An industrial computer is a specific type of computing system engineered to manage a variety of factory and industrial workloads for machine automation, manufacturing equipment and new-age autonomous robotics. One major benefit from industrial computers is the ability to operate with high reliability in the harshest industrial environments. Most industrial computers share rugged design concepts that utilize fanless cooling technology, cableless connections to eliminate moving parts, and resistance to some level of dust and water intrusion. These key characteristics are some of the greatest advantages for industrial computers because it provides stability and efficiency for many industrial automation deployments that are unable to afford downtime.
An Industrial Computers is different from a commercial desktop computer in very specific ways due to its deployment use cases. Although the internal components may seem like ordinary desktop computer components, (CPU, Memory, Storage); but an industrial computer is very different in its distinct rugged design features that are engineered for reliability and precision in industrial automation machines. There are many design features that are integral to the performance and stability of industrial computers that you should compare and evaluate to ensure the best total cost of ownership when integrating computing hardware:
Enclosure form factor: It is common for industrial computers to undergo harsh factory conditions where exposure to wide temperatures, vibration, and voltage spikes can cause harm to a general computer. Therefore, industrial computers have internal components made from alloy materials that are strong enough to withstand high temperatures and vibrations. Most external enclosures feature a robust aluminum chassis that acts as a heat sink that transfers heat away from critical internal components like the central processing unit, memory, and storage.
Industrial Grade Components: Industrial computers will often times feature industrial grade components that have been tested and validated to operate in harsh industrial environments. Everything from the PCB motherboard to the electrical soldered capacitors are specifically chosen and integrated into a final industrial computer design that is ready for mass deployment in factory settings.
Protection from Dust and particulate intrusion: Industrial computers are designed specifically for deployment in areas such as factory automation or mining processes where dust and foreign debris is often a common companion. Therefore, industrial computers are designed with rugged design features that eliminate the need for cooling vents, preventing dust and other particulates in harsh environments to jeopardize the computer and its functionality.
Extreme temperature: Many industrial applications require computers capable of withstanding extreme operating temperatures. Since computers with fans are subject to failure from dust contamination, these specialized computers are designed with a fanless system architecture that utilizes heat sinks and heat pipes to maintain wide operable temperatures. This allows industrial computers to function in harsh environments and where temperatures is often uncontrollable. For example, computers in industrial use cases can support operating temperatures from –40C to 70C (-40F to 158F), allowing functionality in both extreme cold and hot applications.