What are the Best PCs for Edge Computing in Oil and Gas
POSTED 01/24/2023 | By: OnLogic
When selecting the best PC for edge computing in oil and gas, it’s important to understand those unique requirements and what solutions can address them. In today’s Industry 4.0 world, operational and business decisions need to be made quickly and based on the best data there is to enable the right decision at the right time. This means that IT equipment is being integrated at the edge of networks in almost all industries. This includes the entire oil & gas industry regardless of which petrochemical they are producing. Visit the OnLogic website to read the original article and subscribe!
Top functional requirements: availability and reliability
The deployment environments for edge computing solutions in oil and gas are not conducive to your typical desktop PC. Whether they’re going to be placed at an off-shore oil rig or on an oil head in the Texas desert, you need a reliable solution for maximum availability of equipment. Reliability of your IT technologies is just as important as your OT reliability. OnLogic has PCs designed to meet the requirements of your next deployment. So what are the key considerations you need to know when deploying PCs at the edge and which OnLogic PC is a good fit for your needs?
Environmental considerations for the oil and gas industry
In order to maximize equipment uptime, you need to consider the operating environment. Some common challenges are:
- Wide-operating temperature: Deploying at the edge means dealing with the temperature swings at your production sites. Commercial PCs may not start at temperatures below 0°C (32°F) and may overheat at temperatures starting around 80°F (27°C). They may also have component failure over time due to hot or cold operating temperatures or if they experience wide temperature fluctuations. OnLogic has rugged PCs rated down to -40°C (-40°F) and up to 70°C (158°F) operating temperatures.
- Vibration/impact forces: Mounting your PC directly on machinery? A typical off-the-shelf PC with moving parts such as fans and HDDs can fail over time. OnLogic fanless systems contain no moving parts for increased reliability. Systems in our Rugged product line are tested using IEC and MIL-STD procedures. Our Karbon 700 units and Karbon 800 units are shock tolerance tested to 40G!
- Input Voltage: Your home computer needs AC power from a wall outlet. When deploying at the edge, you don’t always have access to 120VAC power. OnLogic PCs are equipped to take direct DC input from your industrial power supply. Our Rugged PCs are rated up to 9~48V so you can deploy flexibility with what power you have on-site.
- Particulate/dust: A fanned PC isn’t going to last when you have dust and debris getting into the system through the vents and electrically shorting out the components or getting in the way of moving parts. OnLogic Fanless PCs are available ventless which protect against dust and particulate ingress. Need a GPU for machine vision or other image intensive task? Our unique fanless hybrid solutions allow a fan to actively cool the graphics card or other expansion card in a separate compartment while keeping the motherboard and other sensitive internal components protected in the ventless and fanless portion of the chassis.
- Enclosure design: Depending on your deployment environment you will want to deploy your equipment in an enclosure to protect it from rain and snow. In addition, your other equipment deployed at the edge such as PLCs will need an enclosure as well.
- Regulatory/Compliance: Depending on your application, you may require Class 1, Division 2 rating (C1D2), a hazardous environment rating for flammable gases and liquids. Just like IP rated computers, these cost more than a normal rugged computer and you should consider whether you can locate equipment outside of those environments or use a C1D2 compliant enclosure for local equipment. (Applicability will depend on your environment, always consult your regulatory engineer.)
Options to configure the best PC to meet your oil and gas application requirements
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to edge computers in oil or gas applications. That’s why OnLogic systems are configurable based on your system requirements:
- System performance: It is important to consider how much performance you will need from your device. A data logging edge device may only require minimal processing power and storage, whereas a surveillance NVR doing machine learning inferencing to monitor remote sites for intrusion detection and managing massive amounts of data may require much more processing power, AI accelerators, and larger storage drives.
- I/O at the edge: For edge applications, you need to get your data from somewhere and often that means connecting legacy equipment. This means you need lots of I/O options to connect to local devices such as PLCs, sensors, and cameras. For data collection, you may need serial connectivity to take in data from Modbus devices, LAN ports to connect to your OPC-UA enabled PLCs, Power over Ethernet (PoE) for your cameras, or Digital input-output (DIO) for sensors. It’s also important to select local devices that will standard up to your environment.
- Wireless: So you’ve collected your data – now what? Your remote sites may not have a hardwired copper or fiber connection. Using wireless technology such as CAT M1 or 4G LTE, you can send data over the network using nationwide carriers. This removes the need for expensive infrastructure development or the need to send out technicians to collect data on site. You can also utilize Wi-fi and bluetooth to connect to local networks and sensors.
- Displays: Do you need to display the data to operators locally? For a plant supervisor, you can connect an OnLogic PC to multiple screens so they can view plant processes on their control system. This will usually require multiple display outputs such as DisplayPort or HDMI. For your local human machine interfaces (HMIs), you can use an OnLogic Panel PC to provide an industrial touchscreen computer for your operators.
- Security: With more devices on industrial networks than ever before, you need to ensure network and device security. A 2017 security study on IoT for Oil and Gas by Deloitte showed that the risk for the most vulnerable and most severe cyber attacks occurred in the production environments of oil and gas companies. These are the areas with the most IoT device integration. Securing your network and edge devices is key, and OnLogic offers Intel technologies TPM (Trusted Platform Module) and firmware PTT (Platform Trust Technology) on many systems. These modules provide intrusion resistance at network endpoints where cyber attacks are most common either due to lack of monitoring, failure of physical security, or vulnerability vs. virtualized resources.
OnLogic software partners for the oil and gas industry
Besides the hardware, you’ll also need to consider what software you need to load onto your system to meet your project needs. Many customers select what software they want before considering hardware, but it is much better to consider them at the same time since one cannot work without the other. OnLogic has strong technology partnerships for software to help make your solution more powerful:
Inductive Automation’s Ignition SCADA, (Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition) platform allows the operators to gather and act on data in real time. Ignition SCADA empowers plant supervisors, line operators, and business decision makers to make smarter decisions. To learn more about SCADA for industrial automation check out this blog post.
For example, let’s say you have an oil processing facility. You can take data in and display to machine operators at HMIs, provide a view of the entire plant to supervisors, and generate analytical reports for decision makers all along the production process from the intake pipelines to filling your delivery trucks. Ignition allows you to connect to different PLCs so you can usually use what you’ve already deployed onsite. OnLogic has partnered with Inductive Automation to create our IGN series: a line of systems pre-loaded with Ignition Edge, a version of Ignition specifically designed for edge deployments.
AWS Greengrass is an Amazon cloud service designed to facilitate Edge deployments. If you’ve already integrated AWS into your IT infrastructure this can be a great option. For example, you can deploy Greengrass Core Gateways to monitor your fleet of natural gas delivery trucks by sending back data such as GPS and tank information, facilitated by a 4G enabled OnLogic Edge PC, to accurately monitor your fleet of vehicles and make smarter operational decisions. OnLogic has a line of AWS IoT Greengrass ready PCs to get started. Once this data is in the cloud, you can leverage all of your existing AWS services such as AWS Quicksight to visualize data into dashboards or Sagemaker if you get CAN Bus based data back from an OnLogic Edge PC to do health monitoring and predictive monitoring on your fleet.
Red Hat Enterprise Linux enables organizations to extend the hybrid cloud all the way to their oil and gas assets which may be located at remote locations in inhospitable environments. Red Hat helps customers integrate new and existing IT applications, develop cloud-native applications, standardize on our industry-leading operating system, and automate, secure, and manage complex environments. OnLogic offers hardware that is Red Hat certified and engineered to handle a tough environment.
What OnLogic PCs are best for the oil & gas industry?
Now that we’ve established some key considerations for an oil & gas deployment, the question is what OnLogic hardware is the right fit for your needs? Our fanless industrial line is designed for deployments where temperature won’t exceed 0°C-50°C, and they won’t be subject to impact forces/vibration or wide-input voltage among other factors. Those features are part of our Rugged line.
For systems that don’t require a lot of processing power in our industrial line such as dataloggers, our CL210 and Factor 201 or 202 industrial Raspberry Pi computers can be a great fit. For more performance, for example doing heavy computing workloads at the edge, check out our Helix 500 .
For rugged applications, our Karbon series is the go-to for our oil and gas customers. For a lightweight edge gateway, our K410 is perfect, whereas our K800 Series offers much more high performance flexibility to process intensive edge workloads.
For specialty applications, our Panel PCs are a great choice for HMI/OIT stations, and there are options for both industrial and rugged deployments. Need rackmount servers for your HQ to run enterprise applications? We’ve also got Xeon Scalable and AMD EPYC servers available.
Whatever your computing needs for oil and gas deployments, OnLogic has got you covered with reliable computers customized to your needs. Explore our online store or talk to one of our solution specialists today.