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Rugged Computing

Reliable Electronics for Harsh Environments

MEN's rugged and reliable embedded computers withstand harsh environments with extreme temperatures, shock, vibration, dust, humidity and chemical influence. MEN's electronics are designed for -40 to +85°C and dissipate heat by convection or conduction cooling.

The Need for Rugged Computing

Harsh environments as in trains, busses, aircraft, ships and other vehicles as well as in moving industrial automation or medical applications require ruggedization of the electronics. Also in smoothly conditioned fields of application it is essential to save power for the sake of the environment.

Thermal Management

Wherever electrical power is generated, there is also power dissipation, which heats up the components. This heat needs to be transferred away to prevent them from overheating. For semiconductors there is a maximum junction temperature, above which the semiconductor ceases to work. It heavily depends on the mechanical and environmental conditions, and also on the field of application, which way is the right way to dissipate excess heat.

Convection Cooling

This is the easiest method to cool board assemblies. It is done by guiding an air flow along the surface to be cooled. While the mechanical set-up is simple, some factors may turn out to be serious drawbacks, depending on the application. With flowing air, impurities and liquids can find their way into the device, and can do damage. Complex filtering equipment can reduce this risk, but then maintenance is necessary during the device's lifecycle. Cooling fans also have a limited lifetime, and their failure may lead to a total loss of some electronic components.

Conduction Cooling

This approach optimizes the thermal contact to conduct the heat from the source to the outer wall of the enclosure. This makes the enclosure itself a heat radiator. Suitable measures must be taken to minimize the thermal transfer resistance from the electronic component to be cooled to the enclosure wall. On the one hand, this is ensured by choosing the right materials. On the other hand, the boards inside the enclosure need to be placed in the right way, and the heat-conducting cooling blocks need to have such masses that optimum heat transport is guaranteed. For Rugged COM Express and ESMexpress conduction cooling is implemented via a 100% sealed metal housing:

Computers for Operation in Extended Temperature

MEN boards and systems are designed for the extended temperature range of -40 to +70°C (85°C). The hardware is either tested (screened) to verify their thermal behavior, or it comes with qualified components.

Shock, Vibration, Drop, Humidity, Chemicals

Rugged electronics imply safe and reliable operation of a computer board or system in harsh environments. Not only the interior components, above all the processor, need to be specifically designed for high industrial demands. To make a computer really rugged it needs a robust housing to withstand extreme climatic conditions. MEN is able to cover nearly every COTS board and even complete systems by a massive metal block to protect the electronics inside.

The Four Major Benefits of Completely Covering Electronic Parts:
  • Reliable operation in a temperature range from -40 to +125 °C using conduction cooling inside the system. If required, CCA technology can be combined with passive cooling, making forced air cooling with fans superfluous.
  • Protection from dust, chemicals or humidity within a sealed enclosure, also in combination with conformal coating.
  • Resistance against high shock and vibration effects by having the metal block containing the electronics firmly screwed to the carrier card.
  • 100% EMC protection thanks to the aluminum cover on top and all four sides, as well as the bottom cover of the carrier board.
Computers for Operation in Harsh Environments

MEN always designs and produces its boards and systems for reliable operation in rugged mobile applications. An own environmental test laboratory helps to monitor and prove the quality of the products.

Tested for Rugged Environments

Application Examples for Rugged Computing

ARINC 600 In-Flight Entertainment Server
ARINC 600 In-Flight Entertainment Server

The ARINC 600-compliant IFE-server is used for media streaming within commercial aircrafts and comes with two hot-pluggable hard drive shuttles.

Oilfield Server Platform & Router
Oilfield Server Platform & Router

Installed directly on drilling sites, this robust CompactPCI-based IoT system communicates with the operator’s data processing center in real time via GSM.

Mining Machine Control Platform
Mining Machine Control Platform

Using two standard ESMini modules protected by a fire-safe, IP67-protected housing, this control unit for mining machines withstands extreme conditions.

Track Measurement
Track Measurement

The track measurement system is based on a rugged customized CCA housing that is mounted underneath the train.

Intelligent Well System Control
Intelligent Well System Control

This control platform for intelligent well systems is realized as a pre-validated 3-slot 3U 24HP CompactPCI system with its own rugged power supply unit.

Vehicle Panel PC for Intelligent Farming
Vehicle Panel PC for Intelligent Farming

This custom-designed intelligent vehicle display is a core element of precision farming technology based on standard ESMexpress computer-on-modules.

Shipboard Command Desk
Shipboard Command Desk

The single board computer inside the CompactPCI system is based on Intel Core 2 Duo architecture with two 64-bit processors and state-of-the-art PC interfaces.

Aerial Refuelling Monitor
Aerial Refuelling Monitor

A rugged COTS computer board based on CompactPCI acts as the brain of a refueling monitor system.

Digital Camera Control
Digital Camera Control

Using standard-based embedded hardware with sufficient ruggedization, processing and graphics performance and IP connectivity changes the way movies are made.