In this article:
- What is an Industrial Computer?
- Extreme conditions
- Powerful components
- Longer lifespans
- Manufacturing industry
- Food and beverage processing
- Healthcare environment
- Automotive industry
- Aerospace industry
- Defence sector
What is an Industrial Computer?
At its simplest, an industrial PC (IPC) is a computer designed for industrial use. That means that it can provide industrial automation in a wide range of temperatures, has enhanced durability and often includes features specifically designed for industrial applications such as process control and data acquisition.
Designed for easy integration into larger systems and to operate in harsh environments that ordinary computers would not cope with.
In manufacturing and industrial applications, industrial computers must withstand extreme temperatures, shock and vibration, dust, electromagnetic interference and other harsh conditions. They typically have robust construction and features that make them resistant to damage from shock and vibration and dust proof. Some industrial computers also have sealed enclosures that protect against liquids and contaminants. Others are able to withstand electromagnetic interference.
In addition, these types of computers usually have more powerful components than commercial PCs, providing high performance and making them better suited for demanding applications.
IPCs are available in several form factors, from small embedded computers to large-scale rack-mounted systems. And while they share many features with consumer-grade computers, IPCs are designed to meet the specific needs of industrial users.
An industrial computer typically has a longer lifespan than a commercial PC and often comes with an extended warranty and support services.
In many cases, they also offer expanded I/O and communication capabilities to support the specific needs of industrial automation applications.
There are many different types of industrial PCs on the market and they all share one common goal: to provide reliable computing in demanding environments.
What Industries are Industrial Computers Used in?
IPCs applied within manufacturing, food and beverage processing, healthcare, automotive, aerospace and defence, are designed to withstand harsh environments and meet the demanding needs of these industries.
Manufacturers need to be able to rely on their equipment to keep up with demand. That’s why industrial computers control and monitor factory machinery and machine tools, keeping production lines moving smoothly.
They can also be applied to track inventory levels, ensuring that raw materials are always available when needed.
In addition, industrial computers can be applied to run quality control tests on finished products, helping to ensure that only the best products reach consumers. Manufacturing plants frequently use industrial computers to control and monitor production line machinery.
By streamlining production and quality control processes, an industrial computer can help keep factories running smoothly and efficiently, allowing a higher degree of factory automation.
An industrial computer designed to withstand tough conditions and heavy use, makes it ideal for use in factories and other industrial settings regardless of environmental factors. In addition, an industrial computer typically has a longer lifespan than consumer computers.
An industrial PC can be custom-built to meet the specific needs of the manufacturing industry. From hardware and software customisation to enhanced security features, industrial computers are designed to help manufacturers boost efficiency and productivity.
Food and beverage processing
Food and beverage processing involves a lot of machines and equipment where time is of the essence where products need to be processed quickly and efficiently to meet consumer demand.
Industrial computers are equipped with powerful processors and large amounts of memory, making them ideal for circumstances that require high-speed data processing. They can be integrated into existing production lines, allowing food and beverage processors to maximise their efficiency and productivity. As the demand for processed food and beverages continues to grow, industrial computers will play an essential role in meeting this demand.
Industrial computers are tough and durable, able to withstand the harsh environment of a factory floor and easy to clean, with sealed enclosures that protect against the dust and water ingress that would otherwise result in an environment like this, allowing them to be sanitised to a high standard and kept hygienic without affecting the performance of the machinery.
Food and beverage processing facilities often use industrial computers to track inventory and manage production schedules, often with robust connectivity options, allowing their integration into existing production line systems for 24/7 operation.
Manufacturers can also keep track of production in real time, making changes as needed to ensure quality and safety. Industrial computers can be used to create virtual model of the production process, which can help identify bottlenecks and optimise workflow.
Using industrial computers, food and beverage processors can gain a competitive edge by reducing costs and improving efficiency.
There are many reasons industrial computers are deployed within food and beverage processing, but ultimately it comes down to their reliability, durability and connectivity. With an industrial computer, food and beverage processors can be confident that it will keep running even in the most challenging conditions.
Industrial PCs are well-suited for a variety of applications in the healthcare industry, often used in medical devices, patient monitors and other equipment where reliability and safety are paramount.
There are many reasons why industrial computers are used in the healthcare industry. They are incredibly reliable and rugged and can withstand the conditions in harsh environments, designed to run 24/7. This is important in an industry where uptime is critical.
An industrial computer can withstand shocks and vibrations and are available with features like antimicrobial housings that help to reduce the spread of infection. It is typically a more affordable, cost-effective solution for healthcare applications in comparison to commercial-grade PCs and can be used for everything from patient records management to medical equipment maintenance.
Industrial computers offer a wide range of features and options meaning them well-suited for use in healthcare settings when equipped with medical-grade displays, touch screens and other specialised peripherals, whilst offering extensive data storage and security features in an industry where sensitive patient information is handled.
One of the most important uses for an industrial computer is in medical imaging. X-rays, MRIs and CT scans all produce large amounts of data that need to be stored and processed.
An industrial computer is well-suited for this task, as it can easily handle the large files involved. Mobile carts equipped with an industrial computer make it easy for radiologists to review images bedside, a critical time-saver in medical emergencies.
Rugged industrial PCs and laptops Industrial PCs are well suited to use in the automotive industry. They are typically more durable than consumer-grade PCs, with features such as dust-resistant enclosures and enhanced thermal management.
In addition, an industrial PC often has higher-performing hardware, which is important for applications that require high computing power, such as automotive design and simulation. It also tends to be more modular and scalable, making it easier to integrate the operating system into larger automotive production systems.
Finally, many industrial PC manufacturers offer specialised software packages that are tailored for use in the automotive industry, such as vehicle diagnostics and fleet management tools. These are just some of the many good reasons why industrial PCs are widely used in the automotive industry for quality control and assembly line operations.
An industrial computer is purpose-built to operate in extreme environments to withstand the rigours of dust, temperature swings, and vibration and is often used in the aerospace industry, where they play a critical role in mission-critical applications.
One example is aircraft flight data recorders, which rely on a industrial computer to store large amounts of data in a secure and rugged environment. Industrial computers are also used for aircraft engine control and navigation systems.
Mission-critical applications require reliable computing power and up-to-the-minute accuracy, making industrial computers an essential part of the aerospace industry.
Industrial computers can be used for a variety of tasks, including flight control, aircraft maintenance, and communication.
Flight control systems use industrial computers to process data and provide information to pilots.
Aircraft maintenance systems use industrial computers to track maintenance schedules and history.
Communication systems use industrial computers to manage communications between aircraft and ground crews.
Industrial computers offer a number of advantages for these applications, including reliability, processing power and flexibility. They have become an essential part of the aerospace industry.
In the defence sector, a variety of applications, including command and control, logistics management and sensor data processing, use industrial computers. Industrial computers offer a number of advantages for defence applications, including their ability to operate in extreme conditions, their high level of ruggedisation, and their flexible configurations. An industrial computer can be used to connect disparate systems and process large amounts of data in real-time.
The defence sector continues to be reliant on technology, with industrial computers playing an essential role in enabling military organisations to achieve their objectives.