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 7.3 percent through 2020. HMI is clearly a significant catalyst for monitoring and operational analysis when it comes to IIoT. Consequently, HMI must also grow to become an agile hub of easily accessible information across highly diverse and complex industrial environments.

HMI systems and software as well as the mobile devices that will access them must be capable of delivering a highly advanced and customizable data visualization and control interface. To meet this growing need for powerful devices in a small form factor, many manufacturers are turning to custom HMI device designs.

The modern embedded board is the engine that drives the capabilities of rugged tablet devices that are purpose built to meet highly specific needs and environments. Those capabilities only begin with the customized processing power, storage, advanced screen capabilities and streamlined connectivity. These and other vital capabilities, such as continuous availability and high reliability, are what enables HMI to be a powerful tool in a converged IT/OT manufacturing environment.

This convergence of integrated and accessible capabilities is vital across industries like energy and utilities, oil & gas, and countless manufacturing sectors. They all require access to these capabilities since they interface with complex machines, systems, and sensors that are often geographically dispersed.

Control engineers must have the capability of seeing all aspects of numerous machines and plans as well as the supply chain they serve to ensure optimum production and machine health. Harnessing the big data and analytics capabilities requires complex data visualization capabilities that are portable but otherwise uncompromising in visual detail and user experience (UX) capabilities. This requires putting powerful user interfaces and integrated features/capabilities in the hands of manufacturing operations managers via anywhere, any environment devices such as rugged tablets.

Leading embedded board manufacturers have responded to this need with single board computers that are made for complex applications that supply hefty processing power, versatile operating systems, broad and reliable interconnectivity, and support for high-performance graphics. That can translate to functionalities such as accommodating complex applications like overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) software, receiving and processing integrated machine alert status via email or SMS, digital twin visualization and much more. Embedded boards must deliver these features while keeping power consumption low in a rugged small form factor device.

Today’s leading embedded board manufacturers have created embedded system designs for IoT that meet the new paradigm of modern manufacturing. One where the industrial reality requires reducing the overall number of required circuit boards, and eliminating extraneous bus driver circuits and connecters to conserve space and streamline operations.

More importantly these manufacturers are accomplishing this while avoiding power, versatility or connectivity compromises. Their advanced embedded board designs and builds provide the foundation supporting complex HMI software and other IT/OT convergence processes that drive IIoT in the era of Industry 4.0.