Intelligent automatic systems and software platforms

Control Engineering International: Control Engineering China interviewed Albert Huang, Advantech vice president for Industrial Automation Group, about how intelligent automatic systems and software platforms will help develop Internet of things and intelligent cities.

12/04/2013


Albert Huang, Advantech vice president for Industrial Automation Group, discusses how intelligent automatic systems and software platforms will help develop Internet of things and intelligent cities. Courtesy: Control Engineering ChinaIntelligent automatic systems and software platforms will be applied toward development of Intelligent Cities and the Internet of Things (IoT) over the next five years, as outlined in the “Advantech 2018 China Vision” during the 2013 Advantech Automation Cooperation Partner Conference on July 12, 2013. The company’s new Chinese slogan, “Driving towards intelligent cities; become a leading example in the Internet of Things industry,” replaces its prior one, “Enabling an Intelligent Planet.”

The new slogan more clearly conveys Advantech’s corporate mission for today and tomorrow in the Greater China region. During the conference, Paul Luo, president of Advantech China, announced that the company will integrate and merge its automation and industrial PC divisions and form a larger business division for the Greater China region. Advantech’s industrial automation division will focus on vertical industries such as power and energy, traffic monitoring, production and equipment automation, environment and facilities monitoring systems, and intelligent agriculture solutions. The company also plans to actively push “iAutomation” as the framework of the Internet of Things development.

This major internal organization can be considered Advantech’s effort to boost the development of the IoT, which allows the company to take full advantage of its PC-based automation technology and provide a solution for industrial customers.

Cloud technology, software

Among the steps Advantech took to initiate its “intelligent automation” plan for the next five years, the biggest steps seem to be in cloud technology and software. It is an obvious change for the hardware-oriented automation supplier. Albert Huang, Advantech vice president for Industrial Automation Group, noted that the company’s latest three core automation products are: AdamNet, Advantech NMS, and WebAccess cloud service. 

AdamNet puts a programmable layer on its automation equipment (such as on-site information extraction equipment). It doesn’t require an interface to transfer data and support the transmission of cloud data directly, streamlining the process and satisfying communication needs through one network and industrial Ethernet technology.

Advantech NMS (Network Management Software) is a cloud-based automation equipment management system, which includes automation products provided by Advantech and its partners. Advantech’s automation equipment includes information extraction, controllers, I/O devices, human machine interfaces (HMIs), embedded industrial personal computers (IPCs), and more. Advantech NMS supports mobile devices and can be integrated with supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) and HMI. The IPC can be managed through the cloud, a new experience for the company and its customers.

Less configuration

The third product, WebAccess, an intelligent automation product in the IoT framework, is a SCADA system that supports cloud technology, but it also has a larger set of goals. Huang described Advantech’s long-term vision: “WebAccess aims to become a Totally Integrated Automation (TIA) Portal* to help Chinese people around the world.” (*TIA is the Siemens unified software platform.) The Advantage open system automation software will integrate multiple management tools with SCADA under a common intelligence automation framework, eliminating long-term difficulties that users have with settings when parameters have not been automatically transmitted.

Huang said: “Automation products created under the Internet of Things framework must be based on Ethernet, support the cloud, and use an open system. In the future, WebAccess will not only be Advantech’s cloud platform-based intelligent management portal, it will also be an open protocol-based management portal that could be connected to various equipment. For this goal, Advantech has been actively developing its smart biosphere.” The company established a WebAccess+ IOT application alliance in November 2012 and partnered with computer industry companies to accelerate related business models and WebAccess goals. “The influence of Advantech’s WebAccess+ IOT application alliance appears to be growing robustly,” Huang said.

- Andy Zhu is editor-in-chief, Control Engineering China. This appeared in Control Engineering China www.cechina.cn and was translated for the Control Engineering North American print and digital edition. Edited by Mark T. Hoske, content manager, CFE Media, Control Engineering, mhoske@cfemedia.com.

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