10 Replies Latest reply on Nov 10, 2019 9:30 AM by Jan Cumps

    Seeking the 5 Most Interesting, Amazing or Exciting Industrial Single Board Computer Applications

    rscasny

      Single Board computers (SBC) are amazing little devices in their own right. They pack a lot of technology in an incredibly small footprint. They are used for all kinds of projects by students, hobbyists and professionals. They have been used gaming, telecom, and other automation applications. They are also used to inspire and teach programming in schools. Over the last few years, I have seen more and more attention paid to using SBCs in industrial applications. I've learned "industrial" in this context means different things to different people. Sometimes it just means a commercial product (e.g., media player, vending machine). I define industrial in a truer sense of the world: in a factory, in a machine, or in the field for control of actuators, etc.

       

      I'm looking to get 5 interesting industrial applications of SBCs. Do you have any in mind? If you do, leave a comment and tell me more.

       

      Thanks.

       

      Randall

      --element14 team

        • Re: Seeking the 5 Most Interesting, Amazing or Exciting Industrial Single Board Computer Applications
          ntewinkel

          Didn't they use a Raspberry Pi for something at the large hadron collider?

           

          I wasn't able to find that, but while searching found this pretty cool project by CERN, using Raspberry Pis:

          https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/raspberry-pi-cosmic-ray-detector-from-cern/

           

          edit: I guess that's more "scientific" rather than "industrial"

           

          Cheers,

          -Nico

          5 of 5 people found this helpful
          • Re: Seeking the 5 Most Interesting, Amazing or Exciting Industrial Single Board Computer Applications
            14rhb

            The main one that springs to mind for me is this. Many of the homemade 3D printers use an Arduino Mega 2560 SBC and an accessory board called RAMPS, and more specifically people are using that low-cost system to control CNC machines...which are IMO a more industrial application (although could easily just be in someone's shed at home) providing a cheap way of upgrading their existing industry machinery. The 'CNC' unit could be a mill, UV PCB plotter, PCB engraver, board engraver or laser cutter.

             

            [I've a spare combination of Meg/RAMPS and one day I'm hoping to use it on an 'industrial' scale for a wood router control.]

            4 of 4 people found this helpful
            • Re: Seeking the 5 Most Interesting, Amazing or Exciting Industrial Single Board Computer Applications
              Jan Cumps
              • The standard, not hardened SBCs can be the backbone for instrument automation.
              • The hardened ones can be the core for small size shop floor data collection / MES systems, and edge devices for exchange with cloud or enterprise services.
              • The ones with specific industrial hardware extensions (12-24 V I/O, CAN, RS-###, ...) can control small scale process automation, or be one of several Point-of-Action controllers in a distributed process automation setup.

              What I haven’t seen yet is SBCs certified for automotive applications. I’ve had the opportunity to review one that’s fit for use in railway rolling material.

              5 of 5 people found this helpful
              • Re: Seeking the 5 Most Interesting, Amazing or Exciting Industrial Single Board Computer Applications
                shabaz

                Hi Randall,

                Here's a project I worked on with a couple of colleagues. We used an off-the-shelf Intel Edison (the blue board in the photo has space on the right side to plug on the Edison module.

                It was for building control related purposes (factories and offices). It had on-board RS232 (the white connector near the left side) and long range wireless (at the top of the board), and could connect to various sensors (there is a connector on the underside for attaching another PCB, and also there's a GPIO connector for any future expansion).

                We kind-of styled the demo platform on the 2001 monolith, but in deep-blue : )

                Eventually the Edison went EOS, so we moved to BeagleBone Black (like we should have done in the first place.. a lot to be said for such a platform with >10 years guaranteed availability!).

                In the end, the project was on ice for some reasons, but it may be resurrected in some form one day.

                5 of 5 people found this helpful
                • Re: Seeking the 5 Most Interesting, Amazing or Exciting Industrial Single Board Computer Applications
                  anton68

                  The several types of wireless ad hoc networks can be considered as industrial, e.g. below some ones from Wikipedia page dedicated to MANET (the numeration is preserved from the link below):

                   

                  3.1.1Vehicular ad hoc networks (VANETs)

                  3.1.8Wireless sensor networks

                  3.1.9Ad hoc home smart lighting

                  3.1.10Ad hoc street light networks

                  3.1.11Ad hoc networked of robots

                  3.1.12Disaster rescue ad hoc network

                  3.1.13Hospital ad hoc network

                   

                  As an as an example for 3.1.12 inside large  industrial environment or inside a big vessel in case of catastrophe resulting in blackout an independent ad hoc network of SBC-based devices may be essential for safety people evacuation and infrastructure restoring.

                   

                  Such devices may have all relevant sensors and may provide all communication and navigation services and be used for sharing the information and for coordination. Been stored in the well known places and permanently maintained to a fully charged batteries in a normal situation these devices may be activated in case of disaster by personnel and form quickly reliable network spanning both people inside and outside rescue teams.

                   

                  Comparing the traditional walkie-talkies radios with the computer-based communications it is more and more clear that rich digital information may be important and even critical in emergency situations. To provide an example in support of rich emergency communications we can consider the eCall service which is a special mobile service intended to provide the enriched information about car collision from the special terminal deployed within the car to the nearest PSAP. Such enriched information in addition to the voice channel automatically established between the cabin and the PSAP includes also satellite positioning data, acceleration in the moment of collision etc. Although in this case the traditional mobile network is used and not the ad hoc one, the advantages of using computer  instead of legacy communication means should be obvious and SBC is a prime fit for this purpose. 

                   

                  ---

                  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wireless_ad_hoc_network#Disaster_rescue_ad_hoc_network

                  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ECall

                  2 of 2 people found this helpful
                  • Re: Seeking the 5 Most Interesting, Amazing or Exciting Industrial Single Board Computer Applications
                    skywalker1211

                    robot navigation and vision

                    traffic monitoring

                    IoT Gateway

                    integration with drone to provide live data analysis

                    2 of 2 people found this helpful
                    • Re: Seeking the 5 Most Interesting, Amazing or Exciting Industrial Single Board Computer Applications
                      dougw

                      What is your definition of a single board computer?

                      To me an SBC is a complete computer on one board - with processor, memory and user interface.

                      The user interface is the gray area - does it need an HDMI port and a USB host port or is it enough to have a serial port for an external terminal?

                      The first SBCs had a keypad and display right on the board - that is very rare these days.

                      My first SBC (AIM65) had a full keyboard, alphanumeric display and printer right on the board.

                      The SBC application that made the biggest splash here is probably PIK3A. The concept was good enough to be commerialized as PiCade.

                      However, it isn't an industrial application.

                      The only industrial application we use sometimes at work is an arduino that was part of a project where we sponsored some mechatronics students at a local college to design and build a pneumatic machine to run products through mechanical cycles for accelerated life testing. It doesn't have much of a user interface and the display is mainly just a cycle count, but it might qualify as an SBC by some definitions.

                      I think the Beaglebone Blue is one of the top candidates for industrial SBC platforms, although I haven't seen it in anything beyond robots and drones yet.

                      1 of 1 people found this helpful
                        • Re: Seeking the 5 Most Interesting, Amazing or Exciting Industrial Single Board Computer Applications
                          michaelkellett

                          I'm happy with your basic definition of an SBC, display optional - a control port will do.

                           

                          I think the reason that the popular and well known ones don't find many serious industrial applications is that in order to become popular they must be cheap and cover a wide range of applications. This means that they usually skimp on industrial features like long term availability and good real world robustness.

                          For example, in industrial applications connectors are a major source of reliability issues and it is very unusual to pick the cheapest with enough pins and an adequate current rating, but to make a cheap SBC this is almost exactly what you do.

                          The other issue is that the feature set on an SBC will rarely be a perfect fit, and while you can often stand having some unused hardware, all too often you end up needing an additional board.

                          The RPI compute board looks like a reasonable attempt to get round some of these issues but I'm not at all sure how successful it has been.

                           

                          My use of ready made SBCs is limited to simple test jigs and fixtures, very few have ever made it out into a customer's hands, and those few have been as test or programming aids, not in saleable products.

                           

                          MK

                          1 of 1 people found this helpful
                        • Re: Seeking the 5 Most Interesting, Amazing or Exciting Industrial Single Board Computer Applications
                          clem57

                          I think a good industrial usage for a SBC would be a network controller with real time interfacing between a regular Ethernet and a Lora/NB connection to another building with a compatible system. In this way a campus style network can be used without the expense of wiring between buildings.

                          Clem

                          • Re: Seeking the 5 Most Interesting, Amazing or Exciting Industrial Single Board Computer Applications
                            Jan Cumps

                            I ’ve had the chance to review 3 SBCs that are targeted for industrial use.

                             

                            Siemens Simatic IOT2020:

                            Based on the Intel IoT Galileo boards

                            Industrial specifics:

                            • industrial ethernet x 2 (option, std internet default)
                            • rs-xxx, industrial IO, busses as an option
                            • DIN rail mount housing
                            • IOT2020 for education, IOT2040 for industry
                            • UL/CE certificatied

                             

                            Harting MicaHarting Mica

                            Own design

                            Industrial specifics:

                            • ethernet, power over ethernet
                            • available with/without industry busses
                            • industrial I/o up to 24 V
                            • all connectors industrial, hardened, protected
                            • Hardened DIN rail housing
                            • applications installed as isolated containers. portfolio of 3rd party solutions
                            • Harting-Signed firmware only (linux kernel + virtualisation module). Solution containers don’t need to be signed.
                            • certified
                              EMC EN 301 489
                              Low voltage EN 60 950
                              Human exposure EN 50 364
                              Railway tested according to EN 50155

                             

                            AVNET SmartEdge IIOT GatewayAVNET SmartEdge IIOT Gateway

                            Based on Raspberry Pi

                            Industrial specifics;

                            • CAN, RS-232/485
                            • industrial i/o up to 60 V
                            • industrial connectors are ampeg terminals, strong
                            • strong DIN rail mount housing with cooling
                            • secure boot options to prevent update with non-signed firmware, wifi, ble
                            • Comes with AVNET cloud api
                            • HDMI

                             

                             

                            These 3 are made factory ready to be used in industry. The price differences are big. The hardened Harting, with it’s aluminium cast sealed housing and industrial connectors for even USB and Ethernet is an order of magnitude more expensive than the other 2.

                            2 of 2 people found this helpful