Industrial Computer Hardware

Quad-monitor thin client applications from Pepperl+Fuchs

October 2020 Industrial Computer Hardware

The control room is the hub for production, planning and process control. Using established thin client technology from Pepperl+Fuchs, production statuses are transmitted to multiple monitors in real time so that all plant data can be monitored and operators can respond quickly. With digital DisplayPorts, the BTC14 facilitates optimal visualisation of process parameters and production figures on up to four monitors to ensure an optimal overview of process information.

Uncompromising reliability

No company can afford failures in the control room. With this in mind, users focus particularly on the reliability of hardware and software. To meet these high requirements, reliability was a focal point for the BTC14 during the development stages. This new generation of reliable and rugged computers has been specially designed for harsh conditions and 24/7 operation in industrial environments. The design is based on thin client technology, which allows users to access data and information that runs on centralised servers, and thereby represents the user interface. Packaged in a compact aluminium housing, the device is passively cooled and easily withstands temperatures from -20°C to 60°C.

Users can also rely on the BTC14 when it comes to system stability. With its dual Gigabit Ethernet interfaces, it supports network redundancy of the control systems.

Increased physical security

In addition to maximum reliability and guaranteed long-term availability, all aspects regarding security are crucial. It is important to look at all factors, from solutions such as antivirus and firewall systems, to additional protection that can be handled by the hardware. Completely enclosed housings – such as the IP4x housing of the BTC14 – provide protection from the environment.

Installing the equipment such that it is hidden or enclosed can protect it from being accessed by third parties. This prevents unauthorised access to devices and minimises the possibility of viruses being introduced. A variety of installation kits for the BTC14 give users a wide range of installation options, while the rugged design and increased operating temperature range maximise the number of areas in which the BTC14 can be installed. It can easily be stored in drawers or containers with a guaranteed circulation of air.

Especially in the case of vibration, there is a risk that unsecured connectors will work loose. With the BTC14, all interfaces can be mechanically protected, preventing disconnection and guaranteeing secure cable connections.

Low maintenance and administrator involvement

Individual employees now take control of entire automation lines. Devices that are easy to integrate and use in the control room have a major impact on the amount of effort required on the part of individuals.

All box thin clients from Pepperl+Fuchs and thin-client-based workstations with industry-standard touchscreen displays – remote monitors (RMs) – are equipped with specially developed thin client firmware based on Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSB: the Windows version of Microsoft with long-term support.

RM Shell 5 thin client technology – patented for use in hazardous areas – is already in its fifth generation and is seen as the pioneer of its kind. The preinstalled RM Shell 5 firmware not only allows simple and intuitive configuration and commissioning of BTCs and RMs, but is also optimised and preconfigured for use with conventional process control systems used in process automation. Creating a profile allows direct access to virtualised workstations and servers with just one click. Even if a connection is interrupted, e.g. due to a power failure, the devices can automatically re-establish the connection when the ‘Auto-Connect’ function is configured. The system settings allow for an unlimited number of connections to be re-established, and multiple backup connections can be set up if the connection to the actual host fails. After a predefined wait time, the BTC/RM then connects to the backup connection. All activated devices within a network can be set up, configured, and monitored from a central workspace, eliminating the need to make time-consuming journeys to individual devices.


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