Product Round-Up: Operator Interfaces (Part 2 of 3)

Using COTS forces vendors to adopt standard platforms

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As we pointed out in our Monitoring and Control software roundup (CONTROL"Feb. '03, p63), XML, .Net, and Web Services are the latest developments in the industrial PC world. Accordingly, several of the new and enhanced HMIs now come with the latest Microsoft operating systems (Windows Server 2003, XP, CE 3.0, CE.Net, or 2000), which support those vital pieces.

Still, adoption of this new technology has been slow. It appears that R&D money has dried up in the HMI sector like it has everywhere else, so several of the products you see in this roundup are warmed-over or slightly modified versions of last year's HMIs. Vendors may have added an Ethernet port or upgraded the software, but it's still the same old HMI.

One would think HMI hardware and software vendors would be stampeding new and wondrous products out the door, based on the glowing market predictions of ARC Advisory Group (www.arcweb.com). ARC predicts the HMI market will grow from $414 million in 2001 to $590 million in 2006, a growth rate of 7.3% over the next five years.

Alas, most HMI vendors appear to be dragging their feet. Perhaps they are waiting for the economy to improve. Or perhaps they are still trying to make all that .Net and Web Services software work with their proprietary HMI software. Life in the HMI marketplace is getting much more complicated these days, now that the requirements being put on HMIs are increasing.

ARC notes that HMIs are taking on attributes of traditional SCADA applications and running more sophisticated analysis functions, just as we described in "Jump Start IT" [CONTROL--March '03, p29]. Today's HMI hardware and software may perform IT functions, such as maintaining an asset management data base or process historian, or it may use its XML and Web Services capabilities to make the bridge between plant floor systems and IT software running elsewhere.

Following is the second of what will be three installments on OIs and HMIs. Look for the third installment to be web-published the first week of November.

Ethernet Enabled OI

The OptoTerminal-G75 works with the company's Ethernet-based I/O systems. The terminal can be used to monitor, send commands to, and receive real-time data from plant-floor equipment and other devices and systems connected to the company's hardware for automation, data acquisition, remote monitoring, and control. It has a 13x10.25 in. mountable color display terminal, standard Ethernet port, 10.4 in. diagonal 640x480 pixel color touchscreen, and soft keys.

Opto 22

909/695-3010 www.opto22.com

Panels Add Software

QuickPanel touchscreen panels are available with Cimplicity Machine Edition software and the Microsoft Windows CE operating system. The panels have 6, 8, or 12 in. TFT color displays, choice of Ethernet and fieldbus interfaces, and a built-in web server that provides access to data, panels, and logic via the Internet or intranet using any standard browser. The panels are UL rated for Class I Div. 2, A, B, C, and D, and ATEX Class 1, Zone 2.

GE Fanuc

800/648-2001 www.geindustrial.com

Hazardous HMI

The 1510N HMI workstation is certified for use in Class I, Div. 2, Groups A, B, C, D; and Class II, Div. 2, Groups F & G. The unit has keyboard and mouse connections; serial, USB, and Ethernet ports; and a resistive touchscreen. The system can be configured with Windows 95/98/2000/XP/CE 3.0, Embedded Windows XP, or Embedded Linux. Options include a 2.5 in. hard drive and a 512 MB Compact flash card.

HMW Enterprises

717/765-4690 www.hmwent.com

Handheld HMI Software

Instant HMI v. 2.0 software works on any handheld computer running Palm OS, Pocket PC, or Windows CE, such as Compaq iPaq, Dell Axim, and compatibles. The handheld computer connects to the communication port on a PLC or similar controller. It uses tag groups and preformatted scrollable screens to view data registers, I/O bits, timer/counter values, and PID parameters. Configuration is via menus and forms, and a tag manager routine allows the user to add, edit, or delete tags. Price is $95 for software.

Software Horizons

800/ 664-2000 www.InstantHMI.com

Cool Consoles

The Icon Series is available in dual and quad console models. The modular, ergonomically designed operator console is compatible with Honeywell process control systems, including Experion PKS, PlantScape, and TPS.

Honeywell

952/346-6314 www.acs.honeywell.com

HMI Software Upgrade

Enhancements to RSView Enterprise Series allows the company's operator interfaces, industrial computer hardware, and supervisory control software applications to use one common development environment. This common environment makes HMI installation and application development and training easy, and the identical programming functions eliminate the need to learn more than one program. Products include VersaView computers, VersaView CE platform, RSView Enterprise Series 3.0 software, and PanelView Plus, InView, and MobileView HMIs.

Rockwell Automation

800/223-5354 www.ra.rockwell.com

PLC HMI Reaches Out

The NS NEMA 4 operator interface can access information from PLCs up to three networks away from a single screen. Information can be accessed from an Ethernet network, a ControllerLink network, and up to two serial ports, all simultaneously. The four-channel video input module displays camera images from vision inspection sensors. It is available with 7 in. STN and 10 or 12 in. TFT color displays.

Omron Electronics

800/55-OMRON www.info.omron.com

HMI Software Has Web Browser

InteractX software includes 18 pre-configured, fully rendered panel tools for buttons, lights, gauges, and readouts. It supports graphics with true-type color, roundness, gradients, patterns, materials, and transparency. The software provides alarm management functions, an OPC client and server support network, and support for VBA and ActiveX. It has an embedded web browser and an integrated browsing tool for viewing web-enabled documents and media. The software runs on the company's PX Series PowerStation workstations.

Compumotor

513/831-2340 www.compumotor.com

Web-Enabled Touchscreen

The iPanel touchscreen comes with CT HMI software that can be used to graphically display data over corporate Ethernet, Internet, or wireless networks, enabling users to manage plant-floor devices from office, home, or field locations. It has NEMA 4/IP65 all-metal construction and ports for USB, serial, VGA, parallel, and Ethernet, and is available in five different models. The software enables users to build dynamic displays with an object-oriented, drag-and-drop configurator.

Control Technology

508/497-0335 www.ctc-control.com

CE-Based HMI

The PowerView/CE family of HMI panels run under Windows CE .Net, have a 200-MHz Intel XScale processor and a high-resolution analog resistive touchscreen, and are available with OpenView Machine Edition/CE HMI/SCADA software. Four models are available with STN and TFT displays ranging from 5.7 to 12.1 in., up to 64 MB RAM and 32 MB Flash memory, up to three serial ports, two USB ports, and an Ethernet port.

Nematron

734/214-2000 www.nematron.com.

Tough Trackball

The Model M725/0001 military Panel Mount Trackball is rated NEMA 4, shielded against RFI/EMI, and has HAEMP protection. It comes with a 2 in. diameter ball and three buttons, so it can replace a standard three-button mouse. Military versions are available with a MIL-C-38999 connector, commercial versions have PS/2 or USB plugs, and all can have optional LED lighting for the three buttons.

StacoSwitch

714/549-3041 www.stacoswitch.com

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