In the next couple of weeks, Tranquil PC will be launching brand new products to take the next evolutionary step in rugged fanless computing. So, we sat down with our Director, Phillip Thompson, to ask him some questions about his projects and Tranquil PC.
Tranquil PC have been in business since 2003. What was the first project at Tranquil PC that you helped to design?
The Abel NUC which was the first fanless rugged NUC to market. Before this I helped with some input on design and some changes to current designs. Around the same time as working on the Abel NUC, I also worked on the Microclusters. Both products were launched around the same but to different markets.
From the current range, which product was most exciting to design and why?
From the current range I’d say it’s probably the soon to be launched IP66 machine. With the IP66, there was a lot of research and development involved as far as testing the panel entry system and coming up with ways to test the product. It was the most exciting design from the recent range!
What is your biggest challenge when are struck with an idea for a new product?
The biggest challenge I think is the balance of practicality with attractiveness of the products. So, when I’m working on a new product, I always start with a practical approach from a performance prospective and then it moves into assembly practicality. Once all of this is done, we’ve got to make it look good as well. There is no point in having a very functional product that looks terrible. I think that’s generally the biggest challenge but that’s what Joan, our new design assistant helps with. So, after I’ve worked from a functional point of view it’s handed over to him to, I suppose, jazz it up a little and make the product look a bit nicer.
What is your creative process when designing a new product?
I suppose from a technical point of view when designing a product we are trying to push the boundaries and be creative, offering innovative solutions that other companies aren’t.
Recently, there have been teasers about an IP66 model. What does IP66 mean for a product?
It’s the products enclosure rating from a dust particle and a waterproof prospective. The first 6 on the rating basically means it’s dust tight. There’s no opening for dust to get into the system. Obviously with the system being fanless anyway, there are no fans to actively draw the dust in. The second 6 means the enclosure can have certain exposure to water of water. We did test the product by submerging it, but due to the panel entry system we’re sticking with an IP66 rating because we are very confident that it can take high pressure water and jets.
When did you start working on the IP66 MRC7?
Around May 2018. It’s been a long process. Although the product has been ready in terms of design, it hasn’t been production ready until now as we’ve been focusing on our normal range waiting for other resources to become available in order to launch the product. From conception to running tests and having it ready for the clients it’s usually an eight-week process.
How long does this process take for the other products?
It changes from product to product but as an example, the MMD PC from conception to design and first production samples - that was around a six-week process. There weren’t as many variables on this product except the cooling which is what we specialise in. On the other hand, a Microcluster might take up to twelve weeks of design and testing, maybe even longer depending on the production run expectancy.
What does product testing involve?
It all depends on the product but generally with a rugged system, when we’re designing the system, we already have a good idea what kind of surface area we need to achieve on the model. Once we’ve designed the general enclosure the next stage is to add the fins on the product. Once we’ve done that, before we’ve cut any samples, we’ll run some thermal simulations to ensure that system is going to perform. We make the first sample and then put it through 24-hour stress tests to make sure it performs as expected. If the product is going to be going into high temperature environments for example, in the Middle East, we would run simulations in the oven that we use for testing. Whilst doing all of this we’re data gathering to use in the production process in the future.
What other projects are you working on now?
We’re soon to launch a product which is a high wattage AMD based system. With this PC we want to push the boundaries of performance. Usually our testing has been for a server environment when it comes to wattage, but this is a desktop environment so it’s a completely different process.
We’re also launching a range of NUC sized systems with less features than our Rugged NUC range which means a lower price.
When do you expect to launch it?
Is there anything else going with Tranquil PC in the next year that’s exciting?
We’re going to expanding our manufacturing capabilities which is exciting for me personally because my passion is manufacturing in Britain! We’re getting a new laser machine delivered in February which is going to increase our output. What takes six minutes in our current laser machine takes four seconds on the new machine. We’re making investments in our manufacturing process.
With this growth it’s brought in new, more skilled staff in particular areas such as Quality and HR to ensure we can handle that growth. As far as product range there are also some exciting things coming. We’re aiming to launch an 8th generation range of rugged PC’s to replace our current 7th generation. We’re looking at making some AMD EPYC servers later this year to add to our rugged server range.
We also expect to have a much bigger presence now in the industry by attending more shows and getting out there to meet people.
It’s an exciting time for our Director, and an exciting time for everyone else at Tranquil PC. We can’t wait to watch 2020 unfold.
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