PCs are now so versatile that there’s very little they can’t do. Whether you’re streaming 4K video or controlling the pumps of a treatment plant, off-the-shelf PCs can be the quickest, simplest solution. The key to making them the focus of your project is tailoring the software they run.
By rolling tailored operating systems onto white-label boxes designed to meet a client’s specific requirements, we’ve been producing tightly-focused kit for years. It is less expensive and less involved than you might imagine.
It all starts with a business plan. Before you commission a bespoke system, you need to know what you want to get out of it and, crucially, how it’s going to be powered. This will often be determined by the way it’s going to be used.
Fixed-location appliances, such as controls for utilities, are usually the cheapest, simplest projects, as less time needs to be spent on miniaturisation and paring down power consumption.
Portable hardware, such as boxes for streaming live events, is moved from site to site and only powered when in use. Although some miniaturisation may be necessary to make them easier to transport, they are still powered through the mains.
In either case, we use mainstream kit wherever possible – so-called COTS, Commercial Off The Shelf – specifically choosing components with a long roadmap and slow, plotted evolution. This way we can guarantee your bespoke hardware the longest possible working life and we will be able to start work on the initial design and build more quickly.
Once the hardware spec has been finalised, we can focus on the software, where our preferred approach would be to produce a customised Linux distribution. This way, we maintain full control of the manufacturing process, know exactly what’s running on the system and can be sure it’s properly licensed.
We’ll pare down the code to remove any unnecessary features that aren’t required and may pose a security risk. Then we provide a custom installer for the manufacturing process, which puts exactly the right software onto the box.
The benefits of working this way don’t only apply during the initial build, though. By keeping focus on the exact make-up of the software, we can more easily diagnose potential problems, implement updates and devise a field upgrade process that can be performed remotely to minimise downtime once the equipment is live. The result is a reliable, stable, tailored box that can automate repetitive tasks or become the hub of your whole operation.
By pairing off-the-shelf industrialised systems with customised software, we keep control of the project spec, guaranteeing stability without incurring the risks and costs of undertaking a custom hardware design.
Are you running your systems on mainstream, consumer hardware? Call us today on 01276 415787 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to see how a tailored device could save you time and money.