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.

All About Forklift Computers

All About Forklift Computers

Forklifts first came about in the early twentieth century and their practical purpose didn’t change much over the years; they picked up freight, moved it from one short distance to another or from ground level to higher storage spaces. Although the forklift’s intended functionality was fairly simplistic, continued warehouse process improvement efforts coupled with technological progress eventually enveloped this modest warehouse vehicle into a new role: inventory management and asset tracking. By placing an industrial grade computer on the unit, a forklift operator was able to scan items as they were being stored.  A forklift computer’s primary objective is now to help organize an active warehouse facility, sending real-time information to logistics operations or to an inventory information database. This is a huge boon to organizations like home improvement stores who have to move and replenish stock several times a day.

Forklift mounted computers have been attempted for at least a dozen years, but they were bulky and difficult to use while a worker was also trying to operate the vehicle. More space effective, customizable all-in-one touchscreen computer formats like ones offered by Tangent are making it easy to complete repeated tasks and keep the small cab of the vehicle free of clutter and cabling. The Tangent F15 industrial all-in-one touchscreen computer was specifically created with forklift mounting and use in mind. Chief amongst it’s notable features is ten programmable function keys on the front panel. This allows the forklift operator to complete several repeatable tasks at the touch of a button, which means being able to work without requiring both hands and doing it safely. Wireless and bluetooth capabilities allow users to connect to networks and databases without the need for an ethernet cable connection. The construction of the Tangent F15 computer also lends itself to industrial warehouse conditions. The enclosure is completely sealed and rated at IP65 for being protected against water and dirt intrusion. The bright orange casing makes the unit easy to identify within the forklift cockpit, and easy to see the buttons for one-handed use when the operator is multi-tasking. The casing is designed for mounting on forklift applications with M8 heavy duty screws, and the computer has been tested for shock and vibration resistance.

Some companies have taken to using tablets on forklifts, which does allow for more mobility with the computer, but one of the bigger criticisms of using those is that the battery only lasts so long before a charge is required. This wouldn’t be a problem except that forklifts typically use DC power, not AC, and so time would be lost in charging or the expense of having to keep several tablets on hand. The Tangent F15 has a wide input voltage range allows for integration into more environments that can use either DC or AC power.

A range of I/O devices useful to inventory management are available for the industrial computer including an internal GPS module and an RFID (MiFare). GPS is popular for use in geo-fencing and RFID uses electromagnetic fields to automatically identify and track tags attached to inventory, removing the need to manually scan an item to identify it. For those who prefer barcodes and scanners, there’s a multitude of input ports for peripherals and devices. A lot went into consideration when this industrial all-in-one was designed for warehouse and forklift use. And as with industrial operations, it’s always better to have the right tool for the job.

A Solid Standard for Cleanliness

A Solid Standard for Cleanliness

 

We’ve mentioned ISO standards in the past regarding safety metrics  for electrical components like PCs, but did you know that the International Organization for Standards has published well over twenty thousand standards? Their work covers almost every industry, and every aspect of technology and manufacturing, providing guidance and rating descriptions for each product, service or system they assess. That sounds both amazing and like overkill at the same time, but it certainly makes sense to have a stringent rating system available when trying to determine the quality, cleanliness, or safety of something before utilizing it. This is especially highlighted in highly sensitive areas that require strictly controlled work environments.

Controlling contamination is essential in many manufacturing and research activities, and so effective clean rooms are of paramount importance to those companies. As you may have guessed, the ISO has a series of standards dedicated to clean rooms, defining practices and procedures required to manage the risk of contamination. The ISO rating of a clean room can determine a great deal about how trustworthy and accurate the work being done inside is. But a clean room contains much more than just a secured enclosure. Specialized equipment, including computers, must also be secured to ensure they don’t diminish the quality of contaminate control and affect it’s rating.

Specialized mini PCs like the Tangent Rugged O were especially designed with these requirements in mind. The Rugged O mini PC’s innovative design allows for a fanless operation which means there are no moving parts or ventilation slots to circulate or collect dust contaminants. This  passive cooling technology allows heat from the CPU to transfer directly to the mini PC’s stainless steel housing, and ensures a reliable and noiseless function. The mini PC’s diminutive size and mounting bracket give it the flexibility to be affixed to most any surface. All the ports on the case are threaded and sealed to keep the internals protected and the outside environment clean. The mini PC’s stainless steel case in minimal in appearance for a good reason. The fewer grooves and edges on a PC, the fewer places for dirt and dust to collect. That’s not the end of the case’s features either. The Rugged O mini PC is IP65 certified and IP67 compliant. This IP rating ensures total protection from dust and provides waterproof reliability of up to a thirty-minute submersion. This means it’s also capable of withstanding industrial-grade cleaning solutions and thorough cleaning which is a common occurrence within clean rooms.

So how does an industrial mini PC of this caliber help bolster the ISO rating of a clean room? The ISO 14644 standard specifies air cleanliness in terms of the concentration of airborne particles in the clean rooms. The use and maintenance of a Tangent mini PC that has no fan, is sealed, is waterproof and can withstand corrosion is solid evidence of a concerted effort to conform to the ISO standards since it greatly reduces the potential presence of airborne particles. The standard for clean rooms has 16 different detailed parts to it, so it is of the utmost importance that the equipment deployed to a clean zone can meet the requirements to achieve a good rating and demonstrate the room’s efficacy.

A Thin PC That’s No Dummy

A Thin PC That’s No Dummy

 

As far as thin form factor PCs are concerned, the business tech field was dominated for a long time by terminal/thin client computers (also lovingly referred to as dumb terminals) that are used to connect to a Citrix or similar type of application farm, or to a virtual desktop. Though they are small and effective for cost-conscious enterprises, dumb terminals don’t offer much in the way of computing power or functionality, and what affects the farm server, affects every user connected to it. When a Citrix server goes down, the work day comes to a screeching halt for all. This is, of course, a nightmare scenario for any business carrying out critical functions. And these systems are not industrial grade computers either. When one fails, they are as good as trash. Full functioning PCs did exist as small form factors, but space was a problem due to the size of hard drives, so performance and features were lacking.

 

As time marched on and technology advanced, computers have been able to shrink drastically and improve in performance. So much now that a fully functional PC can be even smaller than the thin form factors of a decade ago. For example, Tangent’s Rugged L1 small form factor industrial computer comes with up to 2TB of storage and 8GB of memory, but is a featherweight system at an astounding 2.9lbs. Space is always at a premium on tiny computers, but Tangent managed to offer a USB 3.0 port, two USB 2.0 ports,serial ports, one Mini PCIe expansion slot, WiFi, and up to two Gbit LANs onto the miniscule Rugged L1 industrial computer. It also helps that the industrial computer is durable and built to last for years, so there won’t be a need to be switching out the PC often.

 

Where can we find such small and autonomous industrial computers at work? Anywhere where workspace is a consideration or the computer needs to be out of sight. The Rugged L1 industrial computer was built to be able to be mounted most anywhere, including the back of a monitor. This is a useful application for small work areas or in lobbies/waiting rooms where the public is able to use the computer. A sleek, uncluttered terminal makes for a very professional appearance and enhances clients’ perception of the establishment, be it a hotel lobby or medical office. Speaking of medical areas, counter and desk space is often in short supply there, so a clean, compact small form factor industrial computer fits the bill perfectly. And being fanless especially ensures a clean working environment.

 

From my experience, dumb terminals and other small form factor computers of the past had to have a specific monitor with a mounting bracket for the system, or the computer came with a flimsy stand. The L1 industrial computer has VESA mounting capability that offers installation flexibility. The VESA compliant mounting plates come in sizes such as 100mm x 100mm or 75mm x 75mm, meaning that this industrial computer can be mounted on mobile carts, video displays, monitor backs, up against a wall–  the options are boundless. The industrial computers offered by Tangent can be highly customized to suit the specific needs and environment of their clients.

Dressing the Part for Modern Industry

Dressing the Part for Modern Industry

Interior design legend, Elise de Wolfe, once said that dressing well is largely a question of detail and accessories. As much as this philosophy applies to fashion and design, it can also be said that a great computer system is largely contingent on the details built into it, versatility of use, and available accessories for expansion of capabilities. For example, say that you need an industrial tablet to be a workhorse computer at a construction job site, but also need something to entertain your children in the evening. Many people would cite that these two scenarios are equally hazardous to the health of the tablet PC. Let’s consider that this same system also needs to be able to read smart cards (including credit cards) and barcodes. This sounds like a lot for a tablet to do but Tangent offers products that are not only fully featured themselves, but come built to survive harsh conditions and falls, and are also accessorized to suit many types of business needs.

 

Tangent’s industrial tablet PC, the R10, is encased with a durable and highly protective enclosure with rubber on the corners that also keeps the back of the case from getting scratched when the tablet is laid down flat. The industrial PC is tested to withstand drops from a distance of four feet up. Being jostled around a bit will not damage the internals as there are no moving parts; the PC is built with a fanless design to ensure extreme reliability and a noise-free operation. These details certainly come in handy when working outdoors, or when less-than-careful hands are swinging it around. The casing of the industrial PC is rated IP65 on the back panel and IP64 on the front panel against dust ingress and water spray. The USB ports are also covered to protect against contamination from dirt and liquids.

 

The processing unit of the industrial PC is no wimp, either. The tablet comes equipped with an Intel 3rd Gen Core i7 processor and up to 480 GB of solid state storage. This harks back to the point about there being no moving parts in the industrial PC. Up to 8GB of memory is also offered for the industrial tablet PC. Wireless and bluetooth capabilities come standard on the unit, as well as integrated audio and speakers. Another great feature for customization is F1 & F2 programmable keys for quick access to common commands.

 

And let’s talk about the accessories! The optional combo data input accessory offers a smart card, MSR, and fingerprint reader, along with capabilities for RFID and a barcode reader. This means one could scan an item and then accept payment for it. Of course, this is easier done when the tablet is stationary, so the industrial PC also has an optional desktop charging stand. If you find that a stand is unnecessary and want a smaller charging option, the included standard power module provides a non-intrusive power input for the unit and an added USB port. The many add-ons to the R10 industrial PC make it a beautifully versatile tool for a great range of computing needs.

Touchscreen Computers –  Touching on a Future of Self-Service

Touchscreen Computers –  Touching on a Future of Self-Service

Over the last couple decades, self service technologies have revolutionized how people conduct business, travel and even receive healthcare services.These technologies have vastly improved efficiency through increased control over service delivery, convenience, reduction in wait time, reduction in operating costs, and flexibility in use. At many restaurants, dozens of flavors of sodas can be mixed and dispensed at the touch of a screen, and ordering one’s own food on tablets is an increasingly popular trend. Shopping malls and corporate offices provide interactive directories to its visitors, and it is nearly impossible to encounter any ticketing area of an airport that is not brimming with touchscreen kiosks for checking in and getting flight information. Self-service touchscreen computers are appearing in hospitals in great numbers as well. Patients are checking into their appointments without the help of medical administrators which is streamlining administrative tasks like hospital registration and payments.

 

Touchscreen computer technology is widely available and the demand for it is extremely apparent, but how durable are these machines that are abused on a daily basis? After all, a solution is only effective if it is reliable. Luckily, industrial touchscreen computers like the ones offered by Tangent benefit from a durable and rigorously tested construction. Tangent’s S Series of 15″, 19″, and 22″ touchscreen computers are assembled with rugged, stainless steel housing  that offers a corrosion resistant surface. The standard casing is IP66/NEMA 4x rated, which means the enclosure is constructed for either indoor or outdoor use and provides a degree of protection against dirt, rain, snow, windblown dust, splashing water, hose-directed water, and corrosion. The S series also has an optional IP69K rated enclosure which means that high pressure and high temperature washdown can be used to sanitize the equipment. Of course this is likely overkill for most applications, but it’s nice to know the equipment can handily be subjected to such a powerful scrub and high heat without experiencing any damage.

 

One of the better advancements in touchscreen technology is Projected Capacitive Touch, also known as PCAP. The first capacitive touchscreen required a bare finger to use and could not allow for multi-touch, but now PCAP touchscreens offer high precision multi-touch functionality and high response speed. They also work when operated by a hand covered in surgical gloves or other thin gloves, which is essential in a hospital or industrial settings. The S series offers this PCAP as an option on all sizes of their touchscreen PCs. And like with many of Tangent’s industrial products, the unit is rated for shock protection and has a fanless design for extreme reliability, and noise-free operation. For an added measure of autonomy and utility, the S series can be equipped with Intel Wireless AC-7260 & Bluetooth for a relatively wire-free system. The efficiencies that touchscreen computers provide are nearly boundless, and with such reliable systems available, companies are able to utilize them to their full potential.

Industrial Computers – Conducting Business in Extreme Conditions

Industrial Computers – Conducting Business in Extreme Conditions

It’s no surprise that extreme weather can have a significant impact on industrial operations, which often times take place while on the move or exposed to the elements. For military personnel working in Afghanistan, summers are blistering hot and winters can be bitterly cold, and a 2007 Air Force Weather Agency report on Iraq’s summer weather marked a record temperature of 124 degrees fahrenheit. Temperatures of that nature are nearly intolerable to human beings, much less to sensitive computer equipment that emit heat on their own. For that and many other reasons, sturdy industrial computers are a necessity to ground forces and any other industry working in harsh conditions.

 

With thermal and shock management in mind, Tangent created a line of rugged industrial PCs to suit a variety of environments, be it frigid or sweltering. Both the Rugged E3 and Rugged E2 have operating temperatures ranging from -13° to 158°F (-25° to 70° C) and storage temperatures ranging from an amazing -22° to 185°F (-30° – 85° C). Another excellent feature is that they have no moving parts to wear out. Being fanless and sealed ensures that dust, humidity, and other contaminants cannot get into the industrial computer and wreak havoc as it often does with standard PCs.

 

How do they manage to regulate extreme temperatures without fans? By using conduction cooling! Tangent’s military-grade industrial computer cases have fin-like design that acts as a heat conduit to draw thermal energy away from the processor and dissipates the heat. Conduction cooling literally conducts the heat away from the source to the cooler outer wall of the enclosure. This makes the enclosure of the industrial computer itself a heat radiator. Although forced air cooling is cheaper and easier to implement, conduction-cooled designs provide greater flexibility than forced-air, particularly for extreme conditions. An added bonus to this cooling method is that it provides a completely noise-free operation for the industrial PC.

 

Besides the excellent cooling components, the sturdy construction of the mini PCs protects them from vibration, sudden movements or drops, which make them prime candidates for use as a vehicle mounted industrial computer. The Rugged Tank is especially suited to in-car applications. In addition to being rated for extreme temperature, the conductive case is MIL-STD-810F military standard tested for shock and vibration. The Rugged Tank industrial computer also has an optional iRIS-2400 remote management module that provides IPMI 2.0 compliant support that monitors hardware operation, can be used to autonomously to reset the machine from a remote location and also provides a reliable remote access tool. A very handy thing to have for a PC that is installed in hard to reach places!

 

In the unfortunate event of a crash, the Rugged series industrial computers come equipped with RAID support and the E series even has removable drive bays to quickly swap out bad hard drives. This also helps to meet offsite data retention and storage requirements organizations often have for auditing purposes. Both form and function play heavily into the construction of the Rugged industrial computer series to ensure reliable and consistent performance in any work capacity or environmental situation and aims to be as flexible as possible to meet the demands of ever changing industries and the climates they do business in.

 

The Rising importance of the Industrial Panel PC and Applications

The Rising importance of the Industrial Panel PC and Applications

Few inventions have had as much impact on manufacturing environments around the world as the Industrial panel PC and related applications. These robust computers have evolved into a vital component for every industrial environment.

While the design of home computers is increasingly rigid, there is still little to compare a traditional computer to an Industrial Panel PC. In fact, the industrial computer is designed specifically for harsh environments in which a standard computer would be unable to withstand, and the software is something which requires a lot less attention regarding updates or maintenance.

Features and benefits and applications of an Industrial Panel PC

s22 S22 , THREE MONITOR CAPACITY

Tangent’s S22 Industrial Computer is an excellent example of the capacities of Industrial Panel PCs. The S22 Industrial computer is fanless, waterproof, shock proof and capable of operating in temperatures up to 104°F (0° to 40° C). Although the fanless nature of this particular model is common, the temperature capacity is not something found in all Industrial PCs. In fact, it must be noted that variations exist in Industrial computers, with each one equally powerful yet tailoring to a very specific environment.

For example, Tangent’s high tech F15 Industrial Computer incorporates an Intel 3rd Gen Core i3/i7 processor and this resilient machine is fitted with a forklift mount.

Simply put, these purpose-built Industrial computers are specifically engineered with the rigors of tough machinery for applications such as a plant floor and other corporate, industrial and healthcare applications.

Consisting of a programmable logic controller (PLC), these applications can automate the production process and at the very least monitor this process by retrieving and calculating relevant data.

Along with offering an endless line of control and automation applications, Industrial Panel PCs also provide a seamless way to connect the corporate office with what is happening in the production environment.

The Industrial Panel PC: Take Home

f15

When you consider the overall value of these machines and processes, the rising importance of the Industrial Panel PC and applications is rather obvious. Many of these models such as the F15 Industrial Computer are extremely compact (15”) which have a streamlining effect and helps to minimize unnecessary interference in the industrial workplace.

Tangent is a leading provider of Industrial Panel PCs and also a reliable resource to provide training and extensive support to assists with every aspect of the implementation process.

The Industrial Panel PC is now a necessity for healthcare, Industrial and corporate businesses to remain at the forefront of their respective industry, contact us today to find the right product for your workplace. 650-342-9388 or sales@tangent.com