Industrial computers are in use everywhere in manufacturing, industrial automation, energy management, and in a variety of industries that require heavy-duty computers that can withstand a rugged environment and last for a long time. Industrial computers and residential computers are similar in terms of storing and processing information, and they share many of the same hardware components, but there are crucial differences between residential and industrial computers.
Ruggedness and Design
Industrial computers are designed to be used in harsh environments because they can withstand conditions that residential computers cannot. Temperature is one example of this. Residential computers are designed to operate best between 30 to 35 degrees Celsius, but industrial PCs can handle extensive heat up to around 55 C. Industrial computers can also withstand shock, vibration, dirt, corrosive substances, and humidity better than residential computers, which are designed for use in a more controlled environment.
Residential computers can be placed pretty much anywhere, but that is not the case with industrial computers, which may need to be anchored down. To support industrial computers and ensure their stability, they are often installed within a steel or aluminum enclosure or rack. Many rack-mounted components are specified as being 1U, 2U, 3U, etc. in terms of size. The term 1U refers to one rack unit of height, which is 1.75 inches. So 2U rack mount PCs would require a space that is 3.5 inches high, which is double the height of 1U, and 3U rack mount PCs would require a space that is 5.25 inches high, which is triple the amount of space taken up by a 1U.
Residential computers are not designed to last for a lengthy period of time. While they may need to be replaced in a few years, industrial computers are made to remain in use for at least five to 10 years or more. The circuit boards and other components in industrial computers are made of higher-quality materials than residential computers, such as high-grade steel and aluminum. This adds to their longevity and durability.
Because industrial computers are often used in locations without easily accessible power sources, some use a combination of batteries and solar power, batteries alone or Ethernet. They don’t require as much power as residential computers. Industrial computers have processors that use advanced technology to minimize power consumption so they can function efficiently without sacrificing performance.
While residential computers have a limited number of I/O expansion options, industrial computers have multiple I/O expansion slots, and most even have serial ports to interface with older equipment. Having more expansion slots enables industrial computers to have the flexibility of accommodating more pieces of equipment.
While there are many similarities between residential and industrial computers, they are designed for completely different uses. Residential computers are great for everyday use, but they cannot withstand the tough environment that industrial computers can. When it comes to running powerful software and controlling complex processes in a potentially challenging environment, industrial computers are made to do the job.