An industrial computer is a computer designed for use in industrial settings. Computer specifications and OS (Operating System) are not different from general OA PCs, but various functions are added considering the harsh factory environment.
1. Environment of industrial sites
A typical environment that requires industrial computers is a production plant. It’s very easy to take an automobile manufacturing plant as an example. The factory that manufactures automobile bodies is exposed to dust and vibrations 24 hours a day. In addition, because the factory runs non-stop in three shifts, computers used for POP (Point of Production) in the field must also operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. In the case of an automated production line, the use of an industrial computer is indispensable because of the huge loss that can occur when production is stopped due to malfunction or failure of the PC.
2. Types of industrial computers
The development of PC technology has diversified the types of industrial computers, and it is difficult to classify them simply. In the early days of industrial computers, it was possible to simply separate them into rack mount type or desktop type, but now a variety of products have been developed for much more diverse application fields. The types of industrial computers mainly used are as follows.
Classification according to mounting type
1) Rack mount type: Mainly used in 19″ rack.
2) Desktop/Wall-Mount Type: Fix it on the wall or place it on a desk for use
Monitor type and separate type
Because the monitor is integrated with the main body, it is a product that allows input using the touch screen when space is limited or when it is difficult for the operator to use the keyboard.
Embedded computer and general industrial computer
An embedded computer is a computer that uses an embedded OS for the purpose of dedicated control. The existing terminal-type controller is equipped with Windows or Linux OS. (The definition of an embedded computer is about to be prepared separately. It’s too broad…)
Basically, the hardware of the embedded computer does not have a cooling fan (Fanless), does not use a hard disk (Diskless), and the memory is molded (onboard) in principle. Use Compact Flash instead of hard disk.
Motherboard: Backplane type (PICMG) and all-in-one (industrial motherboard)
The pronoun of the existing industrial computer was the backplane type that maximized the expandability of the board. However, in recent years, industrial motherboards have been developed, and robust motherboard types that quickly catch up with the performance of OA motherboards are also emerging.
3. Features of Industrial PC – General
To put it simply, industrial PCs have the following characteristics.
1.Standard NEMA/IP design for industrial environment – Reinforcement of reliability and durability
2. ONE BOARD type ALL-IN-ONE design – easy to expand and maintain
3. Use of durable steel frame
4. Integrated structure against shock and vibration
5. Filtering to prevent dust ingress and cooling fan to prevent overheating
6. Stable power supply (industrial power supply)
7. Provide PC-based integrated solution based on industrial environment
8. Customization of various specifications according to customer requests – Enhanced extension and compatibility
4. Features of Industrial PC – Accessories
The IPC case is made of Heavy Duty Steel and has strong durability that does not have any problems with the impact of 10G. This steel allows the PC to operate without any problems even when it comes into contact with dust and various contaminants generated in the factory. Therefore, it is not damaged even when an external impact is applied or it comes into contact with chemicals at the work site, and in addition, it eliminates PC operation errors with its high soundproofing/electromagnetic wave blocking effect.
In general, OA boards use low-cost copper contacts. However, industrial boards are strong against vibrations and shocks by applying gold foil contacts used in semiconductor production, and make sophisticated products more stable. Gold foil contacts are relatively resistant to heat, so even when used for a long time, operating errors such as poor grounding can be prevented.
3) Industrial Power Supplies
In case of general PC, unlike 200~250W power supply, 250~350W power supply is used, so there is no problem with mounting multiple boards according to the needs of the site. In the case of redundant power, two units are installed in one PC to increase reliability, and an independent transformer suppresses sparks so that stable power can be supplied.
4) Anti-vibration solution
IPC’s frame is designed to be robust so that it can be operated without being affected by external environment such as vibration and shock or dust or temperature. Hold-Down Clamp is used to prevent ISA and PCI Cards from falling into shock or vibration.
5. Scope of application of industrial computers
1) MA: Semiconductor & LCD production process – It should be possible to expand related to motion control, vision card, various sensors and lighting control. Backplane-type industrial computers or embedded computers are mainly used.
2) ITS : Overspeed detection, evasion vehicle monitoring, overload monitoring – A robust industrial computer is essential for being installed in an outdoor environment. Rackmount computers are used in terms of stability rather than space constraints.
3) FA: Factory automation – Applied to automobile factories and electronic/electric production factories. Because there are many IO controls, there are many examples of using a rack-mount type computer or using an integrated touch panel PC considering the operator’s interface.
4) Vessel Offshore: High temperature or low temperature outdoor environment/ Humid external conditions and vibration/ Because there are many restrictions on installation methods, touch-integrated computer/ Trek for vehicle computer is widely used.
5) Logistics/Warehouse: Mobile industrial computer-tablet PC-Trek is an industrial PDA concept, but in consideration of the various environments of workers, function keys and large LCD are applied. The operator can carry the Trek and focus the current inventory information to the host via WiFi.
6) Environment/equipment monitoring: Applied to air pollution level measurement, water pollution check, dam water pressure check, gas facility monitoring, etc. A rack-mount type industrial computer or embedded computer is used.
7) Others: Game console, medical, firewall, security, education, steel mill, heavy industry, ATM, military…
The concept of ubiquitousness is pushing computer technology more and more deeply and precisely into our real life, and the scope of application of industrial computers is getting wider. In keeping with the development speed of general OA PCs, industrial computers are also rapidly launching new products. Considering the harsh industrial site, industrial computers will expand their use more precisely and more reliably. If you are still using a general OA computer in the industrial field, you should actively consider the application of an industrial computer that is suitable for you in consideration of reliability-stability and its versatility.