Operator Interface Outlook Clear, Bright
Operator interface terminals (OITs) come in a near-infinite variety of styles, shapes, sizes, colors, and personalities. They continue to proliferate on the plant floor—and beyond—through added features and functionality that help increase the efficiency and precision of operations. This healthy state of the OIT market is confirmed in a recent online study by Control Engineering and Reed Research Group. Includes user advice, and more than 20 photos and graphics.
Operator interface terminals (OITs) come in a near-infinite variety of styles, shapes, sizes, colors, and personalities. They continue to proliferate on the plant floor—and beyond—through added features and functionality that help increase the efficiency and precision of operations.
This healthy state of the OIT market is confirmed in a recent online study by Control Engineering and Reed Research Group conducted earlier this year. The views and opinions of the more than 350 respondents show that OIT products continue to be a critical part of the manufacturing operation, taking on more (and more complicated) tasks.
Results support many trends revealed in the previous study, conducted in 2006, such as the move toward flat panels and away from CRTs, and an increasing interest in wireless and open networks. Based on verbatim comments offered by respondents, in general they consider price important, but also say that OITs are not a place to try to save money. Many good choices exist for OITs, they insist. However, obsolescence can be an issue, with some warning prospective buyers to seek systems that will be viable several years down the road. Others caution buyers to look for specific features needed for the application, and not assume that one size fits all.
Focus on applications, features
Of this group of respondents, more than half apply operator interfaces primarily for in-plant needs (59%). About a fifth (21%) said they specified, recommended, or bought OI terminals for OEM (resale) requirements, while about as many said they do so as a system integrator. A large majority (86%) said they used the products for a variety of manufacturing situations including: industrial, commercial, agricultural machinery (18%); instrumentation, measurement, control systems, and related devices (16%); food and beverage (13%); chemical (13%); and pharmaceutical (11%).
The survey probed in detail respondent attitudes about features: those currently used and those planned or anticipated. In each case, the survey asked respondents to consider features in five areas: NEMA ratings, physical factors, operating system and programming software, communications, and applications and software support.
Looking at NEMA ratings, most respondents indicated they currently used NEMA 12-rated (53%) and NEMA 4/4x-rated (56%) equipment. About 20% said they wanted NEMA 12 equipment in their next terminal; 25% said they would specify 4/4x-rated equipment in the future. More than a dozen physical factors were reviewed by respondents. Most frequently noted features already in use included color (73%), flat panel LCDs (67%), touchscreens (67%), graphics capability (62%), readability in bright ambient light (48%), and a display separate from the controller (46%).
When asked what features they wanted most in their next terminals, respondents put readability in bright ambient light at the top of the list (54%), followed by readability from a distance (46%), larger screen size (45%), flat panel LCD (43%), graphics capability (41%), and touchscreen (40%). (See bar chart.)
Afforded the opportunity to offer comments about features, a number of respondents noted that they look, in particular, at factors such as screen size. Larger screens, said several respondents, enhance visibility, and color has become a requirement in most applications. Added one respondent, “Environmental concerns are considered first—such as resistance to vibration, heat, cold, water—then the programming environment, size, color. It has to hold up physically in the location in which you are going to use it or everything else is moot.”
Operating systems and software
Users say they want bigger screens, readability at a distance and in high ambient light, ruggedness, and wirelessness.
When asked about operating systems and programming software, respondents said they used PLC drivers (61%), Microsoft Windows XP (49%), and CE (23%) most in their current systems. Microsoft Windows XP (37%) and PLC drivers (37%) also topped the list of technologies desired in future OITs, but integrated databases (19%) and Linux (12%) were also well represented.
In the communications area, technologies most frequently cited as currently in use included serial (45%), proprietary network (35%), and OPC (34%). When looking at communication features for future terminals, however, only OPC scored among the top three at 22%. First on the wish list for future purchases was wireless at 40%, followed by open network at 32%.
In the area of applications and software support, respondents overwhelmingly have alarms and trending (72%) and graphics animation (56%) in their current terminals. Also noted were multiple spoken languages (21%), multiple programming languages (21%), Web browsers (19%), and thin clients (14%). Looking to the features sought in the future, alarms/trending and graphics animation again headed the list, each cited by 40% of respondents.
In other feature-related areas, the most respondents (35%) put the typical number of I/O points (tag references) for their OIT applications at between 101 and 500. Twenty-eight percent said the typical number was 100 or fewer. About 38% said their applications had more than 500 I/O points, with 18% falling in the 501-1,000 range and 16% in the 1,001-10,000 range. Only about 4% of the respondents said they had applications with more than 10,000 I/O points.
When asked about certifications and classifications, respondents noted UL listing (87%) as the one found most often in their current OITs, followed by CE mark (47%) and CSA designation (34%). They also cited UL-listing (72%) as the most often desired certification for future equipment, with the CE mark the choice of 35%. Twenty-seven percent said they would seek Class 1, Div. 2, while 25% would seek Class 1, Div 1 ratings in future systems. Currently, only 16% have Class 1, Div 1 rated equipment and 17% have Class 1, Div. 2 rated systems.
In the past year, nearly all respondents purchased at least some operator interface terminals, with the median level at just over 9.5 OITs per respondent. In terms of dollars, nearly 60% spent up to $20,000 on OIT equipment in the past 12 months. The median spending level was just over $16,000. (Detailed data breakdown are in the full report, available online.)
Looking at future spending, most respondents (51%) expect purchasing patterns in the next 12 months to remain about the same. However, 34% expect spending to increase, while only 14% expected it to drop.
The survey also asked respondents to provide details about how their spending patterns for certain OI terminal features have changed in the past 5 years, and how they expect them to change in the next 5 years. The largest segments said their spending has stayed steady for dedicated terminals (67%), thin clients (60%), keypads (58%), and wireless capabilities (55%); however, they have been buying more network enabled OITs (63%), color (58%), touchscreens (55%), and graphics (52%). In the future, outlays are expected to remain the same for dedicated terminals (58%), keypads (54%), color (46%), and thin clients (45%); however, significant numbers of respondents indicate they will be spending more for network-enabled (73%) and wireless (68%) capabilities, and for touchscreens (62%). A majority indicate that expenditures for color (53%) and graphics (54%) will also increase.
In the next 5 years, respondents anticipate spending more on wireless capabilities, touchscreens and network enabled features.
Narrowing your choices
The current market provides a lot of choice when it comes to OIT vendors and models. Respondents, overall, recommend looking for easy to use, easy to program OITs with quality graphics and connectivity capability. Versatility is important. Ease and flexibility of set-up and use rate high. Ease of training operators is also a consideration.
Advice varied when it came to choosing specific OITs: “Select equipment based not only on its ability to perform, but also on how effectively it makes information available to the operator, and how effectively it informs the operator of his options,” suggests one survey participant. “Choose an application based on performance and reliability,” says another, adding: “Choose what is best for the application, not the latest, greatest thing on the market.” Says yet another: “Do not limit yourself. You will use more points than you think you will when developing an application.”
More specific comments recommended users select “an interface that can be run from a bootable memory card so that disaster recovery is easy, even when custom programming is present”; “make sure your display is readable outdoors in bright sunlight”; make sure the system has available drivers for the application”; and “pay attention to heat dissipation in enclosed environments.” Another respondent reminded users that global needs are expanding for many: “If you have global needs, look for equipment that offers global products and that handles multiple languages well.”
Many respondents appear to have an eye on the future and recommend that others look ahead as well. “Make sure you can update and expand,” advises one. Offers another, “Email clients and Web browsers are very useful tools for plant-wide visualization and remote alarming/monitoring applications. Although these may not be requirements in your facility today, they certainly will be in the future.”
Operator Interface Vendors and Products
Control Engineering ’s 2008 Product Research on operator interface terminals highlights buying trends and relevant features. Full results from this and other user surveys can be found online in the Information Control section of the Resource Center, accessible via resource.controleng.com . Control Engineering subscribers, using a list provided, identified the following vendors as leading suppliers of operator interface terminals. Products shown are representative; additional models and product lines may be available.
OITs designed for easy use, installation, programming
Rockwell Automation’s newest family of OITs is the Allen-Bradley PanelView Component operator interface, created for preferred integration with the Allen-, and can program or transfer files through USB cable or over Ethernet, eliminating the need to install additional software. Additional features include an alarming system that supplies equipment event history even after the power is cycled. It also comes with integrated support for a variety of languages, including Russian, Greek, Chinese, Japanese and Korean. The product line is available in four keypad or touchscreen models starting around $200.
Mobile panels feature built-in safety
Simatic mobile panel 277F IWLAN from Siemens Energy & Automation Inc. is reported as the first wireless HMI to incorporate into its design two enabling buttons and an emergency stop button tested and certified to SIL3 standards. It has a 7.5-in. TFT touch display and 18 LED membrane keys. Rugged panel is intended for tough industrial environments; it has IP65 protection and has been drop tested at 4 ft. Its 6MB of memory can be supplemented by inserting a memory card into a multimedia combination slot (for archive and recipe data). Profinet communications network and USB interfaces are standard. Panel design incorporates safety features into previously certified Profisafe bus communication and distributed S7 Simatic safety PLC control to meet SIL3 safety certification. Siemens’ WinCC flexible 2007 engineering software is used to configure machine control ranges. A transponder limits the ranges to ensure fail-safe operator control and also defines zones where selected functions are configured, including automatic on-screen display or operator authorizations for persons entering a zone. The device is also available without safety functions.
Siemens Energy & Automation
Panels offer multiple features
Line of C-more Micro-Graphic panels from AutomationDirect includes high-contrast panels. Starting at $139, the 3.1-in. micro-graphic models, in touch and non-touch versions, feature white- and red-LED backlights and support five selectable screen colors. In addition to supporting all DirectLogic PLCs, Modbus RTU, and Allen-Bradley DF1 protocols, the panels have communication drivers to support Allen-Bradley DH485, Siemens PPI, and GE SNPX for Micro 90 and VersaMax Micro. Updated software for the units is available for free download from the company Website. www.AutomationDirect.com
Protocol enhancements provide connectivity
QuickPanel View products from GE Fanuc Intelligent Platforms, a unit of GE Enterprise Solutions, now allow greater integrated communications through collaboration with Kepware Technologies’ KEPServerEX. “By using Kepware Technologies’ software, we added 39 new third-party protocols to the QuickPanel View platform and will add 97 protocols for View Runtime on the PC platform,” said a spokesman. Integration of KEPServerEX and drivers into GE Fanuc’s Proficy Machine Edition View software lets users add drivers, devices, and tags as they did before. Tag variables are created only once; integration provides consistency in configuration from driver to driver and access to in-depth diagnostics for troubleshooting. QuickPanel View drivers are included in the Machine Edition View Development package. QuickPanel View integrates QuickPanel touchscreens with Proficy Machine Edition software to provide a variety of display sizes and scalable performance on a rugged hardware platform. Connectivity is provided by a family of serial, Ethernet and fieldbus interfaces.
GE Fanuc Automation
Compact panels from HMI software vendor
Compact panels from Wonderware, a business unit of Invensys, are described as the entry point to the latest integrated and scalable Wonderware HMI and SCADA software solutions. Panels bundle a subset of InTouch 10.0 software with rugged, industrial touchscreen operator panels running Microsoft Windows CE 6.0 software. They come in a range of screen sizes and comply with various industrial environment ratings, including NEMA 4X/IP 66 and Class 1, Div. 2. Compact panels are configured and managed via Wonderware’s new Development Studio, which is designed to enable IT and engineering teams to collaborate on software application modeling, development, change management, and deployment. Supported applications include InTouch 10.0 HMI software, System Platform 3.0 software, and ArchestrA technology-based application modules. Panels are designed for OEMs, machine builders, and customers requiring a local, yet networked panel-type solution.
Wonderware, a business unit of Invensys
Open graphic terminals are compact, robust
Telemecanique Magelis XBT GTW open graphic terminals from Schneider Electric are described as compact, simple, and robust. Units use Microsoft Windows environment to allow users to navigate the Web freely. Associating the equipment with Vijeo Designer configuration software is said to allow it to benefit from true multimedia functions. Applications include complex machines, automotive, and building infrastructure and automation. XBT GTW offers dual Ethernet connectivity, compact Flash card slot, four USB ports, PCMCIA slots on the 15-in. model, access to PC peripherals such as USB storage units (memory key, external hard disk, DVD player/burner), USB user interface (keyboard, mouse), and PCMCIA communication card (wireless network). Features include a comfortable user interface, high-definition touchscreen display, wide (160-deg) viewing angle, and optimum contrast and brightness.
Schneider Electric, Telemecanique
Economical touch panel for small machines
TFT touch panel, part of the EZSeries Junior from AVG Automation, features a 3.5-in. color display and is designed for small machines that cannot accommodate a 6-in. screen. Product features include a wide viewing angle with QVGA resolution, online programming, on-screen recipe edit, data acquisition over Ethernet or serial port, animation objects, screen and object password protection, and a built-in Symbol Factory with more than 4,000 symbols. Touchscreen includes a photo editor, alarms, and modem support. Unit supports a wide variety of drivers. A block-style connector is used to connect an external 24-V dc power supply. Ethernet and USB ports are available at additional cost. Basic unit is priced under $200.
Touchscreen OIT offers high resolution
HMI504T is the latest addition to the Silver Series family of touchscreen operator interfaces from Maple Systems. It includes a compact 4.3-in., 256-color TFT display with 480 x 272-pixel resolution. Features include wide 80-deg viewing angles from top, bottom, left, and right; brightness of 300 cd/sq m; and a contrast ratio of 400:1 for crisp, vivid graphics. Display size can be expanded with up to six, pop-up windows on screen at any time. Unit’s 12-24-V voltage range makes it suitable for applications from automotive and forklift to heavy industrial. Additional highlights include versatile touch objects for data entry; data monitoring with bar graphs, XY plots, and meters; alarm monitoring; realistic graphics and animation; and support for some 85 controllers from more than 35 controller manufacturers. Model HMI504T costs $299.
Touchscreen controllers, rugged PCs
Two new OI product families from Pro-face America include LT3000 series all-in-one graphical touchscreen controller and APL3000 line of rugged industrial PC products with dual-core processors. LT3000 family for OEM machine builders combines programmable logic control, encoder input, bar code reader port, and direct interface to drives and inverters in one compact panel-mounted unit. According to the company, all-in-one operator interface plus control simplifies a machine and makes it less prone to failure, cuts installation time, reduces maintenance, and allows smaller electrical cabinets and lower-wattage power supplies. Features include full graphical touchscreen interface and control with built-in I/O and expansion I/O options. Full set logic control functions are IEC61131-3 compliant. GP-Pro EX software for screen development and logic programming simplifies development. APL3000 series includes dual hot-swappable hard drives in a RAID configuration creating an automatic built-in data and operations backup system. HMI data collection and management functions can be integrated into an existing business system using dual Ethernet controllers that support up to 1000BASE-T (or 1 Gbit/s) to move data anywhere, fast. Pro-server data connectivity software directs the right information to the right people for increased operation intelligence. www.profaceamerica.com
Operator workplace with motorized desk
System 800xA Extended Operator Workplace (EOW) from ABB is an ergonomically optimized workstation designed to enhance the operator’s working environment and effectiveness with features that reduce fatigue and extend the operator’s range of understanding. Incorporating a large, contoured, high-resolution screen up to 3 m wide, as well as an array of up to six smaller monitors, EOW includes an ergonomically designed motorized desk that can be adjusted to suit the needs and working style of operators. Front projected display normally shows an overview of the process, but can show or incorporate any type of information: for example, a technical drawing or video of key locations in the plant. Individual monitors usually show process displays from different parts of the plant, but can also feature other data, including alarm lists, trends, operator instructions, service and fault finding information, and other documentation. Data are selected according to individual operator needs and all displays can be moved freely between monitors, or spread out over several monitors for enhanced visibility. www.abb.com
Upgraded OITs add memory, improve displays
Next generation PanelMate ePro PS operator interface from Eaton Corp. features increased memory; better display brightness, resolution, viewing angle, and temperature range; and faster application performance than previous models. New version is the same size but runs larger applications and stores and runs additional third-party software. It combines Microsoft Windows XP Embedded technology with the stability and reliability of solid-state hardware design; it also includes the company’s Protect Mode operating system and software protection to lock out unauthorized modifications and protect critical application programs and drivers. It offers integrated high-speed Ethernet, serial ports, USB ports, optional removable CompactFlash and PCMCIA, and a multitude of non-volatile memory and input devices. It comes with more than 100 OPC drivers for both Ethernet and serial connectivity to nearly any PLC platform or network, as well as a wide variety of drives, motion controllers, and databases. Outdoor Series OD models have wide-viewing-angle displays that are easy to read in direct sunlight, and are offered in sizes from 8 to 15 in. Model PS OD is rated for harsh applications.
3.5-in. touch panel computer
The TPC-30T 3.5-in. QVGA TFT LCD XScale PXA270 touch panel computer from the Industrial Automation Group of Advantechple standard communication ports. The interface runs Microsoft Windows CE operating system.
Hardened panel PCs with touchscreen monitors
NSA-Series hardened industrial panel PCs from Omron Electronics have built-in touch screen monitors designed to eliminate potential sources of failure that can compromise critical, continuous manufacturing operations. These PCs have no spinning hard drive, no fan, a self-monitoring circuit board, and RAS (reliability, availability, and serviceability) software that operates independently of the CPU so that the PC never loses relevant system status data should the main CPU board fail. The RAS can be programmed to reboot the system after detecting an operating system failure or application freeze. NSA-Series PCs are applicable as workstations in industries where the open platform of a PC on the factory floor serves control, monitoring, SCADA, and other data manipulation functions. Key specifications include a 4GB disc-on-module (DOM) hard drive running Microsoft Windows XP embedded SP2 OS, and an Intel Celeron-M 1.3 GHz OEM processor. Communications capabilities include two PCI slots, two USB ports, a PCMCIA Compact Flash port for extended storage, two RS-232C COM ports, PS/2, and one Ethernet LAN port. TFT LCD touchscreens come in 12- and 15-in. models. www.omron247.com
Omron Electronics LLC
Touchscreen panel with dual-Ethernet ports
G315 operator interface panel from Red Lion Controls features a 15-in. XGA (1024 x 768-pixel) display and dual, isolated Ethernet ports with separate IP addresses: one to allow simple communication directly from the panel to the machine level, the second for communicating with plant floor devices. It also offers two RS-232 and two RS-485 ports for communication to virtually any serial device. Dual Ethernet 10/100 Base-TX ports support multiple Ethernet protocols simultaneously. G315 panel also provides a USB programming port and an expansion slot for optional communications card and extended serial communication or fieldbus connectivity such as Profibus, DeviceNet, or CANopen. Standard model includes an integrated protocol converter, allowing the HMI to act as a communication hub between connected devices. Programming is done via the company’s Crimson 2.0 software; data exchange is achieved using a built-in driver list and drag-and-drop register mapping. PLCs can communicate with any drive, SCADA, and serial or Ethernet-enabled devices. Information can be recorded on a CompactFlash card for analysis or troubleshooting. An embedded Web Server provides remote viewing and control capability with no added software. Users can monitor and control an application or download data logs using http or ftp access.
Red Lion Controls
Enhanced OIs add intuitive development package
New and improved PowerView 8000 Series operator interfaces from Nematron Corp. include ViewBuilder 8000 development package. Series provides four LCD sizes to fit different applications: 5.6-in. QVGA, 8.0-in. VGA, 10.4-in. VGA, and 12.1-in. SVGA. All feature 65K color TFT LCDs with analog resistive touchscreens, three USB 2.0 ports, three configurable RS-232/485 ports, CompactFlash port, audio, and 10/100 Ethernet port. Easy-to-use software capabilities enable up to 2,000 screens, simultaneous connection to 16 controllers, Ethernet I/P protocols, peer-to-peer communication, and easy global data access. ViewBuilder 8000 software functionality includes advanced object libraries, historical and real-time trending, alarm and recipe management, Microsoft Windows True Font multi-language text display, support for .bmp, .jpg, and .gif files, and online and offline simulation. Combination of enhanced hardware and software is said to provide the performance and functionality of larger scale SCADA systems in a compact and competitively priced OI.
HMI offers industrial PC level performance
Power Panel 300/400 line from B&R Industrial Automation has a performance range previously reserved for industrial PCs, and implements BIOS devices (in the 300 line) and embedded devices (in the 400 line). Power Panel 300 models can be specified with Microsoft Windows XP embedded or CE operating systems and cover a range of PCs from thin clients and Web terminals to full SCADA systems. Power Panel 400 models can handle automation of complete systems to provide integrated control functionality and drive technology, and have modular interfaces for connecting peripheral devices for the process. Product is said to put integrated real-time control, visualization, motion, communication, and CNC in one device. Models range from 5.7-in. QVGA to 15-in. XGA. Recent addition features a 5.7-in. diagonal, VGA TFT display, and is described as “presenting a lot of information in a small amount of space and showing images in detail.” Entries may be made using the touchscreen or function keys.
B&R Industrial Automation
Outdoor sun-readable operator panel
Exter T150-bl-sr operator panel from Beijer Electronics meets the need for HMI solutions in outdoor environments. Latest addition to the Exter series is the first of three black sun-readable models reported to offer superior viewing performance in all light conditions. Unit reportedly provides same functionality and intuitive configuration software of the standard Exter series. It includes a high-resolution screen, TFT display, and dimmable backlight for night viewability. It is durable for outdoor applications and use in marine, oil and gas, and water and irrigation industries. Robust-yet-elegant design and exceptional readability are said to make the new unit also suitable for farms and vineyards.
All-in-one PC/HMI has color touchscreen
Vision350 power PLC and enhanced HMI from Unitronics features a color touchscreen, an improved processor, and diverse I/O options. Adaptable to most TCP/IP/serial protocols, the unit offers such communication features as Ethernet connection via TCP/IP, GSM/SMS/GPRS, Modbus, CANopen, and UniCAN, and includes free remote access utilities. Fully functioning HMI has a 3.5-in. display capable of supporting 3MB of application memory for images and 512K for fonts or about 250 images and 1,024 displays per application. Five programmable keys allow customization of function and layout. Enhanced programming features include trending, built-in alarm screens, and easy HMI language support. High-speed PLC allows for 1MB of logic memory and a scan time of 15et space, and wiring. www.unitronics.com
NEMA-rated with integrated touchscreen
NEMA IC Series fully enclosed all-in-one industrial computer from Dynics is a compact, NEMA 12 industrial enclosure system with a 15-, 17- or 19- integrated touchscreen. NEMA 4 and 4X models are also available. VESA rear-mounting pattern is standard; system can also be configured for top, bottom, side, or yoke mounting. Configurable, sealed cable access system allows bottom and rear cable access points. Quick-release system simplifies service. Computer chassis can be easily removed from the enclosure for swap-out or upgrade at the removal of two thumb screws. Touchscreen interface options include 15-in. XGA TFT LCD, 17.1-in. SXGA TFT LCD, or 19-in. SXGA TFT LCD. CPU options range from a 1.0 GHz fanless embedded system to a Core 2 Duo mobile system. Other features include Microsoft Windows XP or XP Embedded operating systems, dual Ethernet ports, PCI expansion slot, solid-state embedded storage drives, multiple serial ports, and four USB ports. NEMA IC enclosure is also available with a stainless steel NEMA 4X configuration. Among other accessories are a keyboard box and various pedestal mounts.
Wireless OI terminal also battery powered
QTERM-G58 operator interface terminal from QSI Corp. is a wireless, battery powered version of the vendor’s QTERM-G55. Handheld computer has a 3.5-in. color sunlight readable display and offers robust, rugged design for harsh conditions. Designed to support industrial and mobile applications, it is intended for rugged applications in manufacturing, forestry, agriculture, asset management, process control, robotics, utilities, and field service. Among its features are a 200-MHz processor; transflective color TFT LCD; USB device for programming and upgrades; 802.11 b/g wireless Ethernet (optional); up to 32 MB SDRAM, up to 8 MB NOR flash, or up to 8 GB NAND flash; -20 to 60 °C operating temperatures; 24- or 40-key steel dome membrane keypad with customizable keypad legend and logo; and robust Qlarity object-based programming for screen design and integration and application development. Unit is RoHS compliant and CE certified. An internal lithium-polymer rechargeable battery back with 10+-hr active life is optional. Vendor offers a demo unit to those interested in exploring how the unit will work in a specific application.
Graphic operator interface panels
V7 Series line of graphic operator interface panels from Monitouch HMI is designed for machine and process control. V7 family offers advanced machine/process level functionality while providing data collection, database connectivity, printing, and batch control. Equipment meets RoHS directives and has CE, UL, cUL, Class I, Div.2 certifications and marine ratings. Industrially hardened “real-time” graphic OIs range in size from 5.7 to 15 in. and provide HMI solutions ranging from simple, low-cost pushbutton and lamp replacements to high-end complex applications. Every model offers communication with more than 200 manufacturers’ protocols; allows for multiple simultaneous drivers; and includes data logging, historical alarming, recipe handling and barcode interface, scripting (macros), and more. Graphics and animation capabilities are available in a variety of screen types and resolutions. Line provides full forward migration compatibility for quick and easy replacement of legacy HMIs. V7 Series provides a secure data exchange portal between the manufacturing process and upstream business software and data logging and historian capabilities for data collection locally or remotely into Microsoft Excel or database applications. Production reports, labels, and barcodes may be printed directly from the V7 HMI via a trigger or time-based event. www.monitouchHMI.net
Monitouch HMI, division of Fuji Electric Corp. of America
Jeanine Katzel is a consulting editor for Control Engineering. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.
There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.
But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.
Read more: 2015 Salary Survey