For different applications, different industrial computers are needed. Advantech provides its highly-integrated and flexible iDoor technology for users who need customized solutions. Flexible and agile iDoor technology creates more diverse automation applications in a short period of time.
Application diversity is a characteristic of embedded systems. Any automation-related application, such as financial services, healthcare, retail, construction, manufacturing and so on uses embedded systems. Because, different applications require different kinds of industrial computers, this presents a dilemma for manufacturers; i.e. how to meet the needs of customers whilst delivering customized products within the shortest time.
Ren-Jie Zhang, the Assistant Manager of Advantech Industrial Automation Group, indicated that from internal sales statistics, there is great demand for customized products. Unfortunately the market response was slow due to a lack of resources, manpower, and many other factors. Therefore, Advantech tried to find ways to improve this situation. According to market research reports, the demands for customized industrial computers are roughly divided into the following three categories: The first is basic customization, such as changing logos, stickers, colors, labels, and so on, which is simple and easy with fast delivery time. The second is moderate customization, which has the highest demand: to add or modify certain features of standard products, such as adding a LAN port. The third is highly-modified customization: standard products must be re designed and manufactured because they cannot completely meet customer demands.
The biggest challenge for Advantech is how to meet the above requirements without changing mechanical design drastically, to create the greatest customization flexibility, and to speed up product delivery time. After much research and discussion, Advantech developed iDoor technology which offers a high degree of integration with rapid market response. iDoor technology is the new weapon of Advantech IPC.
Standardization, Optimization, Integration
iDoor emphasizes integration and product flexibility, allowing users to configure their I/O requirements according to their needs. In order to achieve this goal, iDoor needs the following three characteristics.
First, the interface and color standardization: iDoor uses a mini PCIe interface embedded on the motherboard. According to the current market trends, mini PCIe can have many add-on functions, and also meet the needs of the Fieldbus protocol. As for color, iDoor complies with the color convention of Fieldbus protocol, which is easy to recognize and more intuitive. In addition, Advantech also provides a variety of functional modules with their representative colors.
Second, size optimization: the iDoor size is 81 x 19.4 mm, suitable for Advantech’s various platforms such as embedded box PC, industrial tablet PC with touch interface, and so on.
Third, the integration of multiple functions: Customers can decide functions for themselves. iDoor application modes include:
- Fieldbus protocol: like Ethernet/IP, Profibus, Profinet, EtherCAT, and Powerlink. The I/O module extending from the Mini PCIe can be used as a Fieldbus.
- Used as an expansion of the Memory/Storage: To connect the motherboard with iDoor via Mini PCIe interface, serving as a redundant memory or storage to reduce the risk of system malfunction.
- Digital / Analog I/O: To embed plug-in digital or analog I/O modules in the industrial computer via iDoor (e.g., Advantech ADAM modules). It is very convenient for users who only need a small number of I/O points, and can also reduce system installation costs and space.
- Communications WAN / MAN / LAN: To integrate iDoor into Wi-Fi/GPS/GPRS/LTE modules with Mini PCIe interface, and to put an antenna on the chassis; thus, industrial computers can have wireless transmission.
- Connecting to different sensing modules like temperature, brightness, smart meters, and others.
Highly Flexible and Agile
iDoor not only provides different types of I/O via Mini PCIe interface, but also extends the motherboard features without taking up space in the chassis. Take the CFast memory card as an example. In the past, the CF slot took up a lot of space in the chassis, so when customers needed to customize, they could only stack embedded computers because of the limited space. They had to re-adjust or design the chassis, and therefore delay the delivery time. With iDoor technology, the I/O of the CFast card can be directly put on to iDoor and connect to the motherboard SATA interface, providing greater possibilities for applications.
Therefore, iDoor flexibility is not only used to expand I/O, but also to extend motherboard features. Advantech fully respects the different needs of customers and customers can use their expertise to tailor different application systems and to create their own unique market differences.
For system integrators, in addition to those application modes mentioned above, iDoor allows customers to develop their own MiniPCIe card, their own exclusive iDoor functions, and even iDoor shell colors (eg: combining company Logo), to shape their brand image through color recognition. For those key accounts, they can integrate industry expertise in automation applications via iDoor. Because iDoor is so flexible, even if there will be further expansions in the future, users do not have to worry about compatibility. Advantech iDoor technology makes products better able to respond to customer needs and create value with customers through product development, thereby creating more diverse automation applications.