The Importance of Interaction
Amid all the new and expanding possibilities that modern industrial automation permits, one thing remains unchanged—the critical importance of the device that permits us to interact directly with the various automation technologies. It is this device—the operator interface—that allows engineers to put their vision into action through the machines they control.
Because every application of an operator interface (also known as a human-machine interface [HMI]) is different, with different requirements, goals, and needs, selecting the right interface screen means understanding your processes and all their surrounding systems thoroughly.
For 21 years, Maple Systems, a provider of operator interface services and products, has continually asked its customers for feedback about its HMI products in order to better understand the processes for which HMIs are increasingly used. What engineers want most is a full featured, cost-effective, custom operator interface solution that grants systems programmers and manufacturers the ability to support their products globally.
Maple System's newest product line, the Silver Series, was designed to address these requirements. Based on the company's HMI500 Series of full-featured, high-function touchscreen HMIs, the Silver Series incorporates all of the HMI500 Series capabilities and adds new features that make it possible to economically support the HMIs anywhere in the world.
Imagine that you are a systems design engineer based in Boston and you have been asked to design a control system for a company with manufacturing plants in Mexico and the Midwest and a corporate office in Seattle, WA. The corporate office not only wants a system that can communicate in either Spanish or English, but it also wants the ability to monitor events in either plant from Seattle. They'd also like to make programming changes without having to send an engineer to the plant. Finally, as the system's designer, you'd like the ability to support your product as needed from your Boston office.
The Silver Series has the ability to create custom HMI configurations that allow control systems designers to support their products anywhere in the world largely due to three features:
10BaseT Ethernet makes high-speed, global data transfer possible—whether around the world or across the production floor—through a direct Ethernet connection or across the Internet. This feature also allows for multiple HMIs located anywhere in the world to be monitored from a single PC.
Compact flash interface makes programming updates or troubleshooting program glitches in the field much simpler and less expensive than sending a programmer to the HMI location to make changes. Engineers create program updates on a PC, email project changes anywhere in the world, load the changes onto a compact flash card, and then load the card to the HMI whenever program changes are required. If no Internet connection is available, compact flash cards containing project updates can be mailed to remote factories.
Multiple language labeling allows a system integrator to design an HMI using multiple languages without creating a separate project for each language. The plant operator can select which language to use at the press of a button.
Broad controller support
The Silver Series, with 6", 8", and 10" touchscreen displays, also features a macro-scripting language, 256-color graphics, three types of animations, charts, graphs, alarms, panel meters, recipes, and more. The series is also designed to work with the controllers you use—with support for more than 85 families of controllers from more than 35 industry-leading manufacturers like Allen-Bradley, GE Fanuc, and Siemens.
HMIs in the Silver Series start at $495.
More Custom Solutions
Another need repeatedly expressed to Maple Systems by its customers is the need for a fully-customizable operator interface terminal that can fit into small budgets. To address this, Maple Systems offers the customizable, alphanumeric MicroOITs starting at $295. Features include:
User-definable keypads with global and screen-dependent function keys that can be programmed to suit specific applications.
Slide-in legends allow programmers to create custom keypad legends with custom logos, layouts, and colors that fit the look and feel of the system. The legend can cover any unused keys to guard against operator confusion, and unused space can be used for company logos or other information. The default legend slides out and the user can slide-in his/her own legend for a "built-to-spec" look. Once installed, the legend is completely sealed and protected.
Custom display design lets engineers create the display wanted with five types of screens including alarms, messages, recipes, menus, and help screens. Up to 500 user-definable screens can be created.
Multiple language support allows programmers to "split" the 500 available HMI screens into 2, 5, or 10 separate groups or languages. Once configured, screens can be created for each language by using the copy-and-paste function and then changing the language. When the control system is shipped to its final destination, the HMI operator places the HMI into the setup mode and selects the language to be displayed.
Click logo to download demo software.
Product and technical information, demo software, technical notes and informative articles are all instantly available at Maple Systems' Website: www.maple-systems.com .
808 134th St., SW, Suite 120
Everett, WA 98204
Return to top