why does industrial automation need an industrial pc?

- Dec 06, 2018-

In recent years, the development of industrial automation and industrial robot is very rapid, but there are two solutions in the automatic control system of mechanical equipment and robot: one is to adopt the control system based on PC; One is to adopt the control system based on industrial control computer. But in practice, the solution based on IPC is more practical. Although in the process of development, the control system based on PC has brought great changes to the automatic control of mechanical equipment and robot, but it has been repeatedly compared with the industrial computer control system in practical application. Indeed, there are many disadvantages and shortcomings. 

So why is PC based control very rare in real control? Why are automatic control systems more likely to use IPC? Because PC-based control systems are more vulnerable than dedicated controllers, they are more vulnerable to collision or other damage. Moreover, the application of PC based control system will make the startup of the control system more complex, and it is difficult to do well in cost saving. At the same time, the security of the system is also one of the important factors to be considered. So many times we regard the control system based on PC as an inefficient and potentially safe control system, which causes manufacturers to choose more dedicated controllers. 

When the security management software is embedded in the industrial control computer (PC), its basic function is to maintain the normal operation of the system. But there may be risks that we can't predict. For example, when a virus invades control software or resets a firewall, it can disable some of the basic functions of the system and paralyze it. 

The process control system is more sensitive to the interruption of the control program than the operation of the machine, and the paralysis of the system is more likely to cause shutdown, so ensuring the stability of the system becomes the key factor. If a robot's control system fails, then at best we stop the robot's production line, but if the process control system fails, it could cause the entire production line to shut down. And there will be a series of serious consequences. 

But now the hardware system of IPC has been very strong, they have been able to adapt to strong earthquake, high temperature and other harsh industrial environment, they are as stable and reliable as the traditional PLC control system. Many people associate industrial computers with windows systems, believing they are afraid of collisions and prone to malfunction. But industrial computers support Linux,windows or other vendor-developed software systems. And their reliability has been improved a lot: the system has real-time monitoring function, some users also use FPGAs and high-performance data processor, real-time control system runs on FPGA. 

Of course, the research on the rationality of control is continuing, especially in the field of control where backup systems are needed. For those who need to switch from one system without buffer to another, the controller based on PC has more advantages. With a DCS system, a single loop controller and some control systems based on PLC, the control program and software control are relatively independent, so the control of industrial control computer is more simple than the direct program control, and the operation is more convenient.