What is an Industrial Computer?
An industrial computer, also known as an IPC, is designed for tasks that are unique and focused on a particular purpose. Because IPCs are primarily used outside an office setting, they are built with more robust components than consumer/office products, are designed to last longer, and provide options for commercial, industrial, and harsh environments.
Many industrial computers are “fanless” to limit the amount of dust and particles being introduced to the internal components, thereby extending device life. Heat is dissipated through internal heat sinks connected to larger external heat sink fins.
Components are more robust with larger solders and thicker substrates. Vibration and shock ratings are typically reported as a routine specification. External chassis are designed to respond to temperature changes and movement. There are multiple mounting options, and some are designed to support vibration and shock isolation.
Conformal coatings can add electronic and dust protection. Chassis can shut out dust, resist water, or allow for underwater operation. The variety of size is reflective of the wide variety of industrial uses.
An industrial computer does not have to be tuff. Computers with targeted sophistication with purpose-built components are used in surveillance systems, factory floors, and warehouse robotics. Some look like a traditional desktop or rack system, but the components, input/output ports, and compute power are nothing like an office desktop.
Some monitors are also industrial grade and, when combined with a computer, are called Panel PCs. These are common in manufacturing plants, data control points, and operation locations. Some are highly ruggedized and can be cleaned with harsh chemicals and firehose strength jets of liquid.
Small industrial computers located “at the edge” are possible due to their rugged design, low energy consumption, increased reliability, and enhanced performance. The possibilities for AI (Artificial Intelligence) inference and execution are quickly expanding based on the industrial computer class of hardware.