Industrial Computer Hardware

All-in-one operating solutions for use in the field

April 2021 Industrial Computer Hardware

Industrial PCs are indispensable in factory automation. In times of increasing digitalisation, they take care of a variety of tasks. That is why it is important that the devices can be easily installed, operated, and extended, support state-of-the-art communications technologies, and also work reliably under harsh conditions – just like the AIO product family from Phoenix Contact does.

Faced with ever-growing challenges involving Industry 4.0, companies are looking for features which will make their machines and systems stand out against solutions from competitors. In addition, the concepts should be able to be integrated easily and quickly into the existing production systems of factory automation. Many manufacturers have identified optimisation of the operating terminals as a possible starting point toward overcoming the extreme challenges, for example with regard to data transmission in the gigabit range, or use of the Profinet protocol for communication. Moreover, the display and controls need to be able to be arranged flexibly, be extendable, and also be able to withstand the harsh industrial ambient conditions.

Powerful processors in the fanless design

State-of-the-art and graphics-intensive visualisations require powerful CPUs to ensure smooth operation. Therefore, the new AIO devices contain Intel Core i5 processors so that they are particularly suitable for demanding tasks, such as those that arise in machine control, process visualisation, quality assurance, or data acquisition. Despite the high-performing CPUs, the panel PCs are passively cooled. In other words, they are designed to be completely fanless, which increases their range of applications and the system availability. Moreover, they require significantly less maintenance, and the noise from the fan is also eliminated.

In addition, the industrial PCs in the AIO product family work exclusively with Intel roadmap processors which have been on the market for a long time and have low power loss. Using them ensures a device that is compatible with its function over a time period of many years. Nevertheless, if there are updates or other adaptations that are pending, the person in charge of the setup can still carry out all the necessary installation and maintenance measures using the IP65-protected USB port.

Mounting options for every application

As already mentioned, the AIO devices have a completely closed aluminium die-cast housing in the IP65 degree of protection, which is why there is no need for an additional enclosure or a control cabinet installed on the machine. Furthermore, the panel PCs are equipped with a VESA-100 mounting hole on the rear of the housing. This allows it to be attached directly to the machine or the system, for example to a VESA wall bracket. If assembly on a supporting arm or a pedestal is required, then a suitable back cover for the housing is also available.

The compact dimensions are an additional advantage of the AIO family. The series has a depth of just 100 millimetres. Large and expensive enclosures or control cabinets, which are particularly needed for large widescreen displays, and the resulting installation by two employees are therefore a thing of the past. This reduces the costs for mounting significantly.

Many extension options in one operating terminal

In the AIO product family, the well-thought-out design and the associated offerings from Phoenix Contact do not just end at operator panels. If desired, the industrial PC user can add a keypad module, which allows for the integration of up to eleven buttons or switches. The buttons can be used for USB connections, key switches, or other functions. Even an emergency stop or selector switch can be integrated directly into the operating concept. Gaps that are not needed can be used later, or simply remain unused.

If the user would like to integrate the operating solution (including the keypad module) in an existing Profinet network, there is a gigabit-capable switch with Profinet and Profisafe functions available to forward the data. And if a signal tower is to be mounted to the machine or system, it can be added into the operating concept without problems. In addition, Phoenix Contact offers a complete operating terminal, including pedestal, keyboard, mouse and internal wiring.


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