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.