Industrial Computer in Agriculture

Rugged Industrial PCs in Agriculture

Rugged Industrial PCs in Agriculture

Not many industrial sectors look to technology for efficiency with as much fervor and adoption as agricultural industries. In 1793, the cotton gin machine was patented which immediately contributed to the success of cotton in Southern farms. The industrial revolution of the 1800s brought about many new inventions including the McCormick mechanical reaper that could harvest an acre of wheat in an hour, whereas it formerly took all day to gather the same amount using hand reapers. Automated feeding systems for livestock, computerized milk collection and milking machines have been around since the late 20th century and resulted in much faster and larger yields. In our modern times, industrial farmers and ranchers are no less inventive and mindful of progressive techniques and advanced computer applications and software.

 

An interesting example comes from a Canadian company who began using early versions of RFID (radio-frequency identification) on ostrich chicks in the 1990’s.These birds are highly valued, but unfortunately have a high mortality rate. Because of this, the company began tracking the birds in the field with RFID enabled leg bands to see how long they stayed at feeding troughs and how much they ate during each visit. That information gathered on computers enabled ostrich ranchers to identify which birds were at risk, and thus their lifespans began to lengthen with the help of  targeted treatment. Many ranches now use RFID to track cattle health, their behavior, and to also track their numbers and location. By pairing a cow’s tag RFID number with other sensor data, ranchers are able to see how an animal is acting and feeling, and can therefore determine which ones are thriving and what factors are leading to that. This is an amazing amount of insight into individuals amongst a herd which may number in the thousands.

Industrial Computer F15
F15 Industrial Computer

The computers best suited for field data collection will always be rugged industrial computer systems that can stand up to the elements and dusty environments endemic to agricultural and/or open grazing lands.  The Tangent F15 15” rugged tablet computer is not only completely sealed and protected against water and dirt intrusion, its sturdy case is designed to withstand falls, shock and vibration. The tablet has no internal fans, which equates to a long-lasting and reliable operation stemming from no moving parts to break and no ingestion of dirt and contaminants. It’s designed to be easily mounted on vehicles like forklifts or agriculture vehicles as to serve multiple purposes. The F15 tablet computer is equipped with an RFID module, a 3G module, and GPS so that farmers can easily pursue innovative livestock tracking solutions like the ostrich and cattle ranchers mentioned in the example above, or excel in crop and inventory management amongst many other efficiencies using the same technologies. This rugged industrial computer can operate at extreme temperatures ranging from -4  to 140°F, which many ranches and farms across America can easily put it through. Anything short of industrial grade and rugged construction on a work tablet would cause a loss of revenue on both the computer equipment but on essential data about livestock or crops.

Cerner Certified

Medical Computers Explained

Medical Computers Explained

 

Medical computers are constructed and tested to go above and beyond the capabilities, usage, and expected lifespan of standard consumer grade computer systems and components. They are purpose built for use in clinical environments where infection control, patient safety, durability, and uptime are of the utmost importance. Infection control is achieved and supported in a number of ways. Depending on the specific component, the plastics of a true medical computer will either be embedded with antimicrobial additives or treated with an antimicrobial coating on the exterior. This ensures many years of use and cleaning without any degradation of the computer’s antimicrobial properties. Thorough and frequent cleaning and disinfection is required for infection control in medical facilities, so medical computers must be protected from liquid and spray ingress. For that reason they are rated in accordance with the IEC standard 60529 for IP (or “Ingress Protection”). Medical computers are usually rated IP54 or higher, indicating that the enclosure is dust tight and rated to withstand water pressure to varying degrees. Another important measure for patient safety that is a required standard for medical computers is electric shock protection. The IEC 60601-1 is an international technical standard for the safety and required performance of medical electrical equipment. A medical device with this certification indicates that it is protected from electrical frequency leakage making it safe to be used in close proximity to a patient, and it is shielded as to not interfere with other sensitive medical equipment.

 

Medical Computer Variations

 

Medical Computers tend to fall into two main categories: all-in-one panel formats that are typically used on medical carts, arms or on a desk stand, and handheld tablets for lightweight, portable computing.

All-In-One-Medical-Computer
All-in-one medical computer
Medical Tablets
Medical Computer Tablets

All-in-one medical panel PCs come in a variety of screen sizes and features to suit the needs of a medical practice. Fanless operation, PCAP multi-touch touchscreens, hot-swappable batteries, smart card readers, and VESA standard mounting are popular features on such medical computers. Hot-swap batteries allow the workstation to run on batteries uninterrupted throughout the work day, and PCAP multi-touch provides a highly responsive touchscreen experience. Smart-card readers provide a fast and secure method for user identification and login. Medical panel computers are often offered with a fanless option which means lower power consumption, no buildup of dust in the computer, no dust particles being circulated, and no moving parts within the PC.

Medical grade tablets are built with very durable, rugged exteriors to protect against drops, and they are protected from damage resulting from shock and vibration.  They can range from very compact to relatively large, but are built with being lightweight in mind. Medical tablets can be equipped with many of the same features of the larger all-in-one panel PCs like barcode scanners, hot-swap batteries, and RFID, but offer a greater mobility for tasks that involve traveling amongst several locations. Many tablets can be fitted with hand straps or set into a docking station.

 

Methods for Selecting a Medical Computer Manufacturer

 

Once the decision to invest in medical computers is made, the next task is to select a manufacturer that not only can provide an appropriately catered and certified solution package, but will also partner to provide efficient and expert support along with excellent product warranties. Tangent’s innovative products have received numerous industry awards including Network Products’ Product Innovation Award, and has had Windows Magazine recommend their products. Tangent’s medical computers are validated by Cerner and are Epic compliant.

 Cerner

The demands of patient care and strict quality assurance regulations require medical computer systems to maintain continued uptimes far over anything consumer devices can offer, and they also require a computer vendor to be equally available. Tangent has service and sales offices located throughout the United States, Canada, Europe and China to provide support when and where they are needed.

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One-Stop Patient Billing and Scheduling

One-Stop Patient Billing and Scheduling

 

A big part of a medical office’s interaction with patients involves scheduling and billing for their services. It’s not the most glamourous position to have and largely goes unnoticed, but it’s an extremely important role since medical schedulers and billers are the ones that ensure patients and insurance companies are charged accurately, are scheduled for important services, and that patients are reminded about their upcoming appointments. They keep medical practices in business and patients on time. For smaller practices, this role tends to fall on a small number of people running the front office doing intake for arriving patients, taking phone calls, receiving direction from doctors and nurse staff, and running around to provide medical records to staff as well. It can be a hectic set of expectations to fulfill, so organization and efficiency is key for a practice to run smoothly and on schedule. On the top of the list for maintaining an organized, successful business is having the right tools that not only meet it’s required functionality, but are also reliable, fast, and easy to use.

A medical tablet is a great way to integrate all of a medical front office’s needs into one convenient, flexible and cost efficient package. The Tangent M7 7” touchscreen is an excellent entry level medical tablet that allows staff to schedule and check in patients, scan barcodes on files or wrist bands, readily accept card payments and retrieve information from the internet all while being completely mobile. The tablet device can connect to wifi and bluetooth so that staff can actively work anywhere in the facility, especially with the handy strap on the back. An optional docking station is also available for stationary use and charging.

For a larger and more robust industrial grade tablet, the R10 10” tablet makes all-in-one computing seem effortless. With many of the same features as the M7, the R10 kicks it all up a notch with an Intel 3rd Gen Core i7 processor, a 480GB SSD hard drive, and 8GB of memory. The noticeably sturdy and rugged casing has been tested and proven to safeguard the medical tablet from falls, vibration and shaking. The optional combo data input accessory offers smart card, MSR (magnetic stripe reader), and fingerprint readers for easy access to the system and easy check out for patients. A fast check in and check out is so essential for keeping a patient flow in and out of the office steady and happy. My dentist’s office is staffed by some wonderful people but their payment machine is embarrassingly slow, they have paper files for each patient still, and a few computer systems that don’t appear to be linked to each other. I can’t imagine what a pain it must be to track all of that, and to do it largely manually. With the variety of medical tablets offered by Tangent, a patient-centric practice can be transformed into a streamlined workflow dream. They offer tablets from seven to thirteen inches to suit any desktop space, and have a wide variety of options amongst them to meet the unique business requirements of demanding medical operations, including billing and scheduling.

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Secure Encryption with TPM

 

Secure Encryption with TPM

Today we’re going to delve into a feature that’s often mentioned on Tagent’s medical computers and tablets spec sheets, but not often expanded on: TPM Support. The Trusted Platform Module (TPM) is an international standard for a secure cryptoprocessor.  A cryptoprocessor is a dedicated microcontroller built into computers that is designed to secure its hardware. This is achieved through the use of integrated cryptographic keys. That sounds like pretty high tech stuff, but put simply, a cryptographic key is a string of bits used by an algorithm to change plain text into cipher text or vice versa. The key is private and ensures secure encryption and decryption of data on the computer. With that knowledge, it’s fairly simple to see why it would be a useful feature on a medical computer containing patient health information.  The TPM helps support the integrity of the computer platform and boot process, device identification, authentication, disk encryption, password protection, and more. That’s a pretty good resume for one small microcontroller. It’s such a significant component that the United States Department of Defense specifies that “new computer assets procured to support DoD will include a TPM version 1.2 or higher.”

Most all of Tangent’s medical grade computers and tablets come standard with TPM 1.2 or 2.0.  The new Tangent M10i medical tablet PC has the TPM 1.2 support standard, as well as a rugged casing to prevent damage from being dropped, and is tested to strict military standards for shock and vibration resistance. The medical tablet also has a top of the line high brightness multi-touch surface with Gorilla Glass panel and digitizer. Gorilla Glass is known for its high quality touch device screens and is found on most of the leading smartphones, tablets, and watches. The M10i tablet comes standard with dual cameras: a two megapixel front facing camera, and a five megapixel rear camera with flash. One of its more impressive features include a hot-swap battery function that allows for eleven hours of uninterrupted operation. The 10” medical PC boasts a 4th Generation Intel® Haswell Core™ i processor, up to 8GB of memory and can be mounted on a number of surfaces including vehicles and medical arms.

The 13 inch T13 medical tablet PC from Tangent comes with TPM 2.0 support. The 2.0 standard supports a few more encryption algorithms and different kinds of structural hierarchies amongst other things. This is very handy for the T13 medical computer since it comes equipped with full slot smart card and SD card readers that allows for accepting credit card payments or using smart cards for authentication. This versatile machine can be used with a hand strap for users on the go, with an integrated stand, a desktop charging cradle, or can be mounted walls and vehicles with its VESA 100 mounting bracket. The T13 medical tablet is ruggedized and perfect for daily work in hospitals because of its ABS plastic enclosure w/ rubber corners, IP54 rated front panel, and antimicrobial treatment. Tangent’s medical computers are truly secure both inside and out!