Connected applications in industrial settings are termed as Industrial Internet of Things, or IIoT. Such applications require systems that can operate efficiently in unpredictable and often extreme and harsh environments. It’s where production errors and asset loss can potentially occur due to those extreme conditions. Fanless systems at the edge of the network can help overcome these obstacles, while delivering noise-free performance, excellent thermal controls, dust immunity, and energy efficiency.
IIoT processing performed at the edge is loaded with many benefits outside of environmental conditions. It can reduce network traffic, help avoid latency issues for real-time decisions and action, and minimize bandwidth bottlenecks. In these applications, embedded IIoT-based hardware devices obtain data and the edge computing platform performs the data processing while directly interfacing with the sensors and controllers. In some cases, analytics can be performed, with actions based on those analytics. The data collection and processing occur in real time before the data is handed off to a richer cloud computing system for organizing, storing, and further analyzing. Due to latency issues, there generally is no cloud involvement in the real-time decision making.
Edge computing helps IIoT applications gain traction in real-time analytics for the speedy decisions necessary in such applications as autonomous vehicles and critical factory equipment. It’s these applications where near zero latency response to detected conditions is paramount and where human lives may be at stake.
One harsh industrial setting application, for example, is the running of gas pumps while displaying multiple video streams for user HMI and/or advertising on both sides of a pump unit. For this system, the rugged edge computer is purpose-built to handle strong vibration, extreme temperature, and wet or dusty conditions. To address edge applications like this, WINSYSTEMS developed the SBC35-427 small footprint single board computer (SBC) that delivers all of the processing and I/O necessary for indoor and outdoor digital signage.
The SBC35-427 takes advantage of Intel’s E3950 Atom processor to drive an outdoor display/digital signage. It includes three simultaneous display outputs, dual DisplayPort, and LVDS with digital backlight and touch support, as well as two 10/100/1000 Mbit/s Ethernet ports and a host of USB and serial interfaces.
The WINSYSTEMS’ SBC35-427 industrial SBC combines an Intel Apollo Lake-I E3900 series CPU with multiple expansion and configuration options.
To operate consistently in harsh outdoor environments, the operating temperature of the SBC ranges from -40°C to +85°C. The system uses the cloud for storage and analytics and the edge-based display to collect data and perform simple processing tasks. Common in many digital displays and other IIoT applications, memory modules must be small enough to fit into constrained spaces.
The SBC35-427 can handle up to 8 Gbytes of socketed small outline DIMM (SODIMM) DDR3L ECC SDRAM. The SBC combines off-the-shelf functionality with multiple expansion and configuration options. Its small size, low power, rugged design, and extended operational temperature make it a suitable choice for rugged embedded systems in industrial IoT segments.
Continuous operation is also important. Whether it’s IIoT connected devices in a gas station, HVAC systems, or machinery on the factory floor, these computers are designed to operate on the last known information state, so that making key decisions in the event of an interruption continues.