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Industrial Computer Product Selection Guide & How to Choose an Industrial PC
A commercial/consumer grade PC can't offer the rugged functionality and practicality needed to meet demand and complete necessary tasks in the average factory or manufacturing setting. In this product selection buying guide, we cover everything you’ll need to know about rugged edge computers and industrial PCs, including how to find the right embedded PCs for your business needs. Read on to find out more:
What is an Industrial Computer?
An industrial PC is a computer intended for industrial applications designed to operate in harsh environment where is exposure to extreme temperatures, humidity, liquid ingress, shock and vibration.
This adaptation from a commercial grade PC system provides industrial workplaces with the technology needed for automation, manufacturing, and robotics functionalities, with the sound design needed to withstand the harshest of environments.
Industrial computers typically involve unique design elements such as fanless cooling, extrude aluminum chassis and specialised interfaces.
What are industrial panel PCs?
Industrial panel PCs are a specific type of industrial computing system containing a computer board, industrial grade display panel and user interface such a keypad or touchscreen. There are also edge computers a form of computing that is done on site or near a particular data source, minimizing the need for data to be processed in a remote data center.
Industrial panel PCs are design for continuous use or 24 / 7 operation with minimal downtime for mission critical applications
Industrial computers vs regular desktop computers
Whilst industrial computers and commercial PC’s contain common computing architecture there are some significant differences between the two. Such computers are design for constant operation with unique interfaces tailored to specific vertical markets
- Enclosure form factor
- Build quality and ruggedisation
- Dust and debris protection
- Ability to withstand extreme temperatures
- Ability to withstand shock and vibrations
- Ability to withstand shock and vibrations
- Expandability and longevity
- Ingress protection
- EMI resistance
We've covered all you need to know below:
Enclosure form factor
Unlike standard computing setups, the needs, demands and environment of industrial computing are very different. Vibration, changes in voltage and high temperatures can quickly lead to internal damage or lack of functionality in a standard PC. By contrast, industrial computers are contained within a chassis designed to provide a heat sink, and internal components are created from robust alloy materials. This design choice ensures the inner workings of the PC remains functional no matter the external climate.
Build quality and ruggedisation
The average PC setup within a non-industrial setting, doesn't require the in-depth ruggedisation and robust design, as it's never likely to see any location beyond an office setting or server room. On the other hand, industrial computers need to have rugged design to survive the stress of harsh or challenging environments. Vibration, shock, and temperature can stable operation, making it essential to have an industrial-grade build quality.
Dust and debris protection
Dust and debris are a concern in many industrial environments. Industrial computers are designed without the addition of a cooling fan, preventing dust from the environment from being pulled into the internal space of the computer. By preventing contaminants and debris from entering the chassis of the PC, industrial computers ensure all components can run undisturbed for far longer than a standard PC could.
Ability to withstand extreme temperatures
Whilst not every industrial environment will require computer systems to withstand high or inconsistent temperatures, there are plenty that do. Unlike standard PCs that use less-effective fan cooling, an industrial PC's heat sink and heat pipe functionality allow the computer to withstand far higher temperatures, between -40C and 70C in many cases. Industrial computers are explicitly designed to function in harsh environments, allowing for applications in both extreme heat and cold.
Ability to withstand shock and vibrations
Shock and constant vibration can be a death sentence for a standard PC, with the components and build quality often leading to failure over a relatively short period of time. Industrial computers are designed with these extremes in mind, ensuring continued functionality in environments where regular vibration or shock impact may happen in manufacturing or industrial functionality. The exact level of vibration resistance for industrial PCs can range from 3-5 GRMs, with shock resistance up to 50G, though the actual figures can vary depending on the model and application.
Expandability and longevity
Industrial computers are far more long-lasting in functionality; designed to stand the test of time for years of use, over the more disposable technology offered with commercial grade PC setups. With a wide range of expansion capabilities, it's possible to utilise industrial computers to provide support to industry specific devices and peripherals. Many industries require computers with long service life, continuity of design and long term spares availability. An industrial computer could include interfaces such as legacy COM port, digital and analogue I/O.
Ingress protection provides industrial computers with the security and resistance to keep running in harsh environments. Much like dust protection, liquid ingress resistance may be an essential requirement for an industrial computer setup. Chemical plants, food manufacturing and other process control environments may require thorough cleaning of all equipment for sanitary and hygiene-related reasons. Whilst a commercial PC would likely be rendered non-functional by cleaning chemicals or water spray, industrial computers are designed to have IP protections in place to maintain those necessary standards.
Electromagnetic interference, also known as EMI, is a concern in many industrial settings thanks to the amount of motors, advanced robotics and other machinery used in one single location. Electromagnetic fields interfere with or degrade standard PCs to malfunction. Industrial computers come equipped with EMI shielding or mesh to offer protection.
Most popular I/O ports made for industrial computing applications
- Serial ports
- Video port
- USB ports
- LAN ports
Known as the industry standard, serial or COM ports are often used for legacy interfaces within factory equipment, interfaces such as RS232/422 and 485.
Example: EMP2-X202, mPCIe to 422/485 module
Innodisk PCIe 2.0 compliant. RS-422/485 mode configurable by switch. Supports 485HD(Half Duplex) and 485FD(Full Duplex)
4800 to 3Mbps serial data rate. 16C550 compatible. 256-byte FIFOs
In headless industrial computers video ports provide display drive The most common ports for ports in industrial computers include classic VGA, DVI, HDMI and DP (display port)
As the standard for many forms of technology and automated processes in factories and manufacturing processes, USB ports are usually included in industrial computer design. The versatility of USB and its use in many industries, makes it a necessary inclusion with some industrial computers expanding their port solutions with USB 3.1 or 3.2 for higher bandwidth requirements.
Local area network ports offer a wired connection between an industrial computer and a router, modem, host computer, or switch thus enabling connectivity and communication across the computer network. Whilst some industrial computers may include WiFi capability, LAN is still the most common functionality as a wired, reliable connection for a static industrial computer.
Applications and industries
- Manufacturing & Industrial automation:
- Smart Retail/QSR/Kiosk Solutions:
- Voice, facial and gesture recognition
- Retail Displays
- 4K Video Walls
- Self-Service Kiosk
- Intelligent Warehouse Management:
- Autonomous Mobile Robot - Autonomous mobile robot (AMR) & Autonomic guided vehicle (AGV)
- Scalable Medical-Grade Embedded Computers
- Industrial Computer Solutions for Oil & Gas Industry
Industrial computers are functional and effective options for various business applications and use. Some of the most common include:
Manufacturing & Industrial automation:
The Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) are taking automation to a new level, allowing more devices to be connected to one another, more machinery to be monitored, more insights to be discovered, and more efficiencies to be realized. Industrial PCs, embedded systems, all-in-one touch panel PCs, DIN-rail embedded controllers, and IoT gateway devices are feature-rich and designed to meet the challenging requirements for operation in the automation industry.
1. IPC964-525 - 4-slot 8/9th Gen, NVIDIA® GPU card, up to 125W : Industrial System
Fanless 4 Slot, 8th/9th Gen supporting NVIDIA® GPU card, up to 125W. LGA1151 Socket 9th/8th gen Intel® Core™ processor, up to 65W
2.eBOX671-521-FL Fanless Embedded System: Fanless Embedded System
Fanless Embedded System with LGA1151 9th/8th Gen Intel® Core™ i7/i5/i3 & Celeron® Processor, 4-CH PoE and MXM 3.1 Type A. For applications in machine vision, edge computing, traffic vision, deep learning, and artificial intelligence of things, the eBOX671-521-FL is a GPU computing embedded system with 4-CH PoE and MXM 3.1 Type-A slot.
3. ICO500-518 - 7th gen i7, 2x PIM slots - DIN-rail Embedded System
Fanless Embedded System with 7th Gen Intel® Core™ i7/i5/i3 & Celeron® Processors (Kaby Lake-U), Dual Modular I/O Expansion Design.
4. AIE100-903-FL - NVIDIA Jetson Nano CPU: Edge AI System
Fanless Edge AI System with NVIDIA® JETSON™ Nano SoM, 1 HDMI, 1 GbE LAN, 1 GbE PoE and 2 USB. The AIE100-903-FL is designed for intelligent edge AI applications, such as AI computing, edge computing, smart retail, smart city, and more. The AIE100-903-FL supports NVIDIA® JetPack 4.3.1 for ease of development for AI computing and deep learning applications such as people counting, behavior analysis and facial recognition. Built in POE enables the unit to power IP cameras directly from the unit.
5. AX92324 - 2-port 10GbE PoE PCI Express Card - Frame Grabber & Vision I/O Card
2-port 10GbE PoE PCI Express Card. Intel® Ethernet Controller X550-AT2, up to 10 Gbps data rate. Supports 15.5KB Jumbo Frame and IEEE 1588.
Smart Retail/QSR/Kiosk Solutions:
To meet customer expectations, retail businesses must be more creative in optimizing the in-store experience, while at the same time being able to provide a protected and safe shopping environment. A wide range of products, including smart display modules, modular panel PCs, digital signage players, as well as open-frame touch monitors with an antimicrobial touchscreen that can be incorporated into brick-and-mortar retail stores.
Voice, facial and gesture recognition
The fear of touching contaminated surfaces is rising like never before. Yet to successfully alter how people interact with stores requires some sophisticated technologies. Sensory interfaces such as voice assistants and facial / gesture recognition promise to be more intuitive and immediate.
Retail displays are often seen installed in the store because they can create immersive shopping experiences to boost business performance. Using an intelligent panel PC with excellent graphics capabilities is, therefore, an effective way to catch the shopper’s eye.
4K Video Walls
The video walls are particularly common in retail applications. Using an array of displays aligned edge-to-edge in a grid (1x2, 2x2, etc.) to combine into one larger attraction, the video wall can generate an impressive impact on a wider audience to maximize advertising results.
Restaurants, retail stores, smart cities, hotels, and hospitals are all using self-service kiosks to offer more seamless and convenient experiences. These solutions help lead to shorter lines, boosted revenue, lower labor costs, and increased customer satisfaction.
- Automated inspections
Intelligent Warehouse Management:
Most manufacturers are seeking ways to enhance their competitive advantages by investing in available computer and big data technologies to automate and optimize efficiencies in all areas of their operations. The “Smart Factory” concept has been adopted in many regions throughout the world. Its key characteristic involves fully-integrated, real-time intelligent systems that can respond quickly and automatically with little or no human involvement to the changing demands, conditions and uncertainties.
We provide a comprehensive line of industrial-grade HMI products and embedded systems for factory automation applications such as material quality management, in-process quality inspection, smart packaging and more.
Feature-Rich HMI - GOT110-316-PoE-PD - 10.4" Fanless Panel PC
In addition to performance, the heightened demands for secured manufacturing environments are also a critical factor for a factory or warehouse operational success.
10.4" XGA TFT Fanless Touch Panel Computer Celeron® N3350, POE device.
It offers interfaces that allow for integration with an RFID module and door security software to support facility security control and management. This touch panel computer can be integrated with cameras for surveillance applications. Its IP65 front bezel and IPX1 full enclosure allow this all-in-one industrial panel PC to be used in harsh conditions.
Vision Gateway System - ICO300-83M - ATEX/C1D2 Certified DIN-rail Fanless x5-E3930 PC
CO300-83M combines flexible configuration & expansion and supports a wide array of functional I/O, including six isolated RS-232/422/485 serial ports, one HDMI port, two USB 3.0 ports, three isolated Gigabit Ethernet ports, one 8-in/8-out DIO port, & 5 x antenna ports for WLAN and WWAN.
For applications requiring additional storage the IoT gateway system comes with one mSATA occupied with a PCI Express Mini Card slot, an internal 2.5” SATA drive, and an optional eMMC on board.
The Forklift Application - GOT815L-511 - 15" XGA Fanless i5-7300U
15" XGA TFT IP66 & IP69K-rated Stainless Steel Fanless PCT (or Resistive Touch) Panel Computer with Intel® Core™ i5-7300U Processor
Autonomous Mobile Robot - Autonomous mobile robot (AMR) & Autonomic guided vehicle (AGV)
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, autonomous mobile robot (AMR) and autonomic guided vehicle (AGV) were changing the landscape across many industries - including healthcare, factory, warehouse, logistics and others. Now AMR and AGV can help deal with massive staffing shortages, and the need for social distancing in the post-pandemic era.
Autonomous Mobile Robot (AMR) is a vehicle that uses on-board sensors and processors to autonomously move materials without the need for physical guides or markers. The AMR’s main components include controller, computing unit, battery, motors, sensors and camera. Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) is an industrial vehicle that can be pre-programmed to transport goods in a warehouse, manufacturing and other environments. The AGV’s main components include traction motor, traction batteries, industrial PC (or on-board controller) and payload interface.
DRPC230 is the first DIN-rail box PC equipped with high-performance Intel® Whiskey Lake Core™ 8th gen CPU. It is the first DIN-rail box PC to provide SKU-selectable choices based on system requirements with modular design. DRPC-230 is designed for AI edge inferences and PoE applications through its expansion feature. With Intel® Whiskey Lake Core™ i5-8365UE, DRPC-230-ULT5 is a DIN-rail box PC equipped with high-performance.
The IEI Technology DRPC-130-AL is a fanless DIN-rail embedded system based on the Intel Atom x5-E3930 1.3GHz processor up to a speed of 1.8 GHz. The rugged chassis is Jetpack designed for DIN rail installation and supports wide temp operation. Interfaces include dual GbE, Serial, CAN bus and digital I/O interface. Ideal for industrial automation applications.
The DRPC-120-BT is a Fanless embedded Intel® E3845 1.91 GHz Din rail mount PC.
1 x 2.5' SATA HDD/SSD drive bay and 8-bit digital I/O (4-bit inputs/outputs)
Scalable Medical-Grade Embedded Computers
Medical-grade servers, edge AI computers and medical panel PCs are purpose-built for fast deployment of your clinical, laboratory, research or health facility equipment projects. Now, the fast-growing healthcare market is being driven not only by the rising demand for medical products with powerful computing and AI capabilities, but also by an increased need for solutions adaptable to the rapidly changing challenges faced by healthcare professionals.
Predictive and Precision Medicine with Genomic Data
With the help of high performance computing, reliability and compatibility with the most popular AI software, Axiomtek’s mHPC medical servers are ideal for integration into medical analytics projects. It can be applied to the diagnosis, monitoring, and prediction of diseases using different imaging modalities.
Axiomtek’s mBOX medical edge computing series is targeted at computer-aided diagnosis (CADx), which processes digital images for typical appearances and highlight conspicuous sections, such as possible diseases, in order to offer input to support a decision taken by the professional.
Medical Image Processing and Measuring Instruments
Medical panel PCs are fully customizable to suit the needs of a wide range of medical industry applications, featuring high-performance CPUs, extensive storage capabilities, rich I/O expandability, various form factor sizes, projected-capacitive multi-touch screen displays, plus multiple safety and medical certifications which are well suited for many medical applications.
Medical Diagnosis Devices
Our embedded motherboards are ideal for projects that require flexibility and scalability. The extensive product line offers a variety of form factors, ranges of computing performance, low power consumption options, rich I/Os and customization options. These embedded boards can provide system integrators with the ability to run complex operations as in DNA sequencing machines, blood screening equipment and other complex medical solutions.
Industrial Computer Solutions for Oil & Gas Industry
Our products have been used for integration into oil and gas facilities that require highly reliable and rugged edge controllers, servers and gateway devices. They are used to manage critical operational functions such as controlling wellhead petrochemical equipment operations and testing. Our advanced embedded systems can be used to reliably perform a variety of crucial tasks at the edge - including remote system control and monitoring functions; data gathering and transfer; system status and other analytical reporting. Important operational data can be accessed real-time to help improve operational safety, enhance oil and gas overall production level, reduce and predict maintenance requirements to prevent operational disruption and much more.
DIN-rail Fanless Embedded System with 7th Gen Intel® Core™ i7/i5/i3 & Celeron® Processors, Dual Modular I/O Expansion Design.
Axiomtek's fanless embedded systems are designed to serve mission-critical project OEM/ODMs and oil & gas equipment system integrators. ICO500-518 offer extended operating temperatures, wide range power input with terminal block and over-voltage/reverse protection, and isolated COM and Ethernet ports.
Other Industrial Computing Applications:
- Industrial production planning
- Security and surveillance
- Underground mining
- Military applications
- Gaming boards and Systems
Do factories use computers?
With the evolution of the smart factory, the introduction of automation and the growth of robotics, many modern factories rely on industrial computer technology to carry out vital day-to-day tasks. By combining factory floor machinery with digital technology, factories can take advantage of greater efficiency and improved reliability, which can support faster response and higher standards of quality control.
Data generated from modern factory processes can be utilised to inform future technology investments, and industrial computers are an invaluable component in gathering and utilising that data in ways that help to improve overall business productivity. With more and more factories investing in high-quality computing systems, an industrial computer can provide the reliable connectivity needed to achieve goals and overcome production bottlenecks.
How do manufacturers use computers in production planning?
Industrial computers in manufacturer settings are far more than just the engine that drives machinery and technology on-site. When implemented correctly, industrial computers can be utilised in enterprise research planning systems, supporting businesses in improving production, forecasting, and handling inventory all in one digital space. ERP supports automation, which gives manufacturers a 'bigger picture' view of where their processes are now and how they could potentially be improved.
Software such as SAP and Oracle use the data and information provided by on-the-floor computers to achieve a higher standard of production control, providing the means to plan effectively and accurately. Industrial computer data is directly fed into ERP systems, providing all the valuable information management needs to make sense of production planning based on past information and future projections.
Recommended In-Vehicle Computer Products
- ATC 8010, powerful and reliable Artificial Intelligent (AI) platform, is specially designed for the applications, such as ANPR, AFR and highly-demanding on graphic performance.
- Intel® Coffee Lake desktop 35W CPU, and NVIDIA® 1050Ti/1080 graphic card guarantees the graphic performance, which satisfies with most of the Automated Intelligent (AI) requirement.
- 8-Port 802.3af/at PoE, offers wide bandwidth and precise control to the analysis of big video data. Besides, ultraONE+ technology commits the transmission of video and audio, up to 10 meters distance.
- 5 x HDMI and 1 x VGA let users monitor the immediate video without any delay and blind spot.
- RAID 0, 1, 5, 10 guarantees the safety of video data in the 2 x external SSD, and 2 x mSATA.Fanless design for NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 1050Ti is also available.
What can you buy industrial computers?
Tekdis are specialists in industrial computing product tailored to your needs. Browse our portfolio online today or get in touch with our sales team to discuss your project. Our mission to provide an appropriate solution at optimium cost