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Thin Clients and Cloud Computing

Thin Clients for the Process Industry From the Control-Room into the Ex-Zone

| Author / Editor: Dr. Marc Seissler and Stefan Sittel* / Dominik Stephan

The Visunet Control Center provides convenient, efficient and centralized management of all Pepperl+Fuchs Visunet remote monitors and Box Thin Clients with the RM Shell.
The Visunet Control Center provides convenient, efficient and centralized management of all Pepperl+Fuchs Visunet remote monitors and Box Thin Clients with the RM Shell. (Bild: Pepperl+Fuchs)

End-to-end thin client solutions for the process industry — PC-based visualization of complex plants has been used in the process industry for years. The hardware components used for this often originate from an IT environment and were primarily developed for use in office scenarios. As conditions in the process industry are often completely different to those in offices, many devices are operated in scenarios that do not correspond to their specifications. At Pepperl+Fuchs, the industrial Box Thin Client device family has been designed specifically for use in a process environment.

Traditional “office” thin clients are designed to operate for eight hours a day. The new industrial Box Thin Clients (BTC) on the other hand, are optimized for 24/7 operation. This means that the BTC devices feature industrial grade components, which are designed for a wide temperature range of -20 to +60 °C. As a result, the hardware will remain available in the long term (more than five years) thereby reducing recurring qualification expenses. In addition, the devices have an extremely rugged design, avoiding moving parts such as fans and hard disks.

The robust, IP4x-certified housings also help to minimize the ingress of unwanted materials, which are frequently present in process-oriented environments. As the BTCs are specified for operating temperatures of up to +60 °C, they can be installed in drawers or containers under the desk without any problems. The lack of convection in such scenarios often leads to problems and device failure of “office” thin clients, which are only specified for temperatures of up to +40 °C.

* * M. Seissler is Product Portfolio Manager; S. Sittel is Business Development Manager HMI, at Pepperl+Fuchs, Mannheim/Germany.

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