Industrial PCs offer rugged display flexibility


he installation of display units in industrial machines has to overcome many problems, not the least of which are severe environmental and operating conditions. A robust mechanical construction is a major factor in successful operation. B&R Industrial Automation designers had these factors in the forefront of their thinking with new Panel PC and APC620 industrial PCs.


The Panel PC combines an industrial PC and display in one unit--a clear choice where installation of a PC and display is required in a limited space.

Panel PCs are available with 10.4-in. VGA and 15-in. XGA TFT touchscreen displays. “The housing is a defining factor,” says Raimund Ruf, Business Manager HMI, B&R Austria. “From very flat devices without PCI slots to expandable devices with two PCI slots, the Panel PC can be optimized to meet the requirements of the application.” In addition, the Panel PC has an integrated Compact Flash slot that can be expanded with a second Compact Flash slot or a hard disk, and the Panel PC with two PCI slots optionally can be equipped with a slide-in-drive for CD-ROM, DVD-ROM/CD-RW, hard disk or floppy disk.

The Panel PC was designed for operation without a fan. All components that need to be cooled, such as processor and chipset, are arranged so heat is dissipated on the heat sink on the back of the device.

The APC620 Automation PC combines the advantages of an open system with full integration in an automation system. Used as a central PC-based control unit or as a higher-level system based on networked controllers, its modular design offers flexibility and several possible configurations, and was introduced to the market especially for complex automation tasks such as in packaging. The mechanical design, Ruf adds, is based on the results of extensive shock and vibration tests that place high demands on the materials. “The units will prove their value through reduced implementation times, shortened ROI cycles, long life in the field and easy serviceability,” adds Marc Ostertag, vice president of B&R Industrial Automation.

One, two, or five PCI slots provide three housing variations. The rest of the highly modular components include a Compact Flash slot on the base system or another Compact Flash or a hard disk. There are up to two slots provided for other types of drives as well.

The APC620 is designed to take up the least amount of room in the switching cabinet. A front cover conceals the interfaces for drives and the Compact Flash slot. “Very early in the development phase, B&R decided to use CompactFlash for mass memory since it doesn't have any rotating parts and because it can also last a long time in rough industrial environments with high reliability,” says Ruf. “All connections and interfaces are located on the top side of its housing so that they do not protrude and increase the installation depth.”

These devices are equipped with an advanced interface feature, which allows the industrial PC to be adapted to various transfer technologies. “When using standard digital visual interface (DVI) link, USB and Touch are channeled along a separate cables since they are not included in the DVI standard,” advises Ruf. “The short-distance link [SDL] with a transfer distance of up to 15 m, and the long-distance link [LDL] for up to 40 m, fully integrate USB, keys, LEDs and touch information. To make connecting USB peripheral devices convenient, the two USB interfaces are located on the back side, along with a USB interface on the front side underneath a IP65-rated cover.” The 10.4, 15, 17 and 19-in. displays are available with touchscreens, fixed function keys, or a combination of both.

Both new product lines are based on the same platform, which means they offer processors ranging from a 400-MHz Celeron to a 1.6-GHz Pentium M, as well as providing a variety of options for user applications. Windows XP embedded, the modular variant of Windows XP Professional, is the preferred APC620 operating system with low memory requirements. “In combination with Compact Flash, Windows XP embedded allows use of the current, most-powerful Microsoft Desktop operating system in rough environmental conditions,” adds Ruf. “B&R offers preinstalled Compact Flash cards to make the transition to Windows XP embedded as easy as possible.”

For more information, call 770/772-0400, e-mail, or browse the B&R Industrial Automation.