During my time at L-Tron Corporation, my passion has revealed itself in the work I do with customers in the Industrial Automation & Data Acquisition arenas. I truly love what I do and feel it’s necessary that I not only provide products, solutions and services that exceed the customer’s expectations but also that I share my knowledge I’ve learned.
My goal is to provide the information required for you to make the best decision for your application and business. Although these are my opinions, they are based on my interface with customers, product knowledge and successful implementation experiences. With that said, I thought this would be a good time to review:
5 Elements that Make an Industrial PC ‘Industrial’
Everything begins and ends with the chassis selection. Whether Rack mount, Wall mount, Desktop or Embedded, the quality of the chassis will determine the success your PC will have in the field. Believe it or not, even in the industrial arena, customers do choose to configure their PC around a 3rd party chassis. Most of the time, this is done because of the lower cost of the product. Although there can be some success stories found by doing so, my experience has shown that those chassis, regardless of the form factor, are unable to stand up to the rigors of industrial applications.
My advice? Consider utilizing a chassis similar to the Advantech 4U Rackmount Chassis, 8-slot Wallmount/Desktop Chassis or Embedded PC. These choices have all proven themselves in the implementations I have been involved with.
After chassis selection, selecting the appropriate Motherboard for your application is of utmost importance. Depending on the amount of I/O you require, you can choose between an Advantech ATX Motherboard or larger footprint that would include a PICMG1.0/PICMG1.3 Passive Backplane paired with a PICMG1.0/PICMG1.3 Single Board Computer. The goal is to find a truly industrial main board solution so that issues don’t arise with quality, grounding, interconnectivity and interface/communication with external I/O.
It’s important that the PC you select can run 24/7/365 to meet the demands of your application. A quality chassis and main board will enable you to take the first step but you must also consider the IP and NEMA ratings of the product. External elements such as temperature, dust, dirt, grease and grime will play a major role in some applications. You want to have a PC in place that can resist those elements, while creating the airflow required for the PC to get the job done.
I find it very valuable to select a PC that will enable you to standardize your platform by finding a solution with a 5-7 year availability time frame. There is also something that can be said for an Industrial PC that can hold its configuration availability for that length of time. Software revisions and swapping out external I/O can be very costly. By keeping the longevity of the PC you choose in mind, you can get in front of potential issues you might face in the future by utilizing an off-the-shelf PC.
If you pair yourself with a manufacturer that produces product of the highest quality, you will find that the peripherals they provide in their PCs mesh well with the solution as a whole. Larger manufacturers such as Advantech test peripherals with the PCs before making them a part of their standard product offering. This is a great value because you know that what is provided is a proven solution and you can remove the worries experienced by attempting to integrate more cost-effective 3rd party peripherals. You will also find that top manufacturers, including Advantech, will also offer a diverse line of industrial I/O cards that further enforce that value.
I’m curious, do you agree with my “Top 5” list? Let me know on Twitter @LTronCorp.
Keep in mind that your configuration and implementation doesn’t have to be difficult. My goal is to show you how to make things easier throughout the process!
About the Author
Jeremy 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.