Whether developing a consumer-facing kiosk or creating smart factory machinery, today's automation designers and engineers are faced with a wide variety of hardware platforms to choose from. Different platforms are suited for varying ranges of roles, but it is crucial to understand where each family of devices plays best so the right selection can be made for each application.
Since personal computers (PCs) are so prevalent worldwide and have been for decades, it is natural for many consumers to expect PCs are directly integrated into much of the world's automation and monitoring systems. And indeed, there is a specific industrialized version of the PC called an industrial PC (IPC) which fills this role.
Of course, there are other possible automation platform solutions as dedicated microcontrollers, or commercially available programmable logic controllers (PLCs). Various combinations of these devices may provide the best result in some applications, but this White Paper will focus on those instances where an IPC is the best fit.
Automation controllers and computers of any type are required tp accomplish a variety of tasks. They might simply monitor input signals, or may in turn have control logic activating output signals. Some may interact with users via simple operator controls like buttons and lights, while others may need to have a more advanced graphical display, much like a computer monitor. They may be called upon to log data or perform advanced calculations. These systems may be standalone, but industry-wide developments concerning the Internet of Things (IoT) means it is increasingly important for any new systems to be both smart and networkable.
As with any design problems, it is essential to define goals. In this case, the main drivers for selecting automation controllers and computers typically boil down to the installation environment, the require functional performance, and the associated connectivity options. It goes without saying that cost is always a consideration. Oftentimes selecting a single device that accomplishes the greatest number of goals can result in the most cost-effective solution.
This White Paper will examine the pros and cons of various automation platform technologies to identify where an IPC offers the best fit. For many applications, this technology brings together just the right combination of characteristics to be the optimum solution for intelligent automation. Not only that, but IPCs are uniquely poised to enable the smart factory by bridging operations technology (OT) with information technology (IT) systems. We'll start by looking at what key aspects define an industrial PC.
In this White Paper:
What Makes a PC Industrial
IPCs Overcome Microcontroller and PLC Shortcomings