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.
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.
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.