Embedded PC simply explained: Modularly designed industrial PCs for logistics
When it comes to optimally coordinating applications in IT or logistics, embedded PCs play an important role. As industrial PCs, they always have a modular design and are specially tailored to the task area in which they are used. As an embedded system, they are designed for regulation or control tasks, which in some cases differ significantly from classic standard PCs in terms of their requirements profile.
proLogistik explains the structure and function of an embedded PC, highlights the advantages and gives examples of possible areas of application.
Explanation: Structure of an embedded PC
In the context of warehouse management, it is important to provide exactly those functions that are important for the user in the specific situation. A picker, for example, uses a handheld or mobile data entry (MDE) device to intuitively enter important information or check off tasks. These units are designed to provide the highest power density specifically for this task.
Specifically, an embedded PC is characterized by a high degree of automation. This is basically embedded in the respective application environment, which also explains the English name. Only those components are installed that are actually necessary. Therefore, for example, certain interfaces or peripherals linked to them are omitted when data is transferred via WLAN or Bluetooth, for example. An embedded PC is also characterized by a consistently robust and durable selection of individual components.
An overview of the components that characterize an embedded PC:
- CPU module with mains connection
- Various interfaces (USB, Ethernet etc.), depending on application focus
- Operating system
- Terminal block (bus terminal)
- Interfaces for fieldbus (Industrial, Profibus, or similar)
Functionality and task of an embedded PC
The special feature of an embedded PC is that it is typically modular and has been designed specifically for individual industrial applications. Of course, there are distinctions in terms of usability, which depends on the performance class of the selected components. An embedded PC serves the following tasks in particular:
- Control and monitoring of industrially used machines or plants
- Independent handling of individual work steps (e.g. picking, labeling) without the aid of specific peripheral devices
- Continuous operation by changing users, for example in warehouse management
- Use even in difficult working environments (deep-freeze areas, high hygiene requirements in the food industry, areas with splash water and contact with moisture)
In short, the embedded PC is available with individual specifications, depending on the desired area of application. Thus, a certain range exists, including fanless embedded PCs equipped with PoE ports, IP-protected, designed for extreme temperatures or expansion slots.
Application areas and advantages of an embedded PC
A look at the application scenarios in which embedded PCs are used shows the range of possible uses. These range from consumer electronics, for example in streaming boxes, televisions or game consoles, to medical and industrial technology, aerospace and classic telecommunications equipment (industrial PCs such as the Pro-V-Pad Classic from proLogistik and others).
Control or measurement units are often developed on the basis of an embedded PC. They are then characterized by a function specifically designed for this task, which of course brings certain advantages:
- Cost-effective, as low-maintenance or completely maintenance-free use
- High functionality even in a small space, for example by eliminating unnecessary components
- Low power consumption or high energy efficiency
- Configuration specific to one's own needs (including display, touchscreen, processor, interfaces, operating systems or compatibility)