A New Standard for a New Generation of Industrial Computers

Posted by Kari Grosser on Jul 6, 2017 9:15:00 AM

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In recent years, driven by trends in Industry 4.0 and intelligent factories, manufacturers have expanded the depth and breadth of automation equipment to meet a whole new range of targets. Consequently, increased development of automatic control systems were required to satisfy market needs.

Currently, the smart phone segment is the IT industry's highest value sector. Before leaving the factory, every smart phone must have its software updated and hardware tested. However, if an operator were required to manually test and update every phone individually, the entire production line would grind to a halt. Instead, operators needed to be able to test several smart phones simultaneously - but how?

Manufacturing Demands Have Gradually Diversified

Advantech noted that the adoption of automation control has accelerated in recent years. Considering current development, automation equipment has two main applications. One is assembly movement control. This application of automation technology is focused on motion control, which involves the use of rapid and highly accurate robotic arms and shafts to accelerate production line speed, optimize yield and throughput, and reduce resource costs. The second application of automation technology is machine vision, with emphasis on detection and positioning. The machine vision operational framework involves using industrial cameras to capture images that are transmitted to an industrial computer for analysis.

With the increasing use of automation systems, and the rapid increase in the introduction of machine vision, there are more and more types of items being tested using high accuracy video, therefore, the resolution of the industrial cameras is rapidly rising and the image files returned by high-pixel cameras naturally require more storage area. So the traditional back-end systems are insufficient for these high-speed production lines. Industrial computers must be improved synchronously so that the whole system can perform accurate, real-time accurate analysis of all production targets, which is essential to the whole automation control system.

With the demand for production systems becoming diversified, automation equipment must deliver high-performance, small size, and flexible design, so the MIC-7500 compact fanless system was recently launched by Advantech to meet such needs. Machine vision technology has been recently launched by Advantech to meet such needs. Machine vision technology has been with us for a long time and there are several trends in machine vision. One of them is the increasing number of virtualization technologies; another in the increasing number of core processors and their speed. The MIC-7500 uses Intel's Core i framework. Core i is designed for high performance, so it successfully meets these demands. In addition, Advantech is also developing multi-core products, different from Core i with up to 4 cores. The maximum number of multi-cores is 12. The low-core and high-core systems meet the requirements of different types of machine vision systems.

Manufacturing automation control systems have similar demands in terms of power consumption, processor, memory, etc., but different demands for extensibility. Because the number of cameras, communication interface, and I/O vary widely, these variations must be designed into the product.. The MIC-7500 allows for different interface slots with variable expansion options built in to meet customer needs.

i-Modules Make the System More Flexible

To meet extensibility requirements, Advantech designed the MIC-7500 i-Module, which consists of the MIC-7500 plus an i-Module. Customers can select the appropriate i-Module, with slot and function card in accordance with their particular needs.

i-Module brings two resilient design advantages to system integrators and manufacturers. The first is that manufacturers can freely select the instruction cycle and slot type for the processor of the equipment. The second is that the customization design time can be shortened from what used to take a whole year down to just three months. Because industrial computers typically have a certain amount of customization needs, this type of demand lies mainly in the choice of slot. The slot of traditional industrial computers is fixed and changing the design affects everything. i-Modules separate the processor and the slot with PCI Express as the bus, which allows customers to quickly adjust the equipment to meet customer demands. System integrators can get their products ready for testing in a very short time.

The MIC-7500 is designed for automation control equipment with machine vision. Its application mainly focuses on PCB detection and electronic assembly, such as for smart phones. So going back to our initial problem, how do operators update and test 20 smart phone at the same time? Simple, design twenty USB ports on an i-Module equipped with a high-speed multi-core processor that supports synchronous multi-tasking.

Advantech points out that with the rapid expansion of automation technology, there will be expanding demands in the future, but small size, flexibility and high performance will be continuing goals for automation equipment. Advantech will continue to observe the market and strengthen the different functions of the MIC-7500 to help customers quickly develop appropriate optimized systems.

Topics: Modular IPC

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