Developers are often faced with the question of whether they should design a machine's control and HMI for an industrial PC or for a panel PC. Because setting the wrong course can lead to increased development costs later. Customers of Efco Electronics, one of the leading manufacturers of fanless industrial PCs for machine vision, automation and AI, can now easily postpone this decision until later: The IPCs of the Eagle Eyes family as well as the current generation of multi-touch Panel PCs use the same hardware and therefore have identical interfaces, such as the 16 digital IOs. The wide range of services also supports scaling.
When developing a machine, it is often not yet clear whether the control will run on an industrial PC or a panel PC. Sometimes both variants are required later, which then leads to corresponding expenses. The drivers of such developments are often the wishes of customers, which require appropriately adapted control systems. Instead of a panel PC, a powerful IPC must then be used, for example, on which several panel PCs for the HMIs are connected. Or only one panel PC should be used for a slimmed-down version.
Especially when scaling down, in many cases the savings in hardware are overcompensated by additional effort when adapting the software. Efco Electronics now offers a simple way to keep all scaling options open: The Eagle-Eyes series industrial PCs use the same hardware as the manufacturer's panel PCs.
This means that a powerful IPC with a separate HMI can be turned into a simpler panel PC that still has the same interfaces at any time and without any development effort. In the opposite direction, a panel PC is replaced by a powerful IPC, which then offers more interfaces and more performance, for example to process the signals from additional cameras.
Regardless of whether it is a panel PC or Eagle-Eyes IPC and regardless of the computing power: the 16 digital IOs are always on board, with the help of which Efco computers make a separate small control system for the processes unnecessary - and their programming and testing at the same time. Other customers also use these IOs to emulate more or less exotic interfaces, such as GPIB/HPIB/IEEE-488.
All Efco industrial computers have a DC wide-range input as well as extensive protective measures against overvoltage or voltage peaks, of course also for the interfaces and digital IOs. Based on the Eagle Eyes computers, two panel PCs are currently available in 15” and 21” formats. Both are fanless and have numerous interfaces, such as four USB 3.0, two DisplayPorts with up to 4096 x 2304 at 60 Hz, two GbE interfaces, several serial interfaces and two mini-PCIe slots for expansion modules. Also on board is a SATA and an mSATA interface for mass storage as well as an M.2 M slot.
For upward scaling, Efco not only offers IPC hardware with scalable computing power and variable interface equipment, but also robust network components for secure and reliable connectivity to the cloud. The range includes industrial switches, 5G/LTE gateways and 5G routers with comprehensive features and bus interfaces, such as MODBUS, an MQTT gateway, GPS, Bluetooth and numerous other industry standards.