Extreme design for fixed unit industrial PCs

The computing needs of industry have been developing, becoming more complex and specialised throughout the last decade, with a dramatically changing industrial and commercial computing landscape. The need for small scale, rugged, embedded computing systems is now present in a range of different sectors with a range of different uses in government, commercial, industrial and scientific applications.

Many instances in industry require a computer that is dedicated to handling a specific task. Such machines can allow design engineers to optimize an embedded computer for certain applications and environments, taking advantage of reduced size combined with increased reliability and performance.

Today, so many applications require compact highly reliable or rugged embedded systems that can withstand shock and vibration, wide temperature ranges and dusty environments.

Hence the need for rugged industrial PCs with modern processors and mobile chipsets that feature high processing power and low power requirements. Machines like this allow Industrial PC designers to develop a range of off-the-shelf embedded computers with reduced case sizes and passive cooling systems.

Typical uses for industrial rugged PCs include transportation applications such as Rail Track Routing Systems, Marine Navigation, Aircraft and In-Vehicle computers, and Mining Applications such as Heavy Vehicle and Machine Control, Environmental Monitoring and Communications.

Industrial rugged PCs are also well suited to Process Control applications such as Chemical, Pharmaceutical and Food production, and Commercial applications such as Digital Signage, Video Wall Displays, Vending Machines, Kiosk and Ticketing Machines, Security and Surveillance Systems, and Medical applications that require life critical systems.

This type of ruggedized PC is commonly known as a box PC, or stand-alone embedded controller. These rugged systems are usually housed in an extruded aluminium case that, with moulded fins, doubles in functionality as a passive heat sink.

The built-in heat sink means the PC unit can be much smaller, and do away with conventional moving parts such as cooling fans, which are prone to breaking down in extreme conditions, right when you need the PC to function most.

With state of the art mobile processors and chipsets designed for the laptop market and an over-sized passive cooling system, this type of rugged, fanless embedded PC is computationally powerful, while maintaining a very small and unobtrusive footprint.

Because of this compact design, you can mount a box PC almost anywhere. They can be bolted to bench tops, floors and walls and mounted inside cabinets, whether in trucks, caravans or to fixed plant. The smaller units can also be DIN rail mounted.

In addition, the fanless design reduces the possibility of airborne corrosive or conductive materials entering the system, which increases long-term reliability in harsh environments.

For more information about ruggedized PCs, visit the Interworld Electronics website at ieci.com.au or call (03) 9593 7555.

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