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Raspberry PI and Arduino in industrial environments

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July 14, 2017 11:47

My main concern with using the Pi is the heat from the chips on board. Broadcom devices seem to suffer badly from overheating, as they do in the BT PVR. I do not wish to have the Pi connected to LAN or to communicate with other machines, it's a stand alone application I have in mind, so I need to solve the heating issue and I suspect it will be OK.

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March 16, 2017 10:03

Wow, looks like there are going to be a few electricians out of work soon ;) If you need help with Arduino or Raspberry pi you can find very cheap technicians who can work remotely over the Internet. (search at or any hire a tech website) ie if you have some bespoke designed system and your original creator gets hit by a bus as long as you have a USB cable and original code then you have plenty of options to maintain the existing setup. It becomes more difficult when you don't have the original code, but luckily if you can show a technician your intent then the code will be pretty easy to reproduce to perform the functions needed. I say all this with some experience in developing long term solutions for customers using Arduinos, I feel comfortable in that they can get cheap help from either myself or anyone with the knowledge without requiring onsite support. Times are changing and it's exciting to be part of this change. Ensure to keep a backup of everything twice over too! The cost savings can be huge in both the cheapness of hardware and the long term automation effects on your business.

Cheers for the article!

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July 8, 2016 14:55

I sympathize with the comments from the electricians above. As a small business owner I come from the other side of this. My commercial greenhouse has 12 irrigation boom controllers that are 10-15 years old. At about year 8 the first control board gave up and we have lost several more since then. The electricians and the irrigation company solution is to replace the boards at $1100 a board. These boards control one motor, 4 solenoid valves, and sense magnets using a couple of hall effect sensors. Setup is with a keypad with a 4x20 lcd display.

With electronics and robotics as a hobby as well as teaching robotics to teens at the local library I knew that the electronics could be duplicated for a lot less. I recreated the board functions with a Arduino Uno, a high current motor control breakout board and a opto isolated relay board. The programming was no more complicated than the robot code my teens make. I did all this for under $100. The prototype has been working for over a year in the greenhouse heat with no issues. Yes my electrician just scratched his head when I showed it to him. It is my hope that the next generation will take these open source controls as just regular components to work with.

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July 6, 2016 14:44

In the book "Exploring Raspberry PI" by Derek Molloy (Wiley), the author points out that, as he understand it, "...the Broadcom bootloader license explicitly sates that its redistribution in binary form is only permitted if it will "...only be sued for purposes of developing for, or using a Raspberry Pi device.: It is unlikely that such a license would transfer to a product of your own design."

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July 6, 2016 00:04

I'm an industrial electrician with 15 years experience. I am familiar with a large variety of brand name control hardware and associated software - from PLC and HMI running production lines to individual programmable and configurable control components.
I love to tinker with Arduino and Pi and have used Arduino based designs for a variety of small, very non critical applications and for cheap prototyping.
Here's the thing: Maintenance. Everything I install or modify has to be maintainable. Pi, Arduino and other bespoke solutions just aren't.
Bespoke embedded solutions based on Pi and Arduino may work really well for the manufacturer and be up-front cost effective for the installer/customer, but they are a black box nightmare for maintenance staff. Electricians (by-and-large) are not programmers. They know "Ladder" and wiring diagrams. Any who know Ladder can work their way through Sequential Function Charts and Function Block Diagrams. Few would know Structured text, let alone "c" (Arduino) or Linux command line functions (Pi).
I do not know of any enterprise small enough to think a Pi/Arduion based solution is a good idea that is also large enough to have an engineer on site who can fault find the thing. Most such enterprises will have an electrician at best (or have one they use routinely).
There is a link in this article to a HVAC installation based entirely on open source Arduino and Pi based kit. Lord help the owners in 5 years. All the HVAC techs I know are baffled by Schneider "smart relays". This stuff is black magic to them. The owners of this system presumable got a cost effective install. Now they are locked into obtaining support from the original installer for the entire lifetime of the system, unless they want to employ a suitable experienced engineer (if they can fined one) to take it on at a substantially greater cost.
I have experienced first hand what it is like to be left with such a HVAC system. 5 years after installation, I had to explain to the increasingly frustrated owner that nobody on earth but the original installer (now not returning the owners calls) could do anything to fix it. We then set about the long and expensive process of slowly replacing each component as it failed with off-the-shelf, standardised, well documented MAINTAINABLE components.

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July 5, 2016 09:44

Yes, the Raspberr y Pi is excellent for use within industrial environments. I am in the process of converting all of my PIC industrial controllers to Raspberry Pi boards together with opto/galvanically isolated input output boards and 24-bit isolated ADC boards.

The 3 opto isolated interface boards were designed for direct connection to all versions of the Raspberry Pi, including the RPI2 and new RPI3. This is to allow the Raspberry Pi to be used in schools, colleges, universities, industry and hobbyists so that the Raspberry Pi can be safely connected to the outside world without the danger of causing damage or glitches due to earth loops and different potentials on the inputs and outputs.

The 3 boards received excellent reviews in the Dec 2014, Feb 2015 and Apr 2015 issues of EPE (Everyday Practical Electronics) Magazine and are also included in their 'Teach-In 6' book. A very detailed manual of over 100 pages comes with them and software is included with the boards so as to get the user going quickly.

The boards also connect to ALL micros, embedded systems, Microchip PICs, Atmels, Arduino boards, etc, to allow full isolation between inputs and the micro boards and between the micro boards and outputs. Everything can be at different potentials as found in industry.

The 3 interfaces are:

• RPI16IN: 16 channel 5V AC/DC opto isolated inputs with LED channel indicators, 8 boards allow 128 inputs.

• RPI16OUT: 16 channel 100V at 60mA opto isolated outputs with LED channel indicators, 8 boards allow 128 outputs.

• RPIADCISOL: 6 channel 24-bit ADC, where 4 are isolated (with their own individual on-board power isolated power supplies) and 2 are direct connect. All inputs are differential input 24-bit ADC channels, uses MCP3913 ADC, with Programmable Gain Amplifiers to give a differential input range from ±0.01875 to ±0.600V, Programmable Sampling Rate and Phase Delay Compensation between channels. There are an additional 8 digital opto inputs and 8 digital opto outputs for use in other applications such as PWM.

The boards are manufactured in the UK by Zeal Electronics Ltd who are based in Chesterfield and are a UK ISO9001 Accredited Company, testing traceable to UK calibration standards and these can be seen at

I am enjoying using the Raspberry Pi in all future projects.

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