During my 11+ years in Industrial Automation sales, I have gotten a good feel for the hardware solutions that perform best on the manufacturing floor. Due to the pressing need for a quality and cost-effective solution with longevity and platform standardization, I wanted to go into a bit more depth about five Industrial PCs that get the job done.
5 Advantech Industrial PCs for the Manufacturing Floor:
Whether it be Test & Measurement, Traceability, Manufacturing or Final Assembly, there are a multitude of 2U to 7U and 5-slot to 20-slot solutions available for custom configuration. The most popular seem to be the Advantech 4U Rackmount chassis with 14-slot Passive Backplane and the 8-slot Wall mount/Desktop Chassis. Of course, there are plenty of options available, depending on your specification requirements. The reason I highlighted those two solutions is that a lot of users will install the 4U rackmount PCs in pre-fabricated 19” cabinets, while the 8-slot chassis is utilized for applications such as testers, where there is less space available.
Where PC implementation space is at a minimum, an Embedded PC is a great selection. All models are fanless, which means less moving parts. These units are also I/O-intensive and vary in I/O configuration, depending on your LAN, USB, COM & Video requirements. For applications with vibration, an UNO Embedded PC is a great choice since it’s fanless and works seamlessly with a compact flash or solid state drive. If HMI is required, just add a Flat Panel Monitor with touchscreen and you are able to implement a fully industrial unit for operator interface.
If a fanless all-in-one solution is what you are looking for, a Touch Panel Computer is a great choice. Models range in size from 3.5” to 21.4” and are available in wide screen and multi-touch interface. For those applications where one or two LAN, USB & COM are all that you need, this is a great alternative to an Embedded PC. The largest usage for this PC is for SCADA implementations that include customized software and directly interface with a PLC, external I/O and peripherals.
For the more rugged applications such as milling, CNC machines, glass production, etc. where severe vibration and ingress is prevalent, an IP65 NEMA rated Panel PC is your best bet. Panel PCs will provide the same performance as a Touch Panel Computer but include a ruggedized bezel and one to two rear I/O expansion slots. This is a value to quite a few customers that have a proprietary card or two that have to be installed in the PC.
With a stainless steel chassis, up to a NEMA IP69K rating and greater I/O expansion flexibility that the Panel PC, the Industrial Panel PC is the ideal Ruggedized HMI solution for the factory floor. These also boast a glass front panel with 7H hardness, fanless cooling along with a widescreen and multi-touch option. If big and bad are what you are looking for, you just found it.
That wraps up what I feel to be the Five PCs that provide the best Performance on the Manufacturing Floor. Hopefully, this answered some of your questions and provided you with further insight into the options currently available to you. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at 800-830-9523, ext. 126 or via email at Jeremy.Miller@L-Tron.com.
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.