Thursday, January 19, 2017

"Elektronik" Interview Discusses Janz Tec's Raspberry Pi System For Industrial Needs

Experiences since the launch in 2015 of the Raspberry Pi Industrial PC

A year ago, industrial systems manufacturer Janz Tec introduced an industrial version Raspberry Pi system. For Janz Tec it was a test to see how the market would respond to such a low-cost system.

What kind of response did you receive to your introduction of an industrial Raspberry Pi at last year's embedded world?
Christoph Mühlenhoff:
A sur­prisingly positive one. We had ex­pected some interest, but not quite so much. And there were not just inquiries - several large projects have developed from it, with quantities up to many hundreds.

And, you are continuing to use the original Raspberry Pi 2 board?
Yes, but we have now developed our own carrier board to allow the system to be supplied with industry standard 24 Volts instead of a 5V power supply. In addition, it still has a se­rial RS-485/232 interface, a CAN and four digital inputs/outputs onboard. Furthermore, over the last year we have developed a more robust casing. It is still a plastic case, but made from a ma­terial with which we can more eas­ily control EMC problems.

In what kind of projects will the system be applied?
In industrial proj­ects, but essentially projects where the system is not responsible for critical, fail-safe functions. That means where it does not matter if the system should fail. Thus, not machine control but, for ex­ample, as a gateway or for obser­vation and monitoring of process­es.

When introducing such an in­expensive system the manufac­turer must inevitably face the question of cannibalization of his own products. How would you sum-up af­ter one year?
 Initially we had con­cerns that we might impede development of our higher priced systems, but the oppo­site has proved to be the case. Our rugged, high-quality industrial systems are control systems, and they cost accordingly. But Rasp­berry-Pi systems are, as such, not used in this area. And there, where they could be used, you might as well buy a system from Taiwan. Thus, we view Raspberry Pi as a door-opener to engage with new customers. If these customers sud­denly develop higher level requirements, we can always meet them with our emPCs - even though they cost a little more.

You offer industrial Raspberry Pi with both Raspbian Linux as well with a customized version of Linux. Is Raspbian sufficient for most customers?
Yes, well over 90 percent take the Raspbian. We have integrated the device drivers for our additional interfaces in this image. Customers could also do it themselves, but who wants to? - They want to buy it and use it immediately, without having to install any drivers. At this point we have not yet built a genuine, customized image.

Joachim Kroll, Elektronik

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