Human-Machine Interface eNewsletter for July 2003


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Users demand tangible returns from mobile computers

An increasing number of users are demanding a tangible TCO (total cost of ownership) and ROI (return on investment) from mobile computer vendors, a recently released survey shows. '' Global Markets for Rugged Mobile Computers, Applications Software and Systems Integration Services: Second Edition ,'' a study from Venture Development Corp. (VDC), found, however, that the environment in which mobile devices are used is still the biggest factor affecting the purchase of such equipment.

''With budgets increasingly being squeezed, more customers are facing a daunting challenge to show positive ROI and attractive TCO models in order to justify deployments of rugged mobile computing solutions,'' observed Tim Shea, VDC senior industry analyst. VDC believes TCO and ROI are such important issues that it plans to conduct an extensive analysis of the factors end users consider when conducting a TCO analysis. Points to be examined include the true costs of downtime, resources, and time incurred when a mobile computing device fails in the field.

Click here for more on the survey.

Significant progress made in nanotube technology

Recent advances in carbon nanotube research have the potential to reduce the cost of large, flat-panel displays, Motorola Labs has announced.

The applied research arm of Motorola Inc., says it has achieved ''exciting results'' from its carbon nanotechnology research. Called ''nano emissive display'' or NED, the technology lets manufacturers design large flat-panel displays that exceed the image quality characteristics of plasma and LCD screens at a lower cost. Carbon nanotubes, or CNTs, are tubes of carbon atoms less than a nanometer -– one billionth of a meter -– in diameter. CNTs possess a combination of unique properties that make them highly programmable for a variety of purposes, including flat-panel displays.

Click here to learn more .

HMIs play key role in squeezing costs out of manufacturing

HMIs that let operators assess a process as quickly and efficiently as possible are among the factors that help squeeze the costs out of manufacturing, according a manufacturing technology manager from Kemet Electronics Corp. , Greenville, SC. Joseph A. Jansen, shared his ideas for reducing manufacturing costs recently at Omron Electronics ' ''Technology Connection 2003.''

Jansen's company has taken steps to cut costs by conducting extensive training, increasing quality of parts, and installing leading-edge technology. ''We are committed to using the best tools available,'' said Jansen, including the best possible HMI systems. He observed that operators are the best sources of uncovering ways to improve because they are the ones who spend the most time with the processes, adding that HMIs need to communicate the state of a process as fast and as effectively as possible to the people who are controlling it.

Click on the titles to read more about the Omron Technology Connection and '' Squeezing the Costs Out of Manufacturing ''.

HMI product review: Cimplicity, iPanel, touch keypad, viewports

A variety of new products were introduced recently. Here are summaries of a few:

The latest release of Cimplicity HMI from GE Fanuc Automation Americas Inc . delivers a diverse array of features designed to extend both the connectivity and localization capabilities of today's global manufacturer. HMI 6.1 offers dynamic screen localization and connectivity enhancements to simplify exchange of data between the plant floor and the enterprise

Control Technology Corp. has introduced iPanel, a series of web-enabled touchscreens, along with CT HMI software, which can be used to graphically display process data with or without the iPanel touchscreen. Together, iPanel and CT HMI can be used to graphically display data over corporate Ethernet, Internet or wireless networks, enabling users to manage plant floor devices from office, home, or field locations.

Touch-sensitive keyboard suitable for rugged and abrasive use are available from EAO Switch . Keyboard mounts underneath any non-conductive substrate such as glass, plastic, ceramic, or wood up to 10 mm thick. Applications include aggressive environments polluted by dust, grease, or ink particles; sterile environments cleaned using ultrasonic techniques; and explosive atmospheres.

A line of differentially pumped, extended range viewports for extreme high vacuum (EHV) applications has been launched by CeramTec North America's Ceramaseal Div . Standard viewport optics include zinc selenide and Cleartran. Both optics come with a 10.6-micron optimized anti-reflective coating with a 98% minimum transmission rate

Click for more on the viewports .

In, out, and about HMI

, a manufacturer of industrial portable computer solutions and rugged HMIs, has established a strategic alliance with ComunX to license its VoiceTouch voice activation software. ComunX is headquarted in Siddhartha Nagar, Vijayawada, India.

In expressing approval of the alliance, Chandra Kilaru, CEO of ComunX, said the move lets ComunX offer an intelligent voice operating system (IVOS) that incorporates the Dolch technology and greatly expands IVOS software capabilities, while simplifying the user interface and making it more reliable.

Two Technologies, Inc. , a manufacturer of customizable rugged hand held terminal and computer products, has opened a new office in Munich, Germany. The new location will permit the company to provide greater customer support for its European Partners.

ObjectAutomation has resumed operations. The company has assembled a team composed of the original OA software engineers plus new talent focused on re-establishing the company and its OAenterprise system in the industrial automation marketplace. In addition, OAenterprise is fully supported in Europe by OA Europe BV , headquartered in The Netherlands.

Emerson Process Management has won a $16 million contract to modernize the Ataka Terham Power Station in the Suez region of Egypt using its PlantWeb digital plant architecture. Emerson will serve as the main automation contractor for instrumentation and control modernization of Ataka's two 150-MW units and two 300-MW units that supply power to four million people. Responsibilities include design, installation, commissioning and start-up of the new control systems.

ISA 2003 promises something for everyone

ISA Expo 2003
promises to provide something for everyone who manages, engineers, or researches automation, control, and plant communications. The fall event takes place October 21-23 in Houston and brings together a wide array of technology; a slate of automation, control and IT experts; and a look at industrial automation of the future.

Are you going to ISA 2003? Let us know by clicking here to taking our poll .

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