New Breed of Industrial PC

Feb. 12, 2008
The Push for Smaller, More-Reliable Components of All Shapes and Functions Is Relentless in Machine Control System Design

As factory-floor real estate becomes more precious, a smaller machine footprint—operator panel space included—is at or near the top of every manufacturer’s must-do list.

This clearly applies to panel-mount industrial PCs as well. Long thought of as panel space hogs with unreliable operating components such as rotating media and keyboards, the pressure has been on industrial PC builders to manufacture smaller, better products.

Design engineers at Nematron say their new product is answering that call. The company has announced the launch of its ePC-Series of industrial computers, which it believes will change the conventional, big, bulky and expensive definition of industrial PCs.

“Our goal was to provide the product capabilities of a traditional industrial computer in a small, powerful size and at a price point that machine builders need,” explains Ralph Damato, Nematron’s vice president of product management. “With the ePC-Series’ ultra-thin design, powerful processors and extensive I/O, we’ve accomplished our goal. We’re also extremely proud to say that these new products, unlike many on the market today, are built in the U.S. and supported globally.”

The ePC-Series computers include 15-in. ePC1500 XGA, 17-in. ePC1700 SXGA and 19-in. ePC1900 SXGA LCD versions. All three units come standard with 100-240 Vac input power supplies and NEMA 4/4x/12 panel-mountable front panels. The units have Class I, Div. 2 hazardous location approvals for machines installed in hazardous areas.

“The units are less than 3 in. deep when panel-mounted,” adds Damato. “Stainless-steel front panels, solid-state, non-rotating hard drives and 24 Vdc input power are available options for all three sizes, and all can be specified with five-wire, analog-resistive touchscreens.” Damato adds the panels also are VESA (Video Electronics Standards Association) arm-mount-capable to provide additional mounting possibilities.

Nematron engineers say the included rear-accessible CompactFlash Type I/II socket and extensive I/O eliminate the need for bulky expansion slots and unreliable rotating CD-ROMs and floppies, although an easily removable and swappable hard drive is available if desired.

I/O capabilities on the three units include two 10/100/1000 Ethernet ports, one jumper-selectable port for RS-422/485, two ports for RS-232, four USB 2.0 ports, a PS/2 port and an external video connection that supports dual display with extended desktop.

 “With options that include an Intel Core Duo T2500 2.0 GHz processor and 2 GB DRAM, the ePC-Series provides enough processing power to run the most complex HMI and SCADA applications,” says Damato. A Celeron M440 1.86 GHz processor also is available.

“To top this all off, the 80 GB SATA hard drive can be removed easily without any cable connections,” says Damato. “Our design means low power consumption and, as a result, the unit has excellent heat dissipation.” Operating temperature range is specified to be 0–60 °C, and when supplied with solid-state drives the units handle 15 g peak shock.

Damato says all three sizes of the ePC-Series have UL/cUL 508 and 1604, RoHS and European CE Mark approvals, making system integration attractive for virtually any industrial application and/or location.

For more information, call 734/214-2000 in North America or +44 23 9226 8080 in Europe, e-mail [email protected], or browse to

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