What Are Industrial PCs? Differences from Consumer PCs, Applications, and Advantages

Industrial PCs are used in industrial equipment in a wide range of industries. Industrial PCs are different in many areas from the consumer PCs that are sold by large electronics retailers for use in homes and offices. This article looks at the differences between industrial and consumer PCs, and the advantages of using industrial PCs.


Differences between industrial and consumer PCs

First we will look at differences between industrial and consumer PCs in terms of their forms and applications.

Features of industrial PCs

In addition to use as controllers in factories, production equipment, and other industrial equipment, industrial PCs are also used in many other industries, including for medical devices, mass transit, logistics and warehousing, and building management. Industrial PCs include configurations outside the familiar desktop and tower types, and one major feature is the wide range of forms, including embedded types and types with touch panel displays, that can be selected according to the application. Here, we look at the main applications that each form of industrial PC are used in.

Embedded PCs

Embedded PCs are a type of computer designed to be incorporated in production equipment, inspection equipment, vehicles, IoT devices, or other equipment. An embedded PC provides specific functions such as controlling equipment into which it is incorporated, communicating information, or user operations.

Another major feature of embedded PCs is that they are thin and compact so that they can be installed even where space is limited and at a premium, and are designed for easy embedding. In many cases, they include a CPU, memory, and other special semiconductors with a broader operating temperature range than commercial products.

Embedded PCs

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Touch Panel PCs

A touch panel PC is a product which consists of an LCD panel that provides touch panel functions and is also equipped with computer functions. It saves space because it does not have a separate body or keyboard like a consumer PC, and a major feature is that they can be installed easily in a wide range of places. Major applications include the operation panels for machine tools and other production equipment, as well as command terminals for production lines.

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FA PCs include functions that are tailored to the particular needs of a factory workplace. The shape is basically the same as a consumer PC. One big difference is that the functions are specialized to meet the needs of the location where it will be installed.

These PCs are used for purposes such as automation and control on factory production lines, but their use is not limited to only these locations. The introduction of industrial PCs is increasing in medical institutions, mass transit, facility management, logistics control, and many other areas.

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Features of Consumer PCs

Consumer PCs are desktop and notebook PCs that are sold at large electronics retailers and other shops. Consumer PCs can be used for general-purpose applications, so they are widely used everywhere from normal households to offices that perform administrative processing.

Thanks to mass production, consumer PCs can offer lower prices than industrial PCs, and the ability to always obtain products with the latest specifications due to frequent model changes.

Difference in supply period

There are major differences in the supply periods between industrial and consumer PCs. Here we will look specifically at the magnitude of these differences.

with the same spec

Consumer PCs

Consumer PCs undergo one or two model changes each year, and the period during which a product is supplied is generally around 2 and a half years. Compared to industrial PCs, the supply period is shorter and need to be replaced regularly.

Industrial PCs

Industrial PCs, on the other hand, utilize components that have long supply periods, and aim to provide stable operation over a longer period. Industrial PC model changes and supply periods vary depending on the manufacturer. However in general, they tend to be longer than for consumer PCs. At Contec, we aim for a supply period of around 10 years.

Difference in price

Consumer PCs are characterized by low sales prices owing to the fact that they are general-purpose and mass produced. They also use low-cost parts to achieve further price reductions.

However because industrial PCs provide specialized functions and the durability to withstand continuous use, they are difficult to mass produce and prices are high. As a reference, prices range from low-priced products under 100,000 yen to high-end products exceeding 1 million yen.

Four advantages of using an industrial PC

Industrial PCs offer the following four advantages.

More compact equipment

An industrial PC can save space where a consumer PC cannot. In particular, compactness is an essential requirement for embedded PCs. Touch panel PCs also require less space because they do not require the installation of a separate body or keyboard.


Lower costs

Although industrial PCs are more expensive than consumer PCs, because the supply period is long, they can be expected to provide large cost savings when considered from a long-term perspective of 5 or 10 years. In the case of a consumer PC, man-hours are required for each model change and OS version upgrade. Procurement and support systems are also complex because they must be managed separately for hardware and software.

In the case of consumer PCs, if a PC reaches its EOL (End Of Life) every 2 years, then the cycle of product selection and evaluation must be repeated 5 times over 10 years.

However because industrial PCs have a long product life cycle, you can expect to continue using them for around 10 years. Procurement and support are simple, and can be accomplished by communicating with the industrial PC manufacturer.

When adopting an industrial PC, the troublesome process of selecting and evaluating PCs as components is unnecessary, so you can concentrate on life cycle management for the equipment itself.

Lower costs

Environmental resistance and durability

Consumer PCs have a short supply period and they are manufactured to prioritize cost. However because industrial PCs prioritize long years of service and reliability, they have excellent environmental resistance and durability, and can provide stable operation over long periods.

Environmental resistance and durability

Special designs intended for continuous operation

One major advantage of industrial PCs is that they can be expected to provide stable operation in adverse environments such as temperature zones that exceed the specifications of consumer PCs. Industrial PCs are frequently required to operate continuously 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. In addition, there are many cases where stable operation is required in environments that are harsher than ordinary households and offices.

For this reason, industrial PCs utilize components that can operate in broad temperature ranges, and are specially designed to deliver continuous and stable operation in adverse environments.

Selecting the right industrial PC for each application

There are many advantages to industrial PCs that help reduce costs while delivering stable and long-term operation.

Contec offers an extensive lineup of many types of industrial PCs suitable for a wide range of environments and applications. Please feel free to contact us to find industrial PCs that meet your needs.

Contec - Your source for robust, reliable, carefully designed industrial PCs

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