“In the Industrial & Embedded PC market,
System Integration is the combining of separate components
into a single system ensuring that they all function correctly together”
Where an embedded solution design is concerned, constituent parts can part or wholly consist of mechanical, electrical, electronic and software components to provide for the overall functioning of a system.
In terms of an industrial PC solution provider, the role of the Systems Integrator is to efficiently manage and harmonize the process of bringing together hardware, software – and any other required peripheral components to provide for a solutions specification & functionality.
Sourcing from multiple vendors (frequently, globally located) – it’s the system integrator’s responsibility to manage all aspects surrounding the procurement process & technical activities to ensure sub systems – and the system as a whole, functions efficiently and correctly for the solutions designated purpose.
There are a number of areas within the system integration process which need to be planned for – and focused upon during the design process where integrated systems are to be considered
Chassis design concerning the required thermal characteristics of the system. Where air flow is important, the system may need to be fan cooled – or where this isn’t practical, conduction cooled with consideration to the use of heat pipes or thermal interface materials.
Where shock and vibration are likely to be present in the working environment, the mounting and securing of internal components needs to be carefully reviewed to ensure a system’s working ‘up time’ is maintained. Additionally, where ingress protection neds to adhere to set (IP) standards, not only must the system be able to perform in providing protection to those levels, but also adequately manage the removal of heat from the system at the same time.
Manufacturability (design for manufacture)
As well providing the required functionality, it’s also important that the product can be efficiently manufactured – with ease & repeatability of assembly at the forefront of the initial thought process during the design phase. And as part of the manufacturing process, the finished system also needs to lend its self to ease of functional test.
Hand in hand with the ‘design for manufacture’ process, consideration to field serviceability to ensure a system can easily be repaired and maintained during it’s working life is a must.
Choice of Operating System (O/S) needs to be considered regarding the robustness of the application, particularly in the scenarios of unattended devices or geographically remote locations – and security, where the ‘lock down’ of the system is essential with activation of features such as Write Filters.
Certification and Conformity
De facto certifications for European and North American markets, such as CE and FCC need to be put in place during design process – ensuring safety compliances and declaration of conformities are met, ready for product release to market. Additionally, use of non-hazardous materials must be thought around to ensure compliance to RoHS/REACH/WEEE standards. And where industry specific certifications to ensure compliances are met in verticals such as medical, rail or broadcast (e.g. UL) then this is likely to further ‘tighten’ the design process to ensure strict or specific compliances are met.
Product Lifetime Availability
Specific markets (military/medical/rail) demand long lifetime availability of product – which means the design process must consider the use of industrial component parts in the integrated system, typically on an availability programs of 5 -7 years. However, it’s also important to consider the continuation of the products lifetime as a whole – and how this can be extended out beyond the confines of individual component lifetime availabilities. By working with OEM’s who ensure their components possess compatible upgrade paths, such that when an End of Life (EOL) situation is reached, components are subsequently replaced with the next generation, ensuring zero detriment to the functionality, quality – and overall lifetime availability of the integrated system.