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New Touch Panel Controller (TPC) for Automation and IoT

10 March 2015

New Touch Panel computers of Advantech already use the Intel processors of the 4th Generation (Haswell), which also shows in the higher graphics performance and reduced energy consumption. Advantech thereby reacts to current market trends such as distributed systems, the Internet of Things, and energy efficiency.

New or modernized machines and systems of the production and processing industry prove to have one remarkably consistent characteristic: They are equipped with operating stations (HMIs, Human Machine Interface) that have nothing in common anymore with the operating stations of the past. This concerns their external appearance with high-performance displays in the traditional 4:3 format with single-touch features or increasingly in the 16:9 widescreen format with multi-touch operating technology. This applies all the more for their “insides” where high-performance industrial PCs (IPC) can be found frequently. 

This kind of Touch Panel Computer (TPC) combines the tried and proven operating functions in smartphones or touchpads from the consumer world with characteristics of industrial suitability, such as continuous operation, omission of moving parts, low power requirement, high protection class, electromagnetic compatibility, etc. This is how TPCs are becoming HMIs, which are rightly deemed a new generation of automation platforms.   

Areas of use
• Automation systems of the present day often display complex topologies that differ from the traditional structure with control and operating station. Partial systems are gaining in importance, which are distributed across the complete plant and each of which is equipped with its own automation platform to handle control, monitoring, operating and processing functions. The communications paths extend to neighbouring or subordinated partial systems or directly connected field devices, in the same way as to the ERP level. This central task (all data runs via the platform) requires high processing capacity and operating reliability, a high-performance operating and visualization technology, as well as flexibility in terms of interfaces with other systems. These are requirements that can be fulfilled by modern TPCs. 

• In the area of the IoT (Internet of Things, in Germany: Industrie 4.0), the fast, secure communication among devices and systems and with the internet, while processing large data volumes (big data) at the same time plays a central role. This is the only way that the objectives of IoT regarding self-optimizing production, lot number 1 or higher product quality can be realized at simultaneously lower costs. High-performance TPCs are predestined for this purpose as well.
• Energy efficient (“green”) production is a further goal of modern industrial systems. TPCs contribute their share to this objective, too, wherever their design relies on the latest, energy-saving chip technologies.   

New Advantech-TPCs with i3 processors of the 4th Generation 
Advantech is known for the rapid innovation speed of its products for the benefit of the users. This is presently illustrated in the market launch of new TPCs, which are already equipped with the Intel processors of the 4th Generation and can cover the aforementioned areas of use in the optimal way. The new processors are based on an optimized micro-architecture (Codename “Haswell”) and are produced, like the predecessor series, with a structural width of 22 nanometers. The focus of this new development is a significantly higher graphics performance that is suitable, e.g. for faster scrolling at a simultaneously reduced energy requirement. Both serves to substantially increase the user benefit from TPCs that are equipped with these new processors.

In a first phase, Advantech is bringing four TPCs to the market, which are equipped with the new Core i3 Intel processors of the 4th Generation. At the same time, two monitor types were deliberately considered:

• The common 4:3 format, especially suited for SCADA applications, because the users can draw on the advantages rendered by increased graphics performance and low energy consumption, without having to change the existing screen displays of their application. The corresponding device types are TPC-1582H and TPC-1782H.

• The 16:9 format for users, who want to enjoy all advantages of the newest processor technologies and the comfort offered by wide-screen and multi-touch displays in addition. The corresponding device types are TPC-1581WP and TPC-1881WP.

All 4 device types support the iDoor technology of Advantech, whereby the TPCs receive a large number of interfaces and expansion possibilities by means of pluggable technology modules. This includes analog and digital IOs, field bus and Ethernet protocols, as well as wireless communications modules or connectivity for intelligent sensors. 

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