Intrinsically Safe Product Design Part 3: Production Quality Requirements

Part 1 of this series introduced the concept of intrinsically safe design for explosive environments. Part 2 described considerations for the definition of explosive environments and how geographic regions for device use can impact both explosive atmosphere characterization and product implementation. This blog describes regulatory and quality requirements for ongoing production and sale of an intrinsically safe electronic device. An intrinsically safe device is designed and certified to accommodate specifically defined explosive atmospheres as defined by the governing standards in the geographic locations where the resulting product is to be sold and used. Given the risk of injury, death, and...

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Intrinsically Safe Product Design, Part 2: Defining the Hazardous Location Environment

Part 1 of this blog series introduced the concept of intrinsic safety. Part 2 describes the characterization of hazardous environments with respect to intrinsically safe electronic devices. Internationally, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) is considered to be a benchmark in the definition of explosive atmospheres and certification of electrical equipment for explosive atmospheres via its IECEx standards. Additionally, various countries impose their own standards and requirements in defining explosive atmospheres. The ATEX (ATmosphere EXplosibles) standard is applicable to thirteen countries within the European Union. In the US, regulatory bodies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and National Electrical...

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Intrinsically Safe Product Design, Part 1: Introduction to Intrinsic Safety

InHand Electronics designs and manufactures portable and handheld electronic devices that must have inherently low-power operation and high computational performance. One application area for which InHand designs and delivers electronic devices is intrinsic safety. Intrinsically safe (IS) product is designed to operate in hazardous areas, such as explosive environments, by limiting the energy available for ignition. An intrinsically safe product simplifies deployment and reduces installation costs for devices used in explosive atmospheres as compared with other protection methods. Since intrinsically safe devices are certified to be used in areas with dangerous concentrations of flammable gases or dust (such as petrochemical...

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Embedded Board Designs, Rugged Tablets, and Human Machine Interface Possibilities

In many ways, today’s embedded board designs are driven by the need for agile, portable, and powerful access to human machine interface (HMI) information in the age of Industry 4.0 and IIoT. This is primarily because advances in single board computers have made it possible to move beyond the narrow and fixed information scope of HMI/SCADA tools. The growth of IIoT is on the verge of defining the modern manufacturing environment across all sectors. That growth can be seen in the recent Forbes prediction that the IIoT market will be worth $123B by 2021, which translates to a CAGR of...

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How Custom Tablets Will Drive Industry 4.0 and IIoT

The convergence of automation, big data, data exchange, next generation human machine interfaces (HMI) and a host of other technologies like augmented reality (AR) and digital twins are just a few technology forces propelling Industry 4.0 and the industrial internet of things (IIoT). But companies need a means of putting agile, powerful, and mobile control of those converged forces into the hands of operations managers, which is where custom tablets come in. In the new IIoT world, networks of sensor-equipped smart devices and machines can collect data for analysis and interpretation to reduce costs and waste while increasing efficiency and...

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Mobile Device Management and Rugged Android Tablets for Applications in the Field

Managing mobile devices in the field can be a complex challenge with numerous sector-dependent needs and challenges. Bring your own device (BYOD) policies are proliferating in the age of the mobile workforce, which presents many business and operational benefits. However BYOD presents numerous challenges, including inability to withstand operation in the field, user pushback to subjecting administration of personal devices to an employer’s information technology (IT) department and policies, and complexity that administrators face managing a wide variety of personal devices. Many BYOD devices include consumer grade Android tablets widely available at mass retailers. These off-the-shelf tablets may not optimally...

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Navigating GPS Alternatives for Custom Tablets and Handheld Devices

Custom tablets and other handheld devices, whether used for consumer, military, commercial, or medical purposes, frequently include GPS (Global Positioning System) to assist in determining current location and time. Specifically, GPS refers to the US owned and Air Force operated network of 24+ middle-earth orbit satellites. This global system has reliably been supplying location and clock synchronization services to both the military and civilian sectors since it became fully operational in 1995; however, it is not the only satellite system in use for freely providing location services. What you say? Isn’t the venerable GPS system the only satellite-based game in...

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Best Practices for Regulatory Compliance and Security with Rugged Tablets

The term “industrial tablet” has become a generic term for a wide variety of rugged tablets with many shared and disparate attributes to meet needs for healthcare, military, industrial, manufacturing and transportation among others. One thing they all share in common is their need to meet industry-specific regulatory compliance measures. The use of Android tablets for industrial applications is growing, in large part because of the open nature of the Android OS and ability to quickly develop application software. Underlying ARM processors provide a power efficient electronic platform. To choose the right industrial tablet, the tablet itself must meet specific...

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Security Methods for Medical Devices and Rugged Tablets in Healthcare

Modern healthcare utilizes a multitude of medical devices, including rugged Android tablets or rugged Linux tablets, for medical device monitoring, medical treatment, telehealth, electronic health record (EHR) access by caregivers, and much more. Increasingly, these medical devices are networked together, to remotely share information including electronic health records (EHR). With network connectivity, risks of data interception become a major concern. Securing Protected Health Information (PHI) data, whether on the device itself or during network transmission, through encryption is the best way to prevent data breaches. The scope of the data security problem can be seen in the 2019 HIMSS Cybersecurity...

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Balancing Processor Speed, Battery Life, and Use Case for Rugged Tablets

When it comes to a custom tablet, end users look for the best blend of properties that can fulfill all of the tasks in a given environment without compromising one quality over another. That being said, the order of importance of the mix of properties will vary to some degree due to particular needs and industries. The mix of properties of custom tablets includes the following: Speed Reliability Ruggedness Long battery life Cost effectiveness/ value Versatility Security Certifications (FDA, Intrinsic Safety, MIL-SPEC, cellular, etc.) The right mix of these properties for the best rugged tablet may be unique for each...

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