Industrial automation is transforming many industries and the way companies work by automating processes and improving them via the use of technology. The huge potential of automation makes it a top priority for businesses to adopt it. Up to 50 percent of work functions today can be automated without replacing legacy equipment and machinery.
However, some industries face a greater challenge when implementing automation, particularly the heavy industry sector (e.g., utilities, mining, energy, and manufacturing), which is striving to build robust infrastructure, requiring immensely powerful and ultra-durable automation solutions. Among the increasingly popular solutions, industrial panel PCs are widely sought-after within the automation industry due to their ability to consolidate workloads. After reading this article, you will understand what an industrial panel PC is and how essential they are for industry 4.0.
What Is an Industrial Panel PC? (5 Key Features to Better Understand)
An industrial panel PC is a computer that’s built into a flat-screen, multi-touch screen display that is ruggedly built, allowing the entire system to be mounted in places where displays can be mounted. Hence, eliminating extra space to set up a separate PC and external display. Industrial Panel PCs are an excellent alternative to tablets and HMIs due to their extreme durability and ease of integration into existing automation equipment.
In contrast, a tablet’s infrastructure is replaced frequently despite its multi-touch display and various features. Because, when it comes to industrial deployments, tablets are limited in their durability, lacking I/O inputs, lacking mounting abilities, battery power, etc. Similarly, HMIs are constrained by their lack of flexibility.
In the event of downtime, HMIs’ programmable logic controllers (PLCs) are very limited in that they can only be replaced with the same exact part. In contrast, industrial panel PCs are modular, allowing organizations to replace specific parts that fail without replacing the entire device. That said, Premio can provide you with information on how industrial panel PCs create a more efficient and reliable infrastructure that’s easily serviceable. Industrial panel PCs offer extra-durable features and rich versatility I/O inputs. Here are some key features to review when looking to integrate an industrial panel pc into industrial automation deployments.
This blog article will dive deeper, explaining the advantages of industrial panel PCs over tables and HMIs.
Feature #1 - Industrial Touchscreen Panel PCs are Tough
A rugged design is crucial to guarantee the longevity and reduce downtime associated with deploying industrial panel PCs. Industrial panel PCs are able to withstand deployment in volatile environments while operating reliably and optimally. Some important features of rugged panel PCs are that they are equipped with tough display panels, they employ a fanless design, and have military-grade capabilities (extreme temperature resistance, IP rating, shock, and vibration resistance).
Industrial LCD vs. Standard LCD
When choosing an industrial panel PC, choosing an industrial-grade LCD instead of a standard consumer-grade LCD is important for improving the performance of your system and ensuring that it can withstand deployment in harsh environments.
Standard LCDs can’t survive in challenging environments, and for some use cases, they aren’t bright enough, especially when placed in direct sunlight. For the best viewing experience, a display must have a bright screen; standard LCD displays only offer 250 – 350 nits of brightness. Compare this to Premio’s industrial panel PCs, which can be equipped with a panel that offers up to 1000 nits of brightness, making it a perfect option for outdoor deployments.
Premio’s LCD displays combine high brightness and optical bonding technology to dramatically improve readability in outdoor spaces, especially when the display is placed in glaring sunlight. These improvements make industrial panel PCs the ideal solution for deployment in kiosk machines and digital signage that’s deployed outdoors, where they will be exposed to direct sunlight.
Additionally, they are equipped with tough, scratch-resistant glass, which is important and something that you should look for on a rugged panel PC. Premio’s industrial panel PC’s screen glass is harder than most of the LCD screens on the market, ranked 7H for hardness according to the Moh hardness scale. 7H hardness is twice as hard as 6H, which means that the display is harder than a copper penny, knife plate, or steel nail, making the displays resistant to scratches from hard materials that usually scratch displays.
Another advantage of Premio’s industrial panel PC is the availability of both 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratios within the product lineup. 16:9 widescreen LCD is an ideal complement for FHD (high-definition) content and the most popular option in today’s digital world. However, several sectors within the automation industry are still using legacy software that only supports a 4:3 display ratio, requiring industrial panel pcs to have the same aspect ratio. Since the 4:3 display ratio is harder to find on tablets or HMIs, panel PCs are a much better option for support and reliability. Premio offers industrial panel PCs that are compatible with the 4:3 aspect ratio, as well as a 16:9 aspect ratio, accommodating a variety of industrial automation lines leveraging an all-in-one panel pc.
Feature #2 - Optical Bonding For Industrial Panel Mount PCs
Touchscreen displays in Premio’s industrial panel PC line up can be configured using optical bonding technology to reduce screen reflections and improve the panel PC’s accuracy and durability. In a traditional TFT LCD panel, there is an air gap between the TFT panel and the cover glass, which causes repeat refraction between each layer of the display component in glaring environments. Reducing the inner reflection with optical bonding produces greater contrast and clarity in outdoor or bright conditions without increasing the display’s brightness.
What is Optical Bonding?Optical bonding is executed by applying a thin layer of resin between the glass layer and the TFT panel layer, bonding them together, making a solid laminate without any air gaps between the two layers. This method is often used in military, medical, transportation, and heavyweight sectors where rugged displays are required to withstand harsh environments. With the LCD screen optically bonded, there are a couple of benefits brought by applying this method. Filling the gap between glass and display panel with resin reduces refractions on the screen since light does not get under the screen’s surface, resulting in a much brighter and easy to read display.
Moreover, the display is significantly stronger thanks to the resin layer in optical bonding that fills in the air gaps, making it better able to absorb shocks, increasing the durability of the display. Another obvious benefit of optical bonding is that it physically blocks dust and liquid ingress from entering the gap between the screen’s layers. This prevents condensation that can be a real issue in wet and humid environments. The foggy moisture from condensation can trap inside the gap for a long time, causing blurry images and, in some instances, even electrical damage. Finally, applying resin within the gap can increase touch accuracy because the pressure inside is equally maintained through the substrate, removing touch deviation that may have been caused by an air gap.
Feature #3 - Stay Cool with a Fanless Design
Passively cooling a PC is possible due to an ingenious design that utilizes heatsinks to cool down the internal heat-generating components. The elimination of fans from the system leads to extra durability and greater reliability. Also, the elimination of fans adds ruggedness to the system because there is no need for ventilation holes. Furthermore, the elimination of fans creates a sealed-off system, resulting in a system that is better capable of deployment in environments where it will experience extreme temperatures. Furthermore, the fanless design adds ingress protection from dust and water splashes. Moreover, the elimination of fans produces a system that’s more resistant to shocks and vibrations, thus increasing the mean time between failure (MTBF) of the machine. Also, removing fans creates a more energy-efficient system since there are no fans in the system that need to be powered.
Feature #4 - Wide Operating Temperature Range
The wide operating temperature range of industrial panel PCs offers those deploying them with flexibility in the type of environment in which they can be deployed. They can be deployed either indoors or outdoors. However, LCD displays have a relatively narrow temperature range, which presents challenges for outdoor deployments. Liquid crystal displays (LCD) contained a liquid substance that is housed between two layers of glass. As the temperature drops, the liquid begins to freeze, and when the liquid in the display freezes, the response time to display an image slows down. Standard LCD displays have an operating range between 0℃ and 32℃ and are only suitable for indoor deployments. Therefore, Premio offers a wide variety of panel PCs that can handle deployment in extreme environments where the temperature ranges from a low of -10℃ up to 60℃. For example, Premio’s SIO series of industrial touch panels are capable of being deployed in environments where the temperature reaches -20℃.
Feature #5 - IP Ratings For Industrial Panel Computer Systems
An IP rating measures how resistant a PC is to dust and water, so your industrial panel pc needs to have an IP rating to ensure its longevity and durability, especially when deployed in volatile environments. IP ratings or Ingress Protection is a widely applied standard that indicates the enclosure’s effectiveness to seal out ingress from both liquids and tiny dust particles. This is particularly very important in automaton lines that require hygienic washdowns regularly with high-pressure water jets and cleaning agents.
The first digit of an IP rating ranks the solid ingress protection from huge debris to small particles like dust. The solid ingress’s highest rating is 6, where the internal system is protected against tiny debris and dust particles. The second digit in an IP rating indicates that the internal system is protected against liquids. The highest rating is 9K, meaning the entire system is waterproof and is protected against powerful high-temperature water jets.
It’s important to check out the overall IP rating of an industrial panel PC as it indicates the entire system’s protection from the ingress of dust and water. Premio’s industrial panel PCs come with a respectable IP rating. For example, the VIO series and the WIO series have an IP rating of IP65, which means its dust-tight or no ingress of dust and protected against low-pressure water jets, which makes the systems ideal for deployment in harsh environments, such as food and beverage manufacturing facilities. Premio’s newest product line even reaches a greater extent in ensuring durability. For example, the SIO series has an IP rating that begins from IP66 up to IP69K, which means the system can be submerged in the water while being exposed to high pressure, high-temperature water jets.
The Longevity of Industrial Panel PCs
Furthermore, to ensure longevity, industrial panel PCs should have shock and vibration resistance along with a wide power range. These are essential when searching for industrial panel PCs that are going to be deployed in challenging environments.
Mounting an industrial panel PC on a moving vehicle or heavyweight machine that is subject to constant vibrations and shock is possible thanks to shock and vibration resistance. Premio’s industrial panel PCs can endure vibrations with a resistance of 1.5 GRMs, 5-500 Hz, 0.5 hr/axis and capable of enduring shock for a solid 20G, half sine, 11ms; this shows that it can survive exposure to tough vibrations and hard shocks while still maintaining its performance for a long time.
Additionally, mounting a panel PC onto other systems or machines can pose threats of voltage fluctuation. Industrial panel PCs have a wide voltage range to protect the motherboard and avoid downtime. Firstly, a wide voltage input covers various inputs from different system applications and regions with different power supply voltages ranging from 9~50VDC. Also, systems come with overvoltage protection (OVP) and over current protection (OCP) to prevent current fluctuation up to 55V. Without these power protection features, the internal components can be damaged from power input surges.
Feature #6 - FCC & CE Certifications – EMI Compliance
When choosing an industrial panel PC, it is vital to ensure there is no electromagnetic interference (EMI) emitted by the device that can be harmful to worker safety, environmental safety, and other nearby machines. Premio’s industrial panel PCs comes with FCC and CE certifications that are well accepted around the world to ensure that the level of electromagnetic interference emitted from the device is based on the limit range that is approved by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), meeting the health, safety, and environmental protection standards for Conformité Européenne (EC). Additionally, these certifications ensure you can smoothly operate Premio’s industrial panel PCs anywhere around the world.
Feature #7 - The versatility of an Industrial Panel PC
Industrial panel PCs are not only more durable than other tablets and HMIs, but they are also more versatile due to their rich I/O, touchscreen displays, and mounting options that are far better than those provided by tablets and HMIs. More importantly, the modular design of Premio’s industrial panel PCs offers a great advantage over similar competitor products.
Tablets and HMIs are very limited when it comes to I/O inputs, where industrial panel PCs are rich in I/O inputs and outputs. Premio’s industrial panel PCs are equipped with a wide array of customizable I/O sets from VGA, serial ports, independent display ports, digital I/O, and general-purpose I/O, USB port type A, PoE/multiple-Lan RJ45 up to M12 connectors, and PCIe slots. With these I/O options, Premio’s industrial panel PCs can deliver the versatile and flexible features necessary during IoT workload consolidation.
Unlike legacy HMIs that use PLCs for their input system, industrial panel PCs feature highly responsive touchscreens that increase convenience and flexibility on production floors. Industrial panel PCs offer two types of touch features, resistive touch and capacitive touch. Additionally, touchscreens provide a streamlined design for a cleaner look and more hygienic architecture since there are no buttons or gaps that can trap dirt that you’ll have to clean.
We will now discuss the difference between resistive touch vs. capacitive touch displays.
Resistive touch is a touchscreen that relies on the pressure from your fingertips or other objects to apply inputs. Traditional resistive touch is constructed from two flexible layers with an air gap in between. The input methods are registered when pressure is placed on the top part of the layer to depress it enough to make contact with the bottom part layers. Premio industrial panel PCs utilize a true-flat resistive touch by applying PET film (polyester film). It’s very durable, passing the knock test by receiving 10 million times keystrokes, and still performs normally. Moreover, PET film is a high-performance, transparent thermoplastic that has high tensile strength, excellent dimensional stability, low moisture absorption, a wide temperature range, and superior UV resistance.
Capacitive touch, on the other hand, senses electromagnetic conductivity instead of pressure to register an input. Using conductivity to sense touch inputs increases the responsiveness and is ideally used with objects that have conductive properties such as your fingertip or conductive gloves. With capacitive technology, users can register inputs up to 10 points of touch and register various gestures to perform a function. Thus, there are more options for users based on their working environments.
Industrial panel PCs are equipped with VESA mounting and Wall-Mounting options. VESA is a standard mounting interface for monitors, displays, and TVs. With VESA mounting, installing a display will have a low-cost installation process and have a broad range of screen positioning applications that increase versatility, flexibility, and ergonomic benefits during installments.
There is a tremendous boost in ergonomics with VESA mounting because you can position your industrial panel PC in almost any position and angle imaginable since VESA is a common standard for displays. For example, they can be oriented in portrait (vertical) to landscape (horizontal), depending on the arm design. Adding more security and options to the mounting alternatives, Premio’s industrial panel PCs are also available for a wall-mount or an open frame mount, depending on the model of industrial panel pc. With screws on each side of the display for easy airflow from all sides, it’s physically secure to a cut-out dimension from the wall.
Premio didn’t stop there; it pushes the envelope even further with industrial panel PCs because it believes in providing a unique solution for each unique challenge in industrial automation. Hence, Premio offers three Industrial-grade panel PC product lines that include the VIO series, WIO series, and SIO Series specifically targeted for industrial markets and applications.
How Convenient! – VIO Series
Premio’s patented modular design for its industrial panel PCs has combined powerful computing with a durable touchscreen display to support an innovative modular solution that facilitates endless customization and convenient upgrades for your industrial panel PCs. Our VIO series are famous for their rugged modular design and respectable IP rating.
With that said, Premio offers two different types of modular PCs for computing and display, the PC Module (PC Series) and Monitor Module (MX Series). PC Module is an industrial panel PC that has a touch display and a powerful computer, and it’s a combination of VIO series and PC series. On the other hand, Monitor Module can be added for convenience if you only need a rugged external monitor as an I/O module; it’s a combination between VIO series and MX series. This is called a Multi-Mode Display Module (MDM). It’s a technology that offers fully optimized flexibility and upgradability.
With MDM technology, you can get an easy installation plug and play without an extra jumper or BIOS setup needed, just with six screws, and you are all set. Equipped with dual speakers on both sides, this set up is perfect for automation equipment requiring an industrial panel PC. Moreover, with modular capabilities, it will lower costs significantly from an upgradability and maintenance standpoint. Upgrade options are endless from monitor aspects such as sizes, aspect ratios, bezel size, etc., and PC specifications, such as next-generation Intel processors, PCIe slots, mini PCIe slots, and computing power, I/O inputs, and connectivity. The total cost of ownership for a modular design makes more sense instead of upgrading an entire panel PC when you can choose to upgrade the monitor or the PC individually.
Utilizing Premio’s MDM technology, you get up to 70+ unique panel display combinations. On top of this, applying MDM technology significantly reduces risk and maintenance costs. If your display breaks, you can simply swap it with a new display without changing the entire PC. Additionally, for replacements, you can stock field replacement units (FRUs) of the same monitor or PC modules in case you need a spare when performing maintenance. This will reduce downtime periods that can costs companies plenty of money. Premio’s VIO series selection with an All-in-One rugged solution is perfect for industrial applications that need modularity.
Hyper Jacked – WIO Series
Tough industries such as mining, agriculture, and livestock management require sturdy and durable panel PCs to ensure reliability in grimy and vigorous environments. Premio solved this problem with the WIO series IP66 Waterproof Panel PC. Devices deployed in these industries often receive frequent washdowns using high pressure, high-temperature water jets to thoroughly clean coagulated dirt. WIO Series is specifically constructed to provide versatility and reliability when exposed to water, dust particles and debris, shocks, and vibrations during deployments. Arming the WIO Series with an IP 66 rating creates a tight enclosure that is resistant to dust and water ingress. Additionally, it uses solid, high utility type 304 stainless steel to extend strength and corrosion resistance against water vapor and corrosive gases, such as ammonia, chlorine, hydrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, etc. These corrosive items are primary corrosion factors in industrial environments.
Frequent washdowns of industrial panel PCs during deployment is permitted since they are IP-66 rated, with the first digit 6 conveying that devices are protected from 4-micron dust particles penetrating under reduced pressure and the second digit 6 is protection from water projected from a powerful nozzle in any direction towards the display itself.
That said, the WIO series of full touchscreen display expands to a wide 21.5” inches, 16:9 aspect ratio, and TFT Full HD panel coupled with high-performance 7th Gen Intel® Core® Mobile-U Processors and Dual-Core CPU. Hyper jacked performance, the WIO series with rigidity and crushing performance to counter heavier workloads for Industry 4.0. Moreover, the sleek and simple design is packed into a low-profile all-in-one solution reaching a slim 74mm thickness, allowing the solution to fit perfectly in space-constrained environments without sacrificing any of the benefits of full-size desktop computers.
Ultra-Hygiene – SIO Series
The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted the service markets, so companies are having to sanitize equipment more often for extra precautions. Thus, Premio has launched the ultra-hygiene SIO series to fulfill demands on unique hardware with hygienic and aseptic capabilities. Sealed severe ingress with IP66/IP69K-rated protection provides water protection, with 9K-rating to protect against close-range high pressure, high-temperature water jet up to 80℃ and sprays up to 1450 PSI (100bar) from every angle of the system without compromising the internal system.
Reinforced for aggressive washdowns, the SIO series is perfect for deployments in food automation, health care, chemical manufacturing, and commercial appliances industries. These industries require powerful panel PCs with a streamlined designed to handle intense equipment washdowns to meet hygiene standards. SIO series is made of a rugged type of stainless-steel (SUS316 with molybdenum) to increase corrosion resistance, particularly against chlorides that are commonly used in water purifiers and antiseptics.
Additionally, the SIO series features a native touchscreen with enable/disable controls allowing the systems to continue running during intense water jets washdowns by turning off the touchscreen feature to avoid any accidental inputs.
SIO buttons and I/O inputs are designed to withstand exposure to high-pressure water jets and are made for easy and thorough cleaning. Buttons are strategically positioned to avoid accidental inputs during extreme washdowns. Moreover, the SIO series receives power directly from AC sources via an M12 connector to simplify the power input design. All of these prime features allow Premio to lead the industrial panel PC market by setting the bar high.
Over the long term, businesses and manufactures can look for other solutions and opportunities to increase productivity and reduce costs. To strive in advanced industries, Premio is the right partner to help businesses excel forward in today’s challenging environment countering with unique solutions. VIO, WIO, and SIO series increases productivity and reduces costs with their premium solutions.
Frequently Asked Questions:
1. What is the difference between an industrial panel PC and a regular PC?
The main differences are in the design and construction. Industrial panel PCs integrate touchscreen panels and a powerful computer into a single system. This is different from consumer-grade PCs, which are separate from external monitors. Also, industrial panel PC construction is rugged, designed to survive in harsh and extreme environments, whereas regular, consumer-grade PCs are only suitable for indoor use on desks.
2. What are the benefits of a modular design in an industrial panel PC?
Industrial environments are subject to constant abuse amid deployments. To counter downtime risk, Premio’s VIO series can reduce maintenance cost by the availability of spare parts of the industrial panel PC to instantly swap with the damaged parts of the display or PC module without needing to replace everything at once. Moreover, it’s cheaper for upgradability, where you can only upgrade the parts you desire (monitor or PC) instead of the entire panel PC.
3. Is the IP rating important?
Yes, IP ratings (ingress protection ratings) are important to have because they signify that the industrial panel PC is safe from tough deployment threats such as tiny dust particles, debris, and water, which are often the cause of damaged electronics. An IP rating is represented with two digits. The first digits represent ingress protections against tiny solid particles ranging from 0 to 6, and the second digits represent waterproof compatibility ranging from 0 to 9K. Premio is implementing this rating into its devices, such as the SIO series that ranks highest in both solid and liquid particles with an IP69K rating.
4. Why do you need a full touchscreen display?
Full touchscreen displays lead to a clean, streamlined design of the hardware that makes them easier for function customizations and upgradability. In contrast, when employing HMIs, you need a PLC as an additional hardware device that only performs a very specific task. To change the HMI functions, you also need to get new PLC hardware with the new specification. As a result, this piles up costs for unused PLCs and new PLC purchases. With a full touchscreen display, changing functions is easily and quickly done via software, and combined with VIO’s modular design; your imagination is your only limit.
5. What are the benefits of Washdown Touch Screen PCs?
Like the SIO series, some industries need a fanless panel PC with IP66/IP69K rating to withstand continuous high pressure, high-temperature washdowns to guarantee hygiene applications and environments 24/7/365 for high-quality controls and safety precautions.