Meeting the High Expectations of Industrial Applications

Kevin Parmenter, Director, Applications Engineering. TSC, America



The large and diverse industrial market spans everything from IoT, robots, weather radar systems, motor drives and industrial lighting to test equipment, welders, power tools and forklifts. Some industrial systems, like standby generator controls and communications systems, must work on top of mountains that can only be accessed at certain times of the year, and process control systems are often found in areas that are not climate controlled.

Not only must industrial applications withstand harsh environmental conditions, but they must also deal with electrically hostile conditions. This includes surges, ESD and transients on both the AC power inputs. Plus, all the I/O that will certainly have to deal with proximate lighting strikes, misapplications and miswiring by the installer/user and still be expected to survive and operate properly.

Meanwhile, users expect more capabilities than ever. They also assume the application’s electronics will live the life of whatever they’re associated with – even when temperature ranges are close to or equal to the automotive environment. Many customers in the industrial market ask to see a Mean Time Between Failure – Failure in Time (MTBF-FIT) report and a reliability qualification report. The application’s components must be prepared to show automotive-level, AEC-Q qualification data even if they are not full automotive parts. If it is a sub-assembly, such as a DC-DC converter or AC-DC, it must be prepared with MTBF-FIT analysis to Telcordia (Belcore) and to MIL-STD 810 and UL508 – plus to safety testing, including to 62968 and even 60601 fourth edition, EMC, Semi F47 and more. Emissions must be tested for both susceptibility and conducted and radiated RF energy.

I had a customer who had a standard test for their industrial application where they opened a cabinet door and waved a 5-watt VHF and UHF radio around on transmit near all the various boards and sub-assemblies. This was supposed to mirror an application where a refinery worker would open the doors to check on something and key the radio. The system could not be affected as it would cause negative outcomes on the process to say the least.

Sub-assemblies today have become much more sophisticated. They are often connected to software that makes the entire system work. So, selecting sub-systems of power electronics, solid state relays, modules and more, requires up-front work. Customers must verify the claims of their suppliers for suitability since every component and sub-assembly must be reliable.

Today, many industrial systems are expected to work and last for a decade or more, and the availability of replacement components and sub-assemblies that keep systems operating are top of mind for many in the industrial marketplace. Moreover, emerging standards for cyber security are more important since large industrial control systems can be a hacker’s paradise if compromised. There are certainly myriad considerations for participating in the industrial market – assuming you can meet the standards and intend to participate for many years to come.