Can I Use An Industrial Box Computer As An Ordinary Computer?

- Mar 28, 2020-

Industrial & Embedded Computer, shortly call as industrial PC, has important computer attributes and characteristics, such as mainboard, CPU, storage, memory, peripherals and IO ports, and HMI and so on.

So, can the industrial computer be used as an ordinary computer?
The answer is no, as we can see the following reasons:

Ruggedized hardware features:
Generally speaking, the industrial computer we refer to mainly refers to IPC. To this type of industrial computer, the hardware is usually rugged designed. Its appearance is very “faithful and friendly", all the IO interfaces and styles are designed, and it is difficult to change; Compared with the flexible DIY of the commercial or consumer computer, the industrial computer is particularly rigid.
In addition, in order to achieve good dustproof, waterproof, and moisture-proof performance, many industrial computers use a full-sealed design. Some use internal fans to circulate heat in the air, and some use heat-sink and fan-less design.
Compared with the computer's "open" design, the "conservative" industrial computer looks like a brick, ruggedize and durable.

Sealed software eco-system
Personal or commercial computer is usually installed with Windows operating system, has a mature software system, audio and video entertainment is readily available. Industrial computer also can choose to install Windows operating system, but in many cases, Linux, Unix, or embedded OS are more preferred.
Compared with Windows systems, Linux and Unix do not have a unified software eco-system, but applications developed by various industrial enterprises. Therefore, it is easy to form a closed system with high system security. Products from different companies are often not interconnected; moreover, products from different periods in a same company might not be compatible with together.

The closed ecology of the software system allows the industrial computer to focus on application computing, such as dedicated to data collection, face recognition, industrial control, data analysis, etc., and the things handled are monotonous and specific.
Even if the industrial computer is installed with the Windows operating system, since the device is designed to meet special requirements and the hardware configuration meets the requirements, it will not pursue high performance. The operating system may not be the newest platform. Such an industrial computer does not have sufficient hardware resources to support additional applications and cannot meet the needs of redundant audio & visual entertainment.
It would be really boring to play on such an industrial computer that exists for work.


The best robustness
Industrial computers have considered various dust, humidity and other harsh environments at the beginning of design process. Industrial computers are usually used in harsh working conditions. In order to ensure the stability and reliability of the equipment and reduce maintenance, it is often designed as 7 × 24 "Workaholics" devices, with MTBF up to ten or twenty years.

At last:
The emergence of industrial computers exists to solve industrial field computing, and is the result of long-term application verification. It is not meaning a substitute for consumer computers. With the diversification of industrial applications, especially the emergence of new applications, such as industrial automation, commercial automation, 5G, industrial IoT, intelligent manufacturing, artificial intelligence, etc., industrial computers have become more powerful. Perhaps its hardware performance is not the best, but for industrial applications, the effect is the best.