We think we have a pretty clear picture of the performance and capability expectations you have when you specify industrial PCs for your applications.
An IPC study we conducted earlier this year asked the participants to rank the importance of certain characteristics and capabilities in their industrial PCs. Some 86% called harsh environment capability important or very important, 81% said the same about an enhanced operating temperature range, and shock/vibration tolerance was similarly ranked by 77% of the participants.
In addition, 61% said they prefer a panel-mount unit, 39% demand no moving parts, 38% look for a small footprint, and 30% seek out a low-power/low-heat CPU.
The majority of the study respondents, some 59%, specify a graphical display with touchscreen for their operator interface hardware. That was followed by 30% of the respondents who prefer a graphical display with keyboard or other input device.
The size of the graphical display varies widely, according to the participants. Some 35% indicated they specify displays of 25 in. or greater, 30% specify displays of 6–10 in., and 24% choose 10–14 in. screen sizes.
Here's a response we think will change significantly as we move forward: In this study, 73% of respondents' operator interface screens do not incorporate web browser capability.
Among those who say they do provide web browsing capabilities, troubleshooting information (67%), machine schematics (42%) and the ability to update software remotely (40%) were the reasons they wanted it included.
Atom-based UNO-2174A and UNO-2178A embedded automation computers feature a low-power-consumption, dual-core 1.67 GHz Atom CPU and 2 GB DDR2 RAM compatible with Windows 7. They are Energy Star-certified, IP40 anti-dust ingress rated, and assessed for 14–158 °F. They come with 5.1 HD channel audio, four serial ports (two RS-232/485 and two RS-232/422/485), which support any required baud rate, two Gigabit Ethernet ports and six USB 2.0 ports.
Advantech Industrial Automation
VL BPC Mini embedded box PC operates at -40 to 149 °F with a DIN-rail-mountable compact design. It has a 1.1 GHz Intel Atom Z510PT processor, thermal design power (TDP) of 4.4 W, and six USB 2.0 ports, one VGA port and one RS-232/422/485 port. Two Gigabit Ethernet ports and a CompactFlash slot and digital I/O are options.
|1U for You
C5210 19 in., slide-in industrial PC requires only one rack unit, has a two-core, 1.9 GHz Intel Celeron processor on a 3.5 in. motherboard, and an on-board RAID controller and two SATA 3.5 in. removable hard drive frames. It's extendable with PCIe modules, Mini PCI card or DVD drive.
VisuNet Industrial 900 operator workstations, available as a full panel PC with a glove-friendly touchscreen, are built for high shock and vibration. The 15 or 19 in. units are encased in a NEMA 4/4x stainless or painted steel housing suitable for Class I, Div. 2 use without venting or cooling fans.
Panel PC 725 has an integrated 15 in. touchscreen and an Intel Atom N270 processor, two Ethernet interfaces, two USB 2.0 interfaces and one serial interface for communication at the machine level and in the plant network. Cabling is handled via the flange so standard cables can be used, and the battery and CompactFlash cards are behind a separate cover.
B&R Industrial Automation
Relio R1420 rugged embedded computer operates without moving parts, and standard I/O includes dual Gigabit Ethernet, six USB 2.0 ports, four serial ports, 8-bit GPIO, audio output and VGA video. Powered by a 1.6 GHz Intel Atom N450 CPU, it has 2 GB RAM, offers low power consumption and operates fanless to 50 °C ambient.
Allen-Bradley extreme environment computers are rated ATEX Category 3 (for gas and dust) and UL listed for Class I Division 2 hazardous locations. These panel-mount computers are rated for extreme environment, and with a 12.1 in. TFT color display offer resistive touch and readability in sunlight.
|No Fans Needed
TPC-2206 and TPC-2212 touch panel computers are 1.33 GHz Intel Atom processor-based, low-power, fanless devices with a -20 to 60 °C operating range, 4 GB solid-state drives and Windows Embedded OS, along with 1 GB RAM, two Gigabit Ethernet ports and LED backlight technology.
|Add It Up
Addax-i fanless workstation has Intel Core i5/i7 technology with up to 8 GB RAM, designed for harsh industrial environments in temperatures 0–55 °C. Two drive bays can be hard disk drives, solid-state drives in a RAID 0 configuration, or removable solid-state drives in a mirrored RAID 1 setup. PCI, PCIe and Mini PCIe expansion slots are available.
Mupac 760 Series small form factor embedded computer has IP67 and IP50, NEMA-rated versions that operate at -10 to 60 °C, have Intel Core i3/i5/i7 multicore processors with up to 4 GB RAM, and standard I/O includes dual DVI display, Gigabit Ethernet port, eight USB 2.0 ports, two RS-232 ports, two SATA 3 Gbps with RAID 0, 1 support, and one 6-pin header for KB/MS with Realtek ALC888 HD supported audio.
|No Moving Parts
Magelis Smart+ iPC runs Windows XP Pro with no hard disk or fan. It includes Type 4X (IP65) touchscreen, Intel Celeron M 1 GHz processor, 1 GB RAM, two Ethernet ports, and solid-state drive. It has been certified to UL 508 for industrial control equipment; and UL and ATEX for hazardous locations.
Atom processor-based Simatic IPC227D Nanobox PC can operate without a fan at ambient temperatures to 50 °C. It has the option of one PCIe slot, three additional serial interfaces or four digital inputs and outputs (24 Vdc), and has four status LEDs, three of which are fully programmable. Diagnostic software is pre-installed to provide comprehensive analysis.
ePC15T Lite industrial PC has Intel-based, fanless 1.6 GHz Atom N270 CPU board and standard Intel 40 GB solid-state drive. Standard I/O includes 10/100/1000 Ethernet port, one RS-232 port, three USB 2.0 ports, audio output, and external analog or digital video connection that supports dual display with extended desktop. It has a 15 in. XGA LCD, 2 GB DRAM, and analog-resistive 5-wire touchscreen with NEMA 4 front panel.
|Got a Lot
GOT-5000 fanless touch panel computer supports Intel Atom N270 or AMD Geode LX800 processor in LCD sizes 5.7–12.1 in. IP65 rating and NEMA 4 sealed-front bezel provides protection, and aluminum back chassis provides thermal stability. It has 10/100/1000 Mbps Ethernet, a Mini Card slot or Mini PCI slot, and a built-in WLAN antenna for wireless LAN/GPRS/GSM/3G connections, a 2.5 in. SATA hard disk drive and a CompactFlash slot, rich I/O for peripheral connectivity and an overcurrent protection fuse.
|Hazard Class IPC
I/O Server industrial PC with UL certification for Class I Div 2 Group A, B, C, D hazardous locations with volatile substanceshas an Intel Atom or AMD Geode CPU and an integrated carrier card for up to four plug-in I/O modules. More than 20 I/O modules include provide high-density A/D, D/A, discrete level control, counter/timer, and serial communication functions. CAN bus, Mil-Std-1553, and configurable FPGA modules offer advanced control capabilities.
Panel Magic PCs range 12 to 42 in. with available Pentium M, Atom and Core 2 Duo integrated processors, 1080p resistive touchscreens, PCI expansion capability, and custom bezel colors. The PC meets a NEMA 4X rating.
4823CX PC has a 15 in. LED-backlit LCD and glass-on-glass resistive touchscreen, and handles extreme temperatures and industrial conditions. It has an Intel Atom processor, as well as optional Bluetooth, GPS, speakers, camera, microphone, Wi-Fi antenna, battery and charger. It is rated NEMA 4X and FM-approved pending Div 2 and Zone 2 ATEX rating.
Daisy Data Displays
| Rugged FPC
Wolverine III rugged flat-panel computer has a resistive 15-in. antiglare, scratch-resistant touchscreen readable in direct sunlight. The computing platform is a COM Express module and carrier board with an Intel Core2 Duo 2.26 GHz processor and 4 GB DDR3 memory, along with a 32 GB solid-state drive. Housed in a NEMA 4 sealed enclosure, an optional heater allows an operational range of -40 to 60 °C.
GE Intelligent Platforms
Guardian Series of 7, 8, and 10-in. tablets include MIL-SPEC IP65, MIL-STD 810F and MIL-STD 461E, standards, daylight-viewable options and a range of communication options and expansion slots for specific requirements.
LPC-125LPM small form PC for embedded applications operates in extreme temperatures and draws less than 20 W of power. It's 4.0x6.1x1.45 in., operates on 10-26 Vdc power, and has Gigabit LAN, 3-USB, 2-Serial, Video, Audio In/Out, 2-PS/2 ports and 1-external express card slot.
|Open for Business
PPC3-G-6.5 open-frame PC operates from -20 to +70 °C and includes a resistive touchscreen integrated into a 2 in. deep chassis. The 6.5 in. color TFT flat panel display with 640 x 480 pixel resolution has luminance of 500 nits, a wide viewing angle, and a contrast ratio of 600:1. A PC/104-Plus SBC is the computing and display engine and contains the flat panel video controller, Ethernet port, two USB 2.0 ports, 4 COM channels, LPT, AC97 audio, 48 lines of digital I/O, and CompactFlash connector.