the significance of computers in the industry relevant; this significance is a given. There is however, one development in the field of computing that deserves mention on account of its highly sophisticated synchronization with the requirements of industrial automation. This development is the arrival of the industrial computer.
Industrial computers come in various shapes, sizes, configurations and capacities, depending upon the aspect of industrial processes they are meant to handle. Between compact fanless rugged PCs, panel PCs, and highly scalable models, industrial computers can safely handle automated manufacturing, assembly, monitoring and remote access for any industry.

Manufacturing

Industrial computers are ideal for high volume manufacturing that transcends the limits of human labor. Industrial PCs with state-of-the-art configurations and highly robust physical forms are used in factories to create and assemble the components of complex equipment with perfect precision, and also run automated quality checks at very high speeds. Automobile and equipment manufacturing industries have greatly benefitted from the development of rugged and powerful industrial computers.

Asset Tracking

One of the primary benefits that industrial computers bring into the equation, is their ability to monitor any given processes or components for possible discrepancies. This is not limited to quality control; in fact, industrial computers are immensely popular in the day-to-day functioning of industries such as retail and healthcare. This is because they facilitate the tracking of assets, both on site and remotely, and the efficiency and accuracy with which they do so makes them irreplaceable. Compact panel PCs can easily be integrated into a teller’s counter, or scaled up to make the most of a monitoring center, giving any industry immense flexibility to design their asset tracking processes as per the environment within which they function.

Simulation and Visualization

Scientific advancements today owe a major component of their success to industrial computers. These powerful systems emulate real world situations, making it possible to analyze risks, extrapolate possibilities and test any system within any framework, at little to no risk of adverse impacts. The capability of an industrial computer to simulate and generate realistic visualizations of possible outcomes finds application in a wide range of industries, ranging from geology and mining, to mechanics and engineering design, right up to surgical simulations and real time medical imagery.

Industrial computers came into existence as a response to the growing need for evolved and sophisticated automation, experienced by every industry with a global consumer base. They are, therefore, inseparable both from the modern definitions of these industries, and the future that awaits them.

Why Panel PCs Play an Important Role in an Industrial Environment

Professionals from different industries have come to rely on electronic devices like computers to carry out a variety of tasks. Some industries require the use of specialized devices to meet the demands of a rigorous working environment. The industrial sector, in particular, has benefited from the use of Panel PCs. There are a number of reasons why a Panel PC is the best tool for the industrial environment. Let’s take a look at some of them.

A Rugged Design

One of the distinct differences that an Industrial Panel PC possesses from its traditional counterpart is the way that it is resistant to a number of substances. The production floor is home to a variety of incidents that may compromise electronics that aren’t built to last in a rugged environment. Spills, the presence of dust particles, and the constant circulation of debris can make short work of a computer that isn’t designed to function in a rough environment. Panel PCs are made to thrive in demanding working environments. A Panel PC is resistant to contact with liquid, dust particles, debris, and other substances that could normally compromise electronics. Given the type of activity that occurs in manufacturing plants, Panel PCs are the best tool for industrial professionals to use to carry out their tasks.

Noise Levels, Cleaning Operations, and Reliability

In the past, factories were filled with the buzz of activity and a great deal of noise is to be expected when one enters a production plant. Now, industrial working environments have reduced the amount of noise that is generated in the working environment. The widespread use of Panel PCs contributes to the reduction of noise levels in the factory floor. Panel PCs use a passive cooling system in lieu of fans to keep the temperature levels of the computer at a comfortable level. An added benefit of this fanless design is the elimination of the humming emitted by devices that use fans to cool the entire system down. Since Panel PCs don’t possess a fan, there are less moving parts and dust particles and other debris don’t circulate within the computer system. This reduces the need for regular cleanings and increases the reliability of these devices in critical business operations.

Ergonomics

The factory work floor is known for its crowded and compact space. The presence of bulky equipment results in a cramped working environment that doesn’t leave a lot of room for movement or comfortable mobility. The ergonomics of Panel PCs allows factory workers to move about in a more forgiving environment. Without having to deal with extraneous accessories like a keyboard, a mouse, and other computer peripherals, a streamlined working environment becomes more possible. The ergonomics of a Panel PC contributes to a more organized and productive working environment.

The Cybernet Advantage

Cybernet manufactures Panel PCs that are suited to a variety of environments. A fanless design prevents dust particles from circulating within the computer system and tedious cleaning operations are avoided as well as downtime because of computer malfunction due to dirt / dust. Cybernet’s Panel PCs are designed for rugged and demanding environments. The medical, maritime, industrial, and food industries have all made use of this feature. With endless customization options and a responsive interface, Cybernet’s Panel PCs are the device of choice for professionals who operate in factories, line-automated and dusty or dirty working environments.