10 Things to Love about Industrial PCs

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Shopping for an Industrial PC shouldn’t be too hard, should it? Well, with Valentine’s Day quickly approaching, here’s an analogy that sums it up. Think about how easy it is to run into the supermarket for your standard romantic card, box of chocolates, and bouquet of flowers. But will this simple purchase do the trick? What if she has allergies? Have you considered her favorite kind of flower? Is she a long, sappy poem kind of gal or would she prefer a simple card with handwritten sentiment at the end? Will flowers, chocolates and a card do the trick or do you need something more expensive, like jewelry? Suddenly, this seemingly easy task has become more complex.

In the same sense, it’s easy to go online or to the store to look at and purchase a standard PC. Although these PCs will provide you with a myriad of software and application options, there are specific applications that they won’t be able to address. So, if you’re in the market for an Industrial PC, there are important aspects to consider. Luckily, I have an Industrial PC checklist for you…but you’re on your own for Valentine’s Day!

Sticking with my Valentine’s Day analogy, here is my list of 10 Things to Love about Industrial PCs:

  1. Fanless: Fanless PCs can accommodate a wide operating temperature range and are available as headless Embedded PCs and as Touch Panel Computers.
  2. Multiple Form-Factors: You can find a variety of 1U-7U rack mount, wall mount/desktop, Touch Panel, Embedded, Panel PC and Industrial Panel PC units to accommodate your application, based on the amount of space you have.
  3. HMI Option: Want to include an HMI? Choose from fanless Touch Panel Computers, I/O-intensive Panel PCs, Rugged Industrial Panel PCs or headless Embedded PCs combined with a Flat Panel Monitor. Sizes range from 5.7” to 21.4” and models include full HD resolution, widescreen, multi-touch, resistive and capacitive.
  4. I/O Intensive: In certain instances, a greater amount of I/O is required than what can be found on a standard PC. Rack mount/wall mount/desktop PCs can be configured with motherboard or passive backplane and single board computer to accommodate legacy ISA, PCI and PCIe cards. These PCs range from 6 to 20 slots. There are also I/O intensive Embedded PCs that include multiple LAN, COM and USB ports if fanless is preferable and space is at a minimum.
  5. Operate 24/7: In several industries and processes, it is imperative that your PC(s) run 24/7, 365. Due to the construction of the chassis, bezel, motherboards, backplanes, system on modules, single board computers, peripherals and I/O, Industrial PCs can withstand rugged and dirty environments, while providing you with the peace of mind that they won’t fail. The larger chassis also include multiple fans to improve air flow, keeping the temperature down and operation consistent.
  6. Extreme Temperatures: Where heat is prevalent, such as in glass or PCB factories, it is crucial that the PCs controlling the process can operate without failure. Industrial PCs successfully operate at 32 ~ 131°F and can be stored at more extreme temperatures than that.
  7. Class I, Division 2: There is always a need for explosion-proof Industrial PCs that can operate in hazardous environments such as explosion-proof, oil field drilling, pump station monitoring, chemical plants, pharmaceutical factories, oil pipeline monitoring, tank storage monitoring and fuel station management. Current solutions include data acquisition modules, industrial Ethernet switches, serial device servers, industrial monitors and embedded automation computers.
  8. Compatible with Multiple Operating Systems: As programming becomes more flexible, applications demand a myriad of operating systems depending on their specification requirements. Industrial PCs accommodate Windows CE, Windows XP Embedded, Windows XP Pro SP3, Windows 7 32/64-bit, Windows Embedded Standard 7P, Linux and DOS.
  9. IP Compliant: Most Industrial PCs are IP65 & IP66 compliant, preventing the ingress of dust and water projected by a nozzle or powerful jet.
  10. Longevity: Since most industrial computing products are manufactured by the respective provider, most boards in the units are industrial, making the length of life longer than standard PCs with 3rd party boards. Most Industrial PCs have availability and support time frames of 5-7 years, making it easy to standardize across your platform. The length of life for most Industrial PCs will exceed 10 years, which is essential when planning and implementing a very large project.

If you find yourself in a situation where you’re not sure how to proceed in selecting the appropriate Industrial PC for your application, feel free to give me a call at 800-830-9523, ext. 126 or email me at jeremy.miller@l-tron.com. In the meantime, good luck Valentine’s Day shopping!

About the Author:

Jeremy Author PictureJeremy Miller is L-Tron’s Industrial Automation and Advantech Product Specialist. Jeremy is highly trained and brings over 10 years of experience in the industrial control, data acquisition and test & measurement markets. Jeremy holds Advantech certifications in: Industrial Platform, Industrial Operator Panel, Automation Controller & I/O, Industrial Communication, & Automation Software. Jeremy can be reached at 800-830-9523 ext 126; jeremy.miller@L-Tron.com