Smartphones and tablets are applied to the factory floor gradually, receiving data input, device monitor and system control. Therefore, many factory automation software providers have developed Android applications for monitoring and controlling industrial automation devices. The trend towards the development of Internet of things devices has also contributed to the efforts of remote device control and monitoring.
However, the factory floor is a pretty harsh place for equipment, especially in terms of electronic products.
However, the need for higher levels of manufacturing and machine reliability means that production and maintenance systems are eager to acquire data. In most cases, the best way to meet this demand is through the use of real-time input from industrial computing devices; pencil and paper tracking simply cannot meet the needs of today's industrial environment.
In fact, dozens of computers are used for many operations. Therefore, maximizing the service life of these devices will affect cost and continuity.
At the same time, many industrial automation application users are realizing the advantages of Android-based PC. For several reasons, Android PCs are a lower cost alternative to traditional windows PCs. Android computers usually include ARM processors, which are more cost-effective than Intel processors.
In addition, Android industrial computers are not subject to the operating system license fees required for Windows-based computers. Android industrial computers do not need the additional storage capacity and memory requirements required by Windows-based computers. The cost savings associated with these differences have driven the industry toward Android-based computers.
The development of Android computing is accompanied by a group of Android software developers who use a simplified software development environment. Android developers can easily customize applications to compliance with unique I/O devices and create GUIs to manage any industrial application.
In addition, these devices can be connected to ERP and WMS systems, and have diagnostic and preventive maintenance procedures.
The benefits of Android device monitoring and system control seem obvious, while this was not possible in a factory environment for commercial Android computers, because they lack the durability and industrial environmental adaptability. So, it must be realized by industrial grade Android computer.
Here are five factors that any industrial user should pay attention to when looking for a suitable industrial tablet:
1. Ability to deal with any industrial environment
The industrial tablet PC used in the factory workshop will be integrated into the production line and the robot arm, used as a human-machine interface, and connected to the forklift cage and trolley as well as the workstation. In most cases, these devices will be used in dirty, dusty work environments and extreme temperature areas.
This is not the right place for consumer computers and tablets. These harsh industrial environments require rugged table PCs.
Many users need rugged tablets that can be used in indoors and outdoors. For example, if an employee uses a tablet computer in a warm car and then freezes the temperature on site, condensation may result. This moisture will damage commercial tablet PCs. However, the internal components of industrial computer are not affected by these temperature fluctuations because they are designed with anti-high /low temperature performance.
In order to withstand these harsh conditions, tablet PCs need a high IP protection rating, which indicates that the device can effectively prevent foreign matters and moisture from entering, whether in the front panel or the entire enclosure.
For extreme temperatures, some of these industrial grade tablet PCs have fanless heat dissipation design. These devices protect their internal components from particulate matter as they dissipate heat. They can handle a wide temperature range operation and can be used in outdoor environments or used next to heating equipment.
2. Design to run with various operating systems
The good news is that manufacturing plants have a range of systems to choose from for management and maintenance functions. The bad news is that a typical computing device may not be able to interact with it.
Over time, the tablet PCs used today will not require future system upgrades. But successful management involves getting the most useful information from your devices, and they need the ability to handle a variety of operating systems.
These include Windows Embedded, Windows professional version, Windows RT, and any other developed systems. You also need to be ready for Linux and POS systems, as well as the latest I/O interfaces and ports that can handle higher transfer speeds.
3. Touch screen design
Two of the most important factors in the factory are readability and responsiveness. The lighting on the factory floor ranges from dim to extremely bright.
Consider providing high-resolution, sunlight readable LCD screen, TFT screen, CCFL backlight, high brightness and wide viewing angle devices. Readability is crucial, because information must be viewed quickly from the screen, and any misunderstanding will lead to serious consequences.
The demand of industrial application requires that the screen has a useful service life of long time touch. Many industrial operations, especially maintenance, wire or cleaning, require hand protection, and the screen can produce response by glove touch.
4. From moist to humid environment
For the food, beverage and pharmaceutical industries, right temperature condition means everything. For safety reasons, these products must be stored properly and the items usually need to be heated or cooled to the limit during processing. In a refrigerated environment, steam and condensate are produced when the equipment is washed with hot water. These conditions are fatal for consumer computers.
On the other hand, waterproof tablets are designed to withstand these conditions. They are able to work in a wider temperature range and higher humidity environment.
In processing equipment, rugged industrial-grade tablets may come from the cold temperatures of a refrigerator or freezer and return to a hot warehouse several times during a day. These devices are ideal for use in the industry and operate efficiently without any adverse reactions to rapid temperature changes.
Industrial computer is production tool
Information is the key to productive industries and processing operations, and also a means to avoid costly mistakes. The information provided by the rugged tablet allows employees at these facilities to browse thousands of times a day, which is a window into system and device performance.
Downtime is fatal. Because reliability is needed, industrial computer companies will rigorously test their devices to make sure they can handle extreme situations during operation.
Since there is no same manufacturing or processing environment, please ensure that your supplier can provide you with equipment that meets your operation requirements, and support achieve the goal of monitoring and control system functions. The right industrial computer will provide years rather than months of operation for the facility.