An Overview of Industrial Electronics

Electrical devices are everywhere in everyday life, and they are widely used in businesses too, from payment systems to smart advertising. However, people often overlook frequent utilization of advanced electronics in manufacturing.

This article explores the development of hardware for industrial use, explaining the differences between consumer and industrial electronics design, and detailing the requirements for industrial-grade hardware.

Understanding industrial electronics

Industrial electronics encompasses devices and systems used in manufacturing processes. These include a wide array of machines and system components essential for production, such as power electronics, converters, electrical machinery, and motor drives (learn more about BLDC motor development). Key devices include control systems, sensors, measurement systems, communication tools, and industrial automation solutions.

While the design principles for industrial and consumer electronics are fundamentally similar, crucial differences exist.

Consumer vs. industrial hardware development

In consumer electronics design, cost-effectiveness and rapid production are primary concerns. In contrast, reliability is paramount in industrial hardware design. Here are the main features of industrial electronics development:

  1. Reliability: Consumer devices, though durable, often require reboots or servicing. In contrast, failure in industrial equipment can halt entire production lines, leading to significant financial losses. Thus, industrial devices must operate for extended periods without repairs, necessitating superior materials and components, which also increases development costs.
  2. EMI and overvoltage protection: Industrial hardware must endure high levels of electromagnetic noise and require robust EMI and overvoltage protection. This need for enhanced protection adds to the complexity and cost of the boards.
  3. Environmental hazards: Industrial equipment often operates in harsh conditions—vibration, extreme temperatures, humidity, dust, chemicals, etc. Boards are made thicker, use specialized geometries, and include features like vibration dampers, coolers, and heaters. Fluid-tight housings (IP67+) protect against moisture, while heavy components may be secured with screws to handle vibration.
  4. Thermal management: Industrial components must be heat-resistant to ensure longevity. Industrial-grade parts are used, and elaborate cooling systems may be implemented if these components are insufficient. This combination often proves more cost-effective than using solely industrial-grade parts.
  5. Sensors and controllers: Industrial sensors and outputs must be more reliable than consumer-grade alternatives to prevent malfunctions. These sensors also need environmental protection and are often separated from the PCB, connected wirelessly or by wires to the controller.

Common industrial electronics solutions

Industrial electronics solutions in manufacturing are aimed to optimize processes, save energy and materials, and provide predictive maintenance. Key technologies include:

  • Robotics and AI: Used in automation, quality control, and predictive maintenance.
  • IoT: Facilitates remote monitoring and management of assets and equipment.
  • Augmented and Virtual Reality: Enhances training experiences.
  • Cloud computing: Manages large data sets from sensors and equipment.
  • Power electronics: Improves energy efficiency.

Information required for industrial hardware development

For effective custom hardware development, detailed information should be provided about the device or system:

  1. Functional requirements: Define the device’s tasks and necessary features, including size and weight.
  2. Operating conditions: Specify the environmental conditions, such as temperature, humidity, and vibration levels.
  3. Industry-specific requirements: Inform about specific standards and regulations relevant to your industry.
  4. Testing and certification requirements: Understand necessary certifications and tests to ensure compliance and quality.

Certification and testing

Industrial hardware must meet various certification standards, such as:

  • FCC: US certification for RF-emitting devices.
  • CE Marking: EU certification for compliance with Directives.
  • EU RoHS 2: EU regulation on hazardous substances.
  • ASTA: Recognized mainly in Asia and the Middle East.
  • UL: Safety certifications for a wide range of products.
  • IECEx: Certification scheme.
  • NFPA 70: US standard for electrical installations.
  • ETL mark: North American safety compliance.


The integration of robots in manufacturing, artificial intelligence (AI), industrial Internet of Things (IoT) hardware, and other advanced technologies helps enterprises achieve various manufacturing process development goals. These technologies enable manufacturers to monitor diverse assets, resources, and equipment, thereby facilitating informed decision-making.

By implementing industrial automation solutions, businesses can significantly reduce or even eliminate the human factor in manufacturing, assembly, and quality control processes. This capability is why there is a high demand for industrial electronics and IT solutions in the manufacturing industry.

When developing industrial hardware, designers must adhere to strict requirements specific to such equipment. These include ensuring higher reliability, robust protection against environmental hazards, and more efficient heat dissipation. These considerations are crucial to maintaining the performance and longevity of industrial devices in demanding conditions.

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