Handheld OI Focuses on Safety, Security, Lower Costs

June 12, 2008
Facilities Can Integrate Machine Data into Existing Enterprise Systems

In some machine installations, one person can configure and commission equipment by accessing the operator panel, while working on parts of the machine or cell. In other cases, in near-lights-out applications, a machine-dedicated operator interface (OI) is overkill. For machine maintenance or status checking, personnel with one portable OI that plugs in at each machine location could monitor an entire bank of machines, thus cutting costs.

Pro-face America, the North American division of Digital Electronics, has a new product aimed at just such applications. The company is expanding its AGP3000 product line with the new AGP3000H series of handheld, graphical touchscreen operator interfaces.

Increased Operator Safety

Safe and secure, the AGP3000H series takes into account the security and machine-operator safety concerns of most manufacturers. The Pro-face hand-held units with built-in, key-enabled switches limit operation to authorized personnel, addressing security issues. At the same time, the three-position, dead-man switch and hardwired emergency stop switch provide increased operator safety.

“With the new Pro-face unit, machines are more secure, tamper-proof and safer to operate, thus reducing factory floor mishaps,” acccording to Gary Labadie, Pro-face’s marketing manager.

“The PLC has all of the information you need,” says Scott Kortier, technical sales communications for Pro-face. “Users can just connect an HMI only when it’s needed. An operator can move the lightweight AGP3000H from machine to machine, connect with one cable to a PLC with a serial, Ethernet or fieldbus connection, boot up and see the machine status, change parameters or teach movements and positions.”

Reduce Setup Time

The AGP3000H also will reduce setup time. “Machine builders can reduce the staff required to commission a machine on location,” says Kortier. “By using the hand-held OI, one person can view and interact with the HMI while performing the complete machine setup. There is no need to walk back to the control panel to see the HMI. Just take it with you.”

Kortier says if a different HMI project is required, users can update the device quickly via a removable USB flash drive or CompactFlash. “There’s no need to have our GP-Pro EX development software available for every changeover, and that saves time and money,” he adds.

Rugged and Rated

AGP3000H operation is provided by solid-state construction (including LED backlight), security functions, built-in, hardwired E-stop and key switch. The unit is connected via a 3-, 5-, or 10-m cable. The cable provides quick connection for serial and Ethernet, E-stop and fieldbus communications, and can be disconnected at either end, making adjustment to the safest length for the job easy. It conforms to UL508, CSA and CE certifications.

Increase OEE

“For the plant supervisor, monitoring quality, process yield and overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) is facilitated by Pro-Server EX data connectivity and reporting software,” says Labadie “Facilities can integrate machine data into existing enterprise systems via MES, SQL, DDE, DLL, ODBC, Access, etc. The result is that users improve operations performance by sending the right factory data, such as recipes, alarms and productivity figures, to the right individuals, increasing the plant’s overall operations intelligence. ”

Reduced Costs, Improved Capability

“This combination of data connectivity software and portable operator interface not only reduces machine HMI costs, but also provides the opportunity for machine builders to offer enhanced troubleshooting capability using remote machine monitoring tools, while reducing out-of-office travel expenses and unplanned resource loading,” adds Labadie.

The AGP3000H series will be available August 2008 with user-defined function keys in 6-in., high-resolution TFT or standard resolution STN and monochrome screen versions. For more information call (734) 429-4971, email [email protected], or browse to