Dick Morley, widely considered to be the guy who developed the first PLC, also introduced many people to the industrial computer. He didn’t call them industrial computers in those days, but actually they were industrial computers. Today you can find an industrial computer in almost every corner of a factory. There are big differences between an office PC and an industrial PC, for which you must take account of operating temperature range, shock and vibration requirements, humidity, dust, EMI, IP/NEMA ratings and expandability.
David Kaley, HMI product marketing manager, Omron Electronics (www.omron247.com), says: “Most industrial panel PCs have gone to fanless designs with no spinning data-processing media to improve reliability for critical applications. Disk-on-module (DOM) replaced the spinning media, but the high price has had limited acceptance of DOMs. Even though prices for PCs with DOM have dropped almost by half, recent advances in CompactFlash deliver a more affordable media than DOM for most applications. For long-term support and maintenance, CompactFlash offers the advantage of easier replacement. Users are migrating to higher-reliability PCs with self-monitoring health functions to prevent unexpected lockup or shutdown. Voltages, operating system and designated application software are monitored.”
But, there is another side to industrial computers, and that is the embedded industrial computer. “Originally, embedded systems were designed to provide a preprogrammed solution to a single application, but advances in operating system design have made it possible to develop monolithic kernels, such as the adaptations of Windows and Linux operating systems,” says Mike Berryman, Advantech, Industrial Automation Group (www.advantech.com). “This gives programmers an environment similar to a desktop operating system. This type of embedded system allows reuse of publicly available code for objects like device drivers, web servers and firewalls.”
Simatic S7-mEC modular embedded controller provides a bridge between traditional modular controllers and PCbased systems for the operator accustomed to PLCs but needs additional connectivity and Windows applications on the same engine. The controller has an Intel Core Duo processor, 1 GB of RAM, two Profinet ports, one fast Ethernet port, two USB ports, Windows XPe, WinAC RTX 2008 soft-PLC, a flash disk and a micro memory card.
Siemens Energy & Automation
|BEATS THE HEAT
APL3000 industrial PCs have a 2 GHz Intel Core Duo CPU with expanded memory, up to 4 GB of RAM. A Factory Alert System monitors PC health and generates instant notifications about excessive heat exposure, impending hard drive or fan failure, CPU or power troubles. Advanced Data Protection uses hot-swappable hard drives and RAID-enabled redundancy to protect critical plant data.
Uno-2171 embedded automation computer with Pentium M 1.4 GHz CPU includes two RS232 ports, two RS232/422/485 ports with automatic data flow control ports, two 10/100 Ethernet ports, two USB 2.0 ports, PC/104+ expansion and has an operating range of -20–65 °C. It supports Windows XP, XP Embedded OS and CE 5.0.
Advantech Industrial Automation Group
Bulletin 6181F and Bulletin 6181P standard models have a Celeron M 1.06 GHz processor and 512 MB of DDR2 memory. The 6181F standard version is a static computer with zero moving parts for robust applications. Performance models have a Core Duo 1.6 GHz processor and 1 GB of DDR2 and are available in stainless steel.
|IN A BOX
Magelis iPC all-in-one industrial PC for stand-alone or distributed applications has four levels of processors and screen sizes. Smart is a pre-configured, all-in-one terminal for client and HMI applications. Compact iPC includes dual-Ethernet, multiple connectivity options and data storage options; Flex PC Box adds advanced features.
ePC-Series computers include 15-inch XGA, 17-inch SXGA and 19-inch SXGA LCD versions. All have NEMA 4/4x/12 panel-mountable fronts, less than three inches deep. Stainless steel front panels and non-rotating hard drives are optional. Included is a CompactFlash socket, two 10/100/1000 Ethernet, one RS422/485 port, two RS232 ports, four USB 2.0, PS/2 and an external video connection.
NSA-Series hardened industrial panel PCs with built-in touchscreen monitors and 4 GB storage have no spinning hard drive or fan, and self-monitoring circuit board and software that operates independently of the CPU to preserve system-status data in event of a CPU failure.
C65xx series industrial computers are designed to be installed in control cabinets or in the rear panel of control/console housings. With TwinCat software and Intel Core 2 Duo 2.16 GHz processors, the PC becomes an all-in-one PLC and motion control system.
LPC-450PCI Little PC with built-in PCI expansion card slot uses Intel’s Core 2 Duo processor. The chassis is two inches tall with a footprint of a hardcover novel and weighs 10 pounds. With the PCI slot, users can add specialized I/O, video, data acquisition and communications cards.
APC810 industrial PC is based on Intel Core Duo technology and operates without a fan. PCI and PCI express slots are available. Fast data throughput handles graphics applications and image processing. It supports serial ATA hard disks and has a Gigabit Ethernet interface.
B&R Industrial Automation
|VEHICLE MOUNT TERMINALS
Vehicle Mount Terminals (VMTs) are IP65-rated machine-mount PCs with a cast-magnesium housing. Design allows direct mounting on the machine without additional enclosures. With a Pentium M 1.4 GHz CPU, it’s available in 10-, 12-, 15- and 17-inch screen sizes. Options include 802.11 b/g wireless Ethernet.
SealTouch-15 NEMA-12 flatpanel touchscreen computer in an environmentally sealed enclosure weighs 28 pounds and can be installed on an arm. Designed to operate in 50 °C /122 °F ambient temperatures, the computer has an Intel Celeron M 1.5 GHz processor with 512 MB DDRAM, 40 GB hard drive and Ethernet.
GE Fanuc Intelligent Platforms
Visuex panel PC includes a touchscreen and an Ethernet network connection. This platform is designed for control and display panels with the visualization system of your choice, for software PLC systems, for client-server applications with a SCADA system or for Web terminals. It meets Cat. II 2G (Zone 1, 2) and II 2D (Zone 21, 22).
Microbox 782AA-ACP fanless industrial thin-client terminal computer has an AMD LX800 processor running at 500 MHz. With 256 MB of DDR333, expandable to 1 GB, its I/O connections include dual 10/100 Mbps Ethernet, one LTP printer port, three RS232 COM ports, one RS232/422/585 COM port, four USB 2.0 ports, one VGA port, one CompactFlash memory slot and one KB/MS connection.
EnduraTouch 1500FX and 1700FX front-access NEMA 4X PCs have a stainless steel enclosure, 15- or 17-in. LCD, sealed I/O ports and self-contained cooling technology to prevent leaks and keep dust out in extreme environments. They meet FSIS requirements. Operating systems include XP, Embedded XP, CE and Linux.
Everest industrial computer comes with IGEL or Fedora options for Linux operating systems. Designed for extremes of temperature, vibration, shock and/or moisture, it has a full-screen color display and touchscreen.
|IN-CHASSIS INDUSTRIAL PC
In-chassis industrial PC acts as a distributed data collection tool and provides audit trails and data flags for tracking modified, inserted or incomplete data. The PC56-Historian requires no software development or modifications to the processor program when used with local and remote ControlLogix platforms.
UC-7410/UC-7420 RISC-based, Linux and WinCE computers have eight RS-232/422/485 serial ports, a PCMCIA interface for wirelessLAN, CompactFlash and USB ports for external memory. Software written for a desktop PC can be ported as is to the device using available development tools, and the code can be stored in the Flash memory. Based on Intel XScale IXP-422/425, 266/533 MHz processor, it has 128 MB RAM, 32 MB Flash, dual 10/100 Mbps Ethernet, and is DIN-rail or wall-mountable.