Infinity Technology started providing Raspberry Pi as an option to replace PCs at industrial workstations.
The Pi functions as a gateway between the user and the server providing a Graphical User Interface (GUI). It can also run scanners and printers.
Raspberry Pi is a low cost, credit card sized small computer. It was originally developed as an affordable aid to teach programming for children. Now it is used increasingly in industrial applications for robotics and testing.
Plugged into a computer monitor or TV and adding a standard keyboard and mouse Raspberry Pi needs only to connect to Infinity’s web-based services and it can do much of what a desktop computer would be expected to do. It is robust and can be placed in a small confined area and, most notably, it delivers at the fraction of hardware cost when compared to the desktop computer.
Infinity developed a production system for an automotive supplier plant which delivers airbag assemblies to 4000 Bentley vehicles a year. The system at an Antolin Interiors plant in Kent gathers data from different devices at workstations and maintains the workflow at the supplier’s assembly line. As a part of the system development project, Infinity replaced some of the PCs at the workstations with Raspberry Pis.
Infinity’s and its client’s experiences of using Raspberry Pi have been very promising.
By setting up systems using Raspberry Pi at some of the workstations Infinity cut the hardware cost to the client. This brought the system cost down by 20% of the total project cost. Notable saving in an industry with tight profit margins.
The Raspberry Pi also permitted Infinity’s support to gain more control over the devices at the production line. The setup presented secure functions such as auto starting browsers (kiosk mode) and automatic login.
This production system has been operating at the Kent plant for half a year. It provides proof that integrating Raspberry Pi to industrial use is a viable option also at a larger scale at several points of a complex mission critical system. This could be applied more widely in component supply chains to develop more secure network connections.
The company is now providing Raspberry Pi as a hardware option to all its clients and the possibilities it provides seem immense. Consequently, a workstation equipped with Raspberry Pi has just been integrated into a second Infinity’s software running an assembly line at a T.T. Assembly Systems plant.