Industrial Applications Demand Reliable Rugged Hardware

August 21, 2020 JC Ramirez, VP of Engineering and Product Management, ADL Embedded Solutions

Ericsson projects that the number of devices connected to the Internet of Things (IoT) will reach 1.5 billion in 2022, and the number of Industrial IoT (IIoT) connections will exceed 3.5 billion by 2023.The explosive growth of embedded computers and IoT connections fuel an ever-increasing number of IoT applications. Industrial sectors that can benefit from the use of IoT devices include traffic engineering, data-logging, oil and gas exploration, and others. But there are challenges that need to be overcome.

Challenges in Traffic Engineering

According to the statistics from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the overwhelming majority of illegal drug shipments that include heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, marijuana, etc., are smuggled through established ports of entry using cars, planes, and ships. 

Border Security and Customs Officers’ Challenges

There are many challenges that are apparent with border security and customs. Identifying suspicious people, access to historical data of cars, integrating the identity and personal records of vehicle occupants, and quick location of license plate information are just a few.

However, these are just challenges for the border officers. The extent of these security challenges extends to traditional police forces and toll booths.

What can be done?

For one, the use of IoT technologies enable faster and more accurate reading of the license plate numbers and container codes. Further, IoT solutions can provide facial and vehicle recognition imaging to capture and analyze data.

Light Detection and Ranging technology (LiDAR) may also be used to assist in tracking speed, volume, and weather conditions.

Challenges in Data-logging

Many sectors, including automotive, mining, and rugged industrial require a durable industrial computing solution with data-logging capability. These embedded computers collect data from various locations using different parameters to analyze specific trends.

In the automotive industry, specifically in automobile manufacturing, embedded computers and IoT technology can play a huge role in data collection and performance.

Firstly, test track data-logging enables car designers to optimize engine and car performance. In a broader sense, car data logs help automakers understand their consumers better such as where, when, and how their customers drive. The data collected can also help manufacturers understand the effect of driving in different environmental conditions.

Data logging also has a big impact on mining and industrial companies’ applications. Data logs help these companies understand how their workers operate to maximize efficiency. Additionally, it monitors working conditions to best implement health and safety guidelines.

Challenges in Oil and Gas Exploration

Oil and gas exploration is a high-stake industry with extreme environmental conditions, highly combustible substances and expensive equipment.

The two biggest challenges faced in this sector are the location and equipment expenses. The two go hand-in-hand. Typically, the location of oil fields is in a dry, dusty desert, or on a gulf. Both climates can be detrimental to equipment.

Essential IoT solutions are needed to collect data on equipment to monitor their conditions and schedule maintenance to minimize sudden breakdowns

Finding the Right Products Designed to Meet These Challenges

In the industrial applications, products need to be sufficiently ruggedized to maintain their high performance in harsh environments while requiring little maintenance. The industrial single-board computers (SBCs) will be collecting data from different equipment (aka the end points) made by various companies. With the help of analytics on the integrated data sets, smart industrial SBCs will enable real-time decision making. 

Because the embedded hardware will be working in the field for a long time and collecting a large amount of data, they need to have robust data storage with cybersecurity capability.

Summary

The synergy between IoT and embedded systems has tremendous potential in multiple industrial applications such as traffic engineering, data-logging, and oil and gas exploration.

The industrial applications of rugged computers require SBCs that are sufficiently rugged and capable of maintaining reliable performance in harsh environments while requiring little maintenance. SBCs also need to have the ability to expand or integrate into other systems to enable interoperability. Lastly, the IoT solution needs to prevent cyberattacks and keep the high-value equipment secure.

Companies like ADL Embedded Solutions, Inc. recognizes the tremendous cost and time of designing, developing and customizing embedded system solutions for these specific industrial applications by offering robust technical, engineering and design support to meet their customers’ expectations. 

About the Author

JC Ramirez is VP of Engineering and Product Management at ADL Embedded Solutions, Inc. JC (BSEE, MBA), has a technical background that includes Navy nuclear plant operation, nuclear instrumentation, semiconductor product development and embedded systems engineering.

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