hunterpi
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RPI for professional use

Wed Jun 19, 2013 9:35 am

In my company we are proposing to use the Raspberry Pi for a professional product.

The project would start with 200 units of a machine controlled by the RPI.

I can not find in the forums people who have used the RPI professionally. Do you think the RPI is ready to be installed into a final product to be launched for sale immediately?

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Jim Manley
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Re: RPI for professional use

Wed Jun 19, 2013 10:04 pm

It depends entirely on what you're planning on doing with the Pi. The hardware and OSes are about as reliable as anything else that's available, especially considering the price. The issues come down to ensuring that performance is what you need, especially if you plan to expose the GUI to users, and most particularly if a web browser is going to be used for unrestricted Internet browsing.

If you've produced commercial-grade computing products before, then you should understand what's required in terms of production-quality code and testing, but if not then you may want to ensure you work with someone who does know how to do that. Also, be aware that if your code depends on packages that aren't widely used and therefore may not be as thoroughly debugged as more popular packages - not all packages are created equal.

Since you haven't found much in the way of other commercial Pi stories here, it would be greatly appreciated by others who may also be considering using the Pi for commercial uses to hear what your experience is. Good luck and let us know how you found the process to be.
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OtherCrashOverride
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Re: RPI for professional use

Wed Jun 19, 2013 10:52 pm

hunterpi wrote:In my company we are proposing to use the Raspberry Pi for a professional product.
There is a difference in using a Raspberry Pi in a commercial product and a professional product. The former is possible with a caveat that the Raspbery Pi Foundation would appreciate a donation.

The later is more difficult due to the necessity to enter into contracts regarding supply and support. The non-profit nature of the foundation limits the activities and scope it can participate in so you will need to contact your legal department to find out what is feasible. There are other similar low cost products out there better suited to this.

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Re: RPI for professional use

Wed Jun 19, 2013 11:03 pm

Do you think the RPI is ready to be installed into a final product to be launched for sale immediately?
Yes. But you should have some computer skills, know Linux quite well etc., so you can analyze and solve the problems, which may occur, by yourself.

And I'm currently developing some professional products aroud the Raspberry Pi, with the Raspberry Pi being a central unit for automatization tasks, user-interfaces, data acquisition etc., and some of our professional customers want to use it, too.
(For some details of one of my products, look at the website in my profile.)

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Re: RPI for professional use

Thu Jun 20, 2013 5:50 am

If the RPi is controlling various parts then fine, but if its connecting to internet and the user gets to use the GUI, I'd have reservations.

The RPi's i've used are solid and more reliable than most computers I've used.

:D :D :D

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Re: RPI for professional use

Thu Jun 20, 2013 6:38 am

The former is possible with a caveat that the Raspbery Pi Foundation would appreciate a donation.
I,m sure that they would appreciate any donations, however I suspect they is no caveat - every Pi sale generates funding to the Foundation........
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hunterpi
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Re: RPI for professional use

Thu Jun 20, 2013 9:06 am

Thanks for all your posts

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Re: RPI for professional use

Thu Jun 20, 2013 9:46 am

there are systems out there that use / will use raspberry PI's in them -
you do not even need to run linux on them
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Re: RPI for professional use

Thu Jun 20, 2013 11:03 am

There is no way to answer this question without more details. What is this product going to be? What environment will it opertate in? What level of reliability does it require.

Let me just ask. Are you preparing for that Sunday morning at 4a.m., after your product has been instaled and running for 6 months, when 200 customers call you complaining that their machines don't run anymore and would you come out and fix or replace them? And for all I know the devices are all installed at the top of 300ft transmitter towers hundreds of kilometers away from anywhere. Most likely the SD cards got corrupted after a series of power failures and the things won't boot anymore.

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Re: RPI for professional use

Thu Jun 20, 2013 11:17 am

Heater wrote:There is no way to answer this question without more details.
I always thought of post such as this as rhetorical and for entertainment purposes. Asking random strangers on the internet with no qualifications whether a product is subjectively ready for production use in unquantified environments for unspecified purposes is, by definition, unprofessional.

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Re: RPI for professional use

Thu Jun 20, 2013 12:08 pm

If this is add-on for Raspberry Pi owners then I would image it should be okay, however if it involves a device built around the raspberry Pi and sold as a commercial product with a Pi inside it then I can see this being an issue.
It's probably best if you contact Liz with your "professional use" idea there maybe legal ratification for your proposal.

Richard S.

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Re: RPI for professional use

Thu Jun 20, 2013 12:45 pm

redhawk wrote:If this is add-on for Raspberry Pi owners then I would image it should be okay, however if it involves a device built around the raspberry Pi and sold as a commercial product with a Pi inside it then I can see this being an issue.
It's probably best if you contact Liz with your "professional use" idea there maybe legal ratification for your proposal.

Richard S.
Not sure it is an issue if its inside another product, although the Foundation would like a 'powered by Raspberry Pi' or similar. As for legalities (guarantee, liability etc), that's down to the complete product manufacturer, not the supplier of internal components.
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Re: RPI for professional use

Thu Jun 20, 2013 1:42 pm

OtherCrashOverride,
I always thought of post such as this as rhetorical and for entertainment purposes.
Yes indeed. Such things are always good food for thought.

Except in this case our opening poster has made reference to an actual product, expected number of sales and some kind of machine involved. We still have no idea what it might be and "professional" is not a technical requirement, it tells us nothing.

I start to worry. Depending on what it actually is I migh surmise that anyone who would ask such a question does not have the skills or experience to take on the job.

For all we know it might be a plan to use the Pi in some potentially dangerous application. I'm sure the Raspberry Pi foundation would rather not have it's name connected to any injury or death that occurs as a result.

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Re: RPI for professional use

Thu Jun 20, 2013 2:33 pm

Heater wrote:OtherCrashOverride,
I always thought of post such as this as rhetorical and for entertainment purposes.
Yes indeed. Such things are always good food for thought.

Except in this case our opening poster has made reference to an actual product, expected number of sales and some kind of machine involved. We still have no idea what it might be and "professional" is not a technical requirement, it tells us nothing.

I start to worry. Depending on what it actually is I migh surmise that anyone who would ask such a question does not have the skills or experience to take on the job.

For all we know it might be a plan to use the Pi in some potentially dangerous application. I'm sure the Raspberry Pi foundation would rather not have it's name connected to any injury or death that occurs as a result.
People use inappropriate equipment for jobs every day. It's not like its restricted to the Raspi. (Hammer + screw etc)
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Re: RPI for professional use

Thu Jun 20, 2013 2:51 pm

Indeed they do.

However if this were a forum for the users of a particular manufacturers hammers and someone turns up asking what size hammer he should use to drive some screw home it would be nice if the forum members pointed out that actually the hammer might not be the best tool for the job:)

As it is we don't even know what the job is.

Professionally I have seen the Pi used very effectively as a hammer. A big hammer to threaten the hardware development group with. When they say a job will take six months and cost 50000 euro in development, you can say something like "Forget it I'll just put a Raspberry Pi in there for 50 euros and knock up the code over the weekend". They soon come back with a much better looking estimate for fear of being out of a job soon:)

hunterpi
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Re: RPI for professional use

Thu Jun 20, 2013 4:12 pm

Let's clarify a few things that may help.
Obviously we do not intend to mount the RPI in a fighter jet loaded with bombs.

This is a vending machine that with a RPI as the internal controller. As you can see is not a high-risk project but nor a hobby project.

It is a machine that will sell and install in remote places and obviously can’t give problems at six months or hang from time to time. Although the process is not critical, it does handle cash and product dispensing and therefore it must have a professional solution. The power requirements of the processor and video are low, though it will have little screen the video load is very low.

Thanks for your posts :)

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Re: RPI for professional use

Thu Jun 20, 2013 4:46 pm

With all the schematics available on the internet, you may find professional advices of quality tests.
IMHO, RPI is really a great platform for embedded system development as a replacement of x86 pc linux-based controller.
Making RPi compatible modules available to the RPi community.
Goal: contribute demo code in github & instructables using RPi as core controller platform!
Lets fully utilize the open source force and chinese manufacturing cost

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Re: RPI for professional use

Thu Jun 20, 2013 6:48 pm

I'd think the RPi would be a great choice. Seems to me that I've read on this site that they don't mind one bit if you use the RPi in a commercial product, and in fact encourage it because it helps keep their cost low. Every sale supports the organization.

My guess is that it's the external components that are most likely to cause you trouble if you don't spec them well. SD cards, video cables, power supply, etc. Make sure you use the best possible, field repairs to replace those will cost you far more than the savings from using the cheapest available.

The RPi is very well built, but it is exposed, so it's your job to protect it and make sure the components attached to it are built to withstand the environment the end product will live in.

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Re: RPI for professional use

Thu Jun 20, 2013 6:55 pm

One thing that I don't think has been mentioned - (while I am really happy with all my PIs) - there seems to be a great deal of variation between Pi's. This probable is due to me collecting them at the beginning of the manufacturing process but not all my Pi's are created equal and have different power requirements for the same peripheral devices.

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Re: RPI for professional use

Thu Jun 20, 2013 7:28 pm

hunterpi wrote:Let's clarify a few things that may help.
Obviously we do not intend to mount the RPI in a fighter jet loaded with bombs.

This is a vending machine that with a RPI as the internal controller. As you can see is not a high-risk project but nor a hobby project.

It is a machine that will sell and install in remote places and obviously can’t give problems at six months or hang from time to time. Although the process is not critical, it does handle cash and product dispensing and therefore it must have a professional solution. The power requirements of the processor and video are low, though it will have little screen the video load is very low.

Thanks for your posts :)
Sounds perfectly feasible.

We have had a few posters here who have really been putting down the Pi as something that could be used in products and industrial applications. As with anything, as long as the use case is served by the Raspi, why not? As you say, you wouldn't use it to guide a missile, but there are huge numbers of other projects where it could be used with no safety or security implications whatsoever.
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Re: RPI for professional use

Thu Jun 20, 2013 7:48 pm

BTW one thing I would strongly reccomend is to make any critical partitions on the SD card (boot, root filesystem) read only. This dramaticaly decreases the chance of ending up with an unbootable system.

If you need to store permanent data then put it on a different partition and make sure your system can still boot at least into some form of recovery mode if it's unreadable.

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Re: RPI for professional use

Thu Jun 20, 2013 7:58 pm

OK, now that we know it's for vending machines, you absolutely must have a switch connected to a Pi GPIO pin that would signal if the machine is being tipped. Supposedly, more people have been killed by being crushed by vending machines they managed to rock over on themselves than lightning strikes, shark bites, and a bunch of other rare events, combined. If tipping is detected, then an audio file is played through the Pi's stereo output port that has someone yelling, "HEY, STOP THAT! ARE YOU TRYING TO GET US BOTH KILLED?"

In fact, I can see where a whole lotta fun could be had with a Pi-powered vending machine, especially if it were networked. The Japanese pioneered vending machines where you could pay for your goods using a cell phone, and I assume near-field communications (NFC) equipped vending machines have been fielded at least for trials (the major impediments being the limited number of NFC-equipped phones, standards, etc.). With a display and some buttons, you could put in games where a customer could win an extra product (mob boss and kneecap enforcer not included ;) ). All sorts of proximity-based services to make it easy to find the machines using mobile devices, even advertising their presence to anyone within walking distance who opts in to be notified. Social media check-in functions could be provided (the machine would make its presence known to nearby devices and services already logged into on the devices would do the secure check-in.

In any case, if you weren't already planning on it, I would prototype the machine, put it in one or more high-traffic locations where it would be easy to service when, not if, problems occur, and let people beat on it for a month or three. A camera with a view of the display/user-input devices showing what people were doing, synched with activity logs, would make it possible to discover unintended user interactions, as well as allow you to interact with users in real time (you need to warn them they're being watched, of course). Voice input would require adding a USB audio digitizing device.

Have fun!
The best things in life aren't things ... but, a Pi comes pretty darned close! :D
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In theory, theory & practice are the same - in practice, they aren't!!!

hunterpi
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Re: RPI for professional use

Mon Jul 01, 2013 7:46 am

Thank you very much everyone for your responses.

UTSAChris
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Re: RPI for professional use

Wed Oct 23, 2013 7:33 pm

This is a great discussion! As a freshly minted Automation Engineer, I've noticed that the RPi is generally even less expensive than speccing out and building a purpose-build microcontroller solution, if the controller needs to do anything complicated like communicate using TCP/IP, or run a display.

One question I have is in regards to reliability compared with something like a Freescale processor, like those used in PLC applications. Naturally I wouldn't trust a single RPi, but I'd like to see how two of them networked for redundancy would fare.

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Re: RPI for professional use

Thu Oct 24, 2013 5:12 am

Personally I would not use an Rpi in a vendor machine. I would expect the micro card to fail too easily and too often. I would preferr a system where a less flimsy mechanical soultion holds the boot memory. But it is rather easy to do environomenal testing, as example testing vibrations.

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