Due to new, demanding applications such as image processing, control and regulation tasks or video analysis, computing power is playing an increasingly important role for embedded PCs, DIN rail PCs and industrial computers in general in production and plant control. At the same time, IT with its fast product cycles is finding its way into many additional areas of industry. This calls for flexible interface concepts. A broad product selection and the support of experienced experts are the only way to ensure that companies make the right choice for their automation projects.
Digitization is gradually taking hold of all companies. At the moment, this is particularly noticeable in the office. However, all companies work with similar processes and have the same building blocks at their disposal for digitization. In industry, therefore, the opportunities to differentiate and increase individual value creation through digitization are significantly greater in production and plant control. Those who can usefully link their own expertise in products, manufacturing, quality assurance, services and logistics processes, built up over years or even decades, with technology can actually gain decisive competitive advantages – for example, by producing faster, at better quality and with fewer errors, or by responding more individually and flexibly to their customers’ requirements.
At the heart and driving force of these changes are industrial computers, which are used on site in production, manufacturing or logistics. They carry the ideas of the specialists into the respective environment and give them life. This is also possible because a significant increase in performance, IoT and IIoT (Internet of Things / Industrial Internet of Things) and cloud connectivity, as well as progress in machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) have opened up completely new possibilities. However, companies can only benefit from these if they can also use the performance on site.
High performance requirements
In the past, embedded PCs for production and plant control, DIN rail PCs and industrial computers in general were measured primarily by their robustness and insensitivity to adverse operating conditions. These parameters are still indispensable. However, there is now a wide range to choose from.
It becomes more difficult when high computing power is also required. This is increasingly the case. The reason for this is increasingly complex applications, such as quality assurance using image processing and machine learning, automatic recognition when sorting workpieces, packaging or other objects at high speed, communication between machines in real time and much more.
Flexibility is the key
In addition to performance, the flexibility required must also be given. Flexibility has two dimensions in relation to embedded computers. On the one hand, the requirements for the type and number of interfaces are often very different even at the start of the project. The goal should always be to cover these with as few model variants as possible – ideally even with just one. This facilitates customization, supply of spare parts, expansion with additional devices, as well as maintenance and replacement.
In terms of flexibility, Advantech has some interesting features to show. These include the Flex I/O concept, as implemented for example in the MIC-770 series of industrial PCs, the i-Module Series expansion modules, and the iDoor concept, implemented for example in the MIC-770 and IPC-242 series. The three approaches differ significantly and offer different advantages, but all serve the primary goal of maximum flexibility.
The iDoor concept is based on the Mini PCIe standard. It uses a mini-PCIe card and a PCIe expansion chassis to offer maximum flexibility in interfaces. It ranges from fieldbus modules, sensors, WLAN and mobile radio to the connection of memory, displays and peripheral devices. In total, more than 100 interface combinations can be implemented. Box PCs with a wide variety of extensions can thus be implemented quickly and easily on a standardized device basis.
Flex I/O, for example, is a standard feature of the MIC-770 product series. This involves two additional expansion slots that are always available and can be flexibly equipped: One Small Flex I/O and one Standard Flex I/O. For example, two additional LAN ports, a DVI connection or much more are possible. The advantage is that the expansions can be easily installed at a later date if required. And they complement the iDoor concept.
Advantech offers flexibility in terms of performance requirements through the expansion modules called i-Module Series. The actual industrial PC takes them “piggyback”, so to speak, when it needs additional resources for a specific task, for example an additional graphics card. The advantage of this concept is that companies can use a standardized device platform for different requirements – a “standard computer” defined according to their ideas, which is then used in the field with or without an expansion module, or with suitable expansion modules for different purposes. This is because they supplement the actual industrial PC as needed, but do not change its basic configuration.
The right industrial PC for your automation project
One thing in advance: There is no such thing as the right industrial PC for a particular task – there are several ways to reach the goal. But there is the right decision: It weights the requirements in such a way that performance, functions, investment security and costs are in the best possible ratio to each other. Aaronn Electronic supports here thanks to years of experience in the realization of different projects with advice on all these aspects in each case in the interest of the customer. To this end, Aaronn can draw on a wide range of products from its technology partners.
High performance without fans
When high performance without a fan is required, the Advantech MIC-770 series is a great choice. With 65 watts TDP, it is able to accommodate up to i7 CPUs (8th and 9th generation) and thus provide high computing power in environments where a fan is out of the question. Interfaces include VGA, HDMI, 2 x Gigabit LAN, 2x USB 3.1 and 6 x USB 3.0, 2 RS-232/422/485 ports. Inside the compact system there is room for a 2.5-inch mass storage device (HDD or SSD) and there is an mSATA slot. Expandability is ensured by the two Flex I/O modules.
Caption: The two Flex IO slots at the bottom edge of the housing of the MIC-770 series industrial PCs provide easy interface flexibility.
The range is supplemented by the MIC-770 V2 series, which also supports 10th generation Intel processors and thus offers new possibilities for current projects with performance-hungry applications.
Wide range of functional extensions
The Advantech MIC-7700 series of fanless industrial PCs also accommodates 6th and 7th generation Core-i desktop CPUs. Thus, they fulfill current requirements, but also still offer support for Windows 7, if that is needed.
Caption: The Advantech MIC-7700 series can be functionally expanded particularly easily and flexibly with the i-module concept.
This is especially true due to the extensive, functional expansion options with the i-module concept. Here, expansions with one to four slots are available that support PCI as well as PCIe x4 to x16. With the i-module concept, the same compact industrial PC can be configured in different performance classes and provides users with a high level of investment security.
Interface expansion in the quartet
Caption: A special feature of the Advantech UNO-2484G-7 box PC platform is an additional chassis with up to four iDoor extensions – creating particular flexibility in interface combinations.
The Advantech UNO-2484G-7 box PC platform features a dockable second aluminum chassis in the same size. It provides four iDoor extensions. This easily provides a demand-driven and diverse interface selection. The equipment also includes an Intel Core processor (i7/i5/i3), 8 GB DDR4 memory, as interfaces 4 x Gigabit LAN, 4 x USB 3.0, 4 x 232/422/485, as well as HDMI and DisplayPort. Mounting on the DIN rail is optionally possible via Aaronn.
Box PCs with Intel 10th-Gen Xeon CPUs
Caption: BOX PCs ARK-3532B and ARK-3532C offer modern server processors.
The two BOX PCs ARK-3532B and ARK-3532C offer modern server processors (10th generation Intel Xeon W Core processors), support for up to three independent displays and up to 54 GB DDR4 memory. They also accommodate four 2.5-inch drives and feature the full range of interfaces out of the box. ARK-3532B comes with two PCIe add-on slots (PCIe x4 and PCIe x16) ARK-3532C offers three add-on slots, two of which are for PCI. So even old cards can still be used on modern hardware. The operation of both BOX-PCs is possible with 12 or 24 volts.
On the safe side with a strong partner
Aaronn and Advantech ensure long-term availability for all industrial PCs offered and pay attention to compliance with strict quality guidelines. In addition, Aaronn’s experts know the requirements of the industry and support the selection of products with the appropriate IP protection classes in each case.
All embedded box PCs suggested by Aaronn for industrial automation have gone through Advantech’s demanding qualification process and are CE, FCC, UL and CCC certified.
Dedicated, local technical design-in support by experienced Aaronn Electronic engineers ensures that even highly customized requirements are reliably implemented – even for small quantities. And by the way, the proven Aaronn motto “What doesn’t fit will be made to fit!” also applies to industrial PCs for automation.
Here you will find all the information about the industrial PCs for automation in the industry: https://www.aaronn.de/en/industrial-pcs-for-automation/
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