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Zytronic Provides Touch Functionality To APC Technology’s Hazardous Location Industrial Computer Solution

Zytronic has, via its Australian distributor JEA Technologies, once again been able to show the effectiveness of its Projected Capacitive Technology (PCT™) touch sensors in the most severe applications. A bespoke 15-inch version of the company’s ZYTOUCH® product has been specified by APC Technology, a leading producer of industrial computing systems, for inclusion in its latest ultra-robust platform.

The installation of electrical equipment in heavy processing facilities, such as oil refineries and chemical plants, can be very hazardous. In such demanding settings, flammable gases are likely to be present, so it is vital that every possible precaution is taken to ensure any sparks caused by electrical switching activity or fault conditions do not ignite these gases. To address this problem, APC Technology has developed an industrial PC with an enclosure which ensures that there is no possibility of an internal spark triggering an external explosion. The resultant enclosure/touchscreen design was then certified to the Exd (flameproof/explosion proof) standard.

APC Technology’s solution had to provide extreme ruggedness, while at the same time possessing a high degree of use-ability. A touchscreen interface was a logical choice, but the specification was certain to prove a challenge, as the front surface had to be very thick and completely sealed so that isolation was kept in line with IEC 60079.0/1 certifications and an IP66/67 moisture/humidity protection rating was maintained. Modelling and testing at APC Technology and Zytronic indicated that the sensor would have to be greater than any previously designed and manufactured thickened laminated and toughened glass to pass the stipulated pressure/explosion ratings. Furthermore, due to the nature of applications in which this enclosure would be deployed, the touchscreen specified also had to have the ability to be used by plant operatives wearing gloves.

Zytronic’s PCT touch sensors utilise a matrix of micro-fine capacitors embedded within a laminated substrate that can be located behind a protective overlay (usually made of glass) that safeguards against damage from external forces. This makes them highly optimised for use in difficult settings. They also support gloved operation. However, until now few applications had called for sensitivity through such thick glass.

“The design of this anti-explosion enclosure required a customised touchscreen which could perform to the highest standards while still enduring subjection to the uncompromising and potentially dangerous conditions found in industrial locations,” Ian Crosby, Sales & Marketing Director at Zytronic explains. “This project has shown Zytronic’s ability to push the envelope in terms of touch performance - consolidating our lead in providing sensor solutions in self-service, public access and industrial sectors.”

“We have worked successfully with Zytronic on the fulfilment of a number of customised designs in the past. They have delivered technology to us that we were not able to get anywhere else and were therefore the natural choice for this latest, highly ambitious venture,” states Scott Begbie, Managing Director of APC Technology. “During the design and prototyping phases our two companies worked closely together to give the enclosure a heavy duty user interface that could deal with the most of exacting performance demands. Zytronic’s engineering team provided all the support we required to achieve our goals.”