Computing plays an indispensable role in the modern economy. In the world of industry, they’re often tasked with controlling and monitoring other kinds of machinery, as well as other aspects of a given facility. But these computers are often very different from the kind you might find in a home or office. They’re highly specialized machines that have been designed to perform a narrow set of tasks very well. You might find them in a factory, or working behind the scenes at an ATM.
What is an industrial PC
An industrial PC should, first and foremost, be able to deal with even the most hostile environment. This typically means that they do their work without the aid of fans. In a dusty environment, a fan-based system might draw huge amounts of dust across the motherboard. As this dust accumulates, it can cause problems with heat performance.
The average industrial PC will instead work via passive cooling. This limits the amount of performance we’re able to extract – but in most cases, this doesn’t matter. The quality of the components will also tend to be much higher, since these machines are often asked to perform continuously, and any downtime might be very costly. You’ll find many of the relevant components in online stores like RS Americas.
Industrial vs Commercial
Let’s run through a few of the specific differences between a traditional office or gaming machine, and the industrial counterpart.
For one thing, industrial machines tend to come in steel cases that are easily rack-mounted. This helps to reduce clutter, particularly in environments where lots of other rackmount equipment is being used. The standard for the 19” rack is widespread in a variety of industries, and is likely to be with us for years to come.
Industrial machines tend to be highly configurable in a way that commercial machines are not. The former are often built from the ground up to perform a very specific role. This means that performance can be driven up, since we don’t need to waste any computational resources running a bulky operating system.
Commercial machines, by contrast, are more generalized. They need to be able to perform a variety of tasks, and this lack of specialization often leads to inferior performance.
With that said, industrial machines are often built for purpose. If you need a particular I/O capability on your machine, such as the ability to hot-swap storage drives, then a machine can be tailored to your requirements.
Uses for industrial PCs
Industrial PCs are used just about everywhere. Whether the business is a factory or a fast-food restaurant, the chances are food that there are industrial PCs working behind the scenes. You might also find them in healthcare, in auto shops, in aerospace, and in defense.