An electric vehicle factory in China began to use automated guided vehicles (AGVs) to reduce the labor burden at the factory and improve logistics efficiency to boost its overall production capacity. The company’s plant is spread over more than 40 hectares. AGVs can essentially replace people in certain instances for in-plant logistics distribution, moving around a factory and transporting engines, tools, or parts quickly and efficiently. They can also be managed centrally, remotely connecting to a control center through built-in management software.
At the electric vehicle factory, the AGV loads and unloads on the production line, and it employs a Cincoze (New Taipei City, Taiwan; www.cincoze.com) DC-1200 compact fanless embedded PC.
An embedded PC selected for this type of application has a variety of requirements. Because the space inside an AGV is limited, it must be compact and feature low power consumption to reduce trips to a charging system. A fanless industrial computer is suitable for continuous operation in a 24/7 production environment. Because AGVs use sensors and scanners connected to a computer to navigate, the embedded PC must be able to accommodate these multiple connections to capture data and complete multiple operational tasks. Because they are always moving, wireless connectivity is also necessary.
Factory environments can be very harsh. Heat and poor ventilation can cause machinery to overheat, so embedded PCs for these environments should have wide temperature ranges, be vibration resistant, and offer stable signal transmission.
The DC-1200 chosen for this application measures 185 × 131 × 56.5 mm and weighs 1.4 kg. It’s equipped with a quad-core Intel® (Santa Clara, CA, USA; www.intel.com) Pentium® N4200 processor with a TDP of 6 W. It’s multiple I/O interfaces include 2x GbE, 4x USB 3.0, and 2x COM for external I/O, one mSATA and SATA port for internal storage, and two full-size Mini PCIe slots for optional Wi-Fi and 4G LTE modules. CMI and CFM expansion support additional DVI-D/VGA/HDMI, 2x COM, 8x DIO, ignition sensing (IGN), and PoE. The unit has a cableless and fanless design, an operating temperature range of –40°C to +70°C, power input of 9 to 48 V, and vibration and shock resistance of 5 G/50 G.