In the Industrial Automation field where most machinery has an integrated display with a Windows desktop or an embedded Windows application running, it is important to focus on and invest in the technology enabling this functionality.
The variety of systems and platforms options is tremendous; however, they are all based on x86 technology. The range of applied form factors varies from a Top Hat Rail mounted SPS Controller to a typical 19” Industrial PC. But as I mentioned, they all have a “PC” inside, with all its advantages and disadvantages from easy to deploy to too hard to maintain. This PC hosts an Operating System and on top a more or less process critical (Windows) application. The administrative challenge in this fast growing market of visualizing machines and technical equipment is how to keep the hardware up and running as well as maintain the OS and application.
Dell Wyse Thin Client Systems offer new benefits to IA Market
The legacy approach is a “don’t touch strategy”. Companies define a system, create an image, freeze both, lock it away and connect it only to the factory floor network. Of course, this can help minimize maintenance costs on handling unexpected hardware changes, managing standard Windows updates and virus patches; however, it doesn’t prevent from new threats such as Stuxnet or Duqu. As long as there is a network connection, an x86 system can be in danger. Factory networks are no longer sealed, safe harbors.
There is no easy solution for these new types of industrial networks and system attacks. You could leverage a new generation of thin clients systems in an industrial environment to secure your data better.
This new approach does require a mindset change from the “old” philosophy of having a “fat” local PC Hardware, OS and application stack next to the machine. No doubt that this new approach will not work in all cases. There will always be a field for fully equipped ruggedized IPCs to control robotics or similar. But for many other applications, a small and robust x86 platform like the new Dell Wyse Z-Series, with a moderate CPU and powerful GPU performance, is more than sufficient.
From a pure hardware standpoint it’s small footprint, smart thermal design – based on convectional airflow without moving parts, it’s extensive configuration opportunities – such as the still urgent needed serial, parallel and PS/2 legacy ports, makes it extremely well useful for 24/7 Industrial Automation extended environmental scenarios. Also, there are a variety of mounting options to walls or behind displays.
What’s the difference between today’s fan-less box IPC solutions and the Dell Wyse offering?
The Dell Wyse Z-Series may look on the first sight like another small diskless PC; however, it is more of a solution. The Wyse Z-Series comes with integrated Windows Embedded OS on an up to 32GB flash and extremely useful onboard management utilities such as Wyse Configuration Manager (WCM) and Wyse Device Manager (WDM).
As mentioned earlier, it’s not a “Swiss-army-knife” solution, but it’s an option for customers in the IA space, who are looking for a powerful, small, semi-industrial PC, with integrated embedded OS and onboard easy to deploy managing tools. Combined with the power of Dell ProSupport and service capabilities, it can turn many Industrial Automation applications into carefree environments.
If you are interested in learning more about Wyse or our solutions for the Industrial Automation space, contact Dell OEM.