This article was printed in CONTROL's June 2009 edition.
You’ve probably seen the ads for the new white LED replacements for light bulbs. They claim extreme longevity and power savings, while providing better illumination than conventional or compact fluorescent bulbs. AVG’s EZAutomation group has applied this technology to produce what the company claims is the first industrial LCD display HMI with white LED backlight—the EZ Durapanel.
“With CCFL bulbs you get a nominal 50,000 hours at 25°C,” says AVG CEO Shalli Kumar. “In reality, that works out to maybe 30,000 hours because of environmental conditions, depending on the manufacturer and the model. What we’ve been able to do is to produce an HMI display that will last for 100,000 hours. We’re extending the warranty on Durapanel displays to four years as standard.”
The new Durapanel is brighter than previous displays. The brightness is specified at 500 NITS, or 500 candelas/m2. This is as bright as the brightest standard desktop displays, as opposed to previous LCD touchscreens, which were rated at 300 NITS (300 candelas/m2).
“We had to turn down the backlight because the white LEDs were so much brighter than the CCFL bulbs,” claims Kumar. “We wound up reducing the voltage to make them less bright.”
The EZ Durapanel is supplied with drivers for nearly all PLCs, including AutomationDirect, Allen-Bradley, GE Fanuc, Omron, Mitsubishi, Modicon, Siemens, Square D and many more. Network drivers on most Durapanel models include A/B Data Highway Plus or Remote I/O, DeviceNet, Profibus-DP, Modbus and CC-Link.
Additionally, says Kumar, the user can select from a variety of Ethernet PLC networks, including DF1 over Ethernet, SRTP over Ethernet, Modbus TCP/IP over Ethernet, Ethernet IP, EZPLC/Ethernet and Koyo/ADC ECOM. “The Durapanel series is FDA-compliant and has built-in design protection for OEMs and system integrators,” he adds.
The EZ Durapanel is available in 6-, 8-, 10- and 15-in. sizes. Its features include a 0.09-in. thick touchscreen, higher temperature specifications (to 55°C) than former EZ touchscreen HMIs, a built-in antiglare screen and optional data acquisition over RS-232/RS-422/RS-485. “It has the fastest touchscreen response time in the industry—typically 0.75 sec,” Kumar claims.
Kumar reports that the Durapanel HMI series will include software and firmware features such as online programming, on-screen recipe edit and a built-in photo editor. The display uses vector graphics for the most effective use of memory, and provides distortion-free scaling of objects. Users can monitor tag values remotely, and the Durapanel permits remote monitoring and control via either the Internet/intranet or a modem. Event-triggered email notification is available on some models.
The Durapanel series includes features such as instant mouse-over colors, animation objects, project simulation, bitmap buttons, thumb-wheel entry objects, visibility control over objects, screen thumbnail views, Unicode support and detailed database management and syntax checking. Many models in the Durapanel series will be optionally equipped with up to 2 GB of local data storage on a standard SD card.
According to Kumar, the Durapanel series is significantly “greener” than previous LCD displays because of its much lower power consumption, made possible by using the white LCD technology for backlighting the display. “It will be 10% to 20% lower, depending on the model,” he says.
“Not only have we made a technology breakthrough,” says Kumar, “but we have also made a pricing breakthrough. For the first time, our customers can enjoy the benefits of an advanced 10.4-in. TFT touchscreen HMI costing under $1,000.”