Industrial computers have been around almost as long as the desktop PC. Arguably the first mainstream computer designed for industrial use was the IBM 5531 released in 1985 and since then industrial PCs have become commonplace and are used throughout industry controlling processes and/or data acquisition.
Industrial PCs are designed to be rugged and withstand many of the harmful elements found in industrial locations. Many industrial PCs are solid state, meaning they have no moving parts and often are known as industrial panel PCs as they have a display incorporated into the computer making it a single device.
Touch screens are commonplace amongst industrial PCs too as they implement both an input and output device in one unit and are far more robust than standard display devices.
There are however, drawbacks in using industrial PC’s one of the problem with industrial PC is that they are often solid state can cannot be repaired or upgraded by users. If the device goes down often whatever process the computer was controlling has to be stopped until a service engineer arrives to fix the problem.
For this reason, industrial PCs are built to be as reliable as possible. One way the manufacturers do this is to uses tried and tested components. Often the components in an industrial PC are selected for their reliability rather than performance and while this means there is less chance of a break down in the industrial computer, it does mean that most industrial PC’s are using technology that was surpassed nearly a decade ago by conventional PC’s.
Obviously some processes require more computing power than others and often industrial PC’s are not up to the task they have been built for. A solution to these problems is to use conventional PC equipment such as a standard desktop. These can be encased in an industrial computer enclosure. These enclosures protect the standard PC from the harmful elements in the industrial environment including dust, water, heavy impacts and extreme temperatures meaning that these PC enclosures can be used anywhere where a conventional industrial PC is used.
Not only does this means you can select what technology you want the computer to run with if there are any problems the computer enclosure can be opened and the internal PC repaired or replaced without having to wait for a service engineer.