Portable HMIs are on the move at SPS
Data delivery, versatility seen as advantages as technology migrates from consumer devices.
Putting more devices knowledge in the hands of more end users is a major theme of the 2011 SPS show in Nuremburg, Germany this week. Either by connecting smarter devices to portable HMIs, or by delivering managed data to operators on the floor where and where needed, the move to more visibility in data continues.
B+R Automation is one of the companies exhibiting improved touchscreen technology at SPS, which has seen attendance rise 3% on the fair’s first day Tuesday. Company officials said the growth in touchscreens and portable HMIs won’t do everything, but they do offer some ‘intriguing possibilities.’
“Touch screens are not likely to completely replace devices with physical keys," said Raimund Ruf, manager of the HMI business unit at B+R. "Nevertheless, they will continue to advance into more and more areas due to their overall versatility. At the same time, we are seeing much more emphasis being placed on user ergonomics, both in how panel hardware is arranged as well as in the design of the user interface."
One consumer technology which is migrating to industrial HMIs is multi-touch screens that can detect two points of contact. Consumers use this to expand their screens when viewing pictures; attendees at SPS are seeing how it can expand their view of the plant.
“It promises a significant increase in usability by simplifying system operation while increasing the level of safety at the same time,” B+R officials said in a press release. “Operations where one hand is used to open up a menu while the other sets parameters setting are definitely a possibility. This would eliminate the need to jump back and forth between sub-menus while increasing overall clarity in the application. The operator is able to get where he needs to go faster because complex menu layers can be eliminated. Handling lists would also be simplified since the operator could simply scroll through the content instead of having to rely on narrow scrollbars.
“Operational safety can also be increased by implementing methods such as blocking certain actions until an additional button is pressed simultaneously with the other hand,” the company added. “Even if this doesn't completely replace dead-man's controls just yet, multi-touch operation used in this way can still prevent critical operating steps from being carried out unintentionally.
Among other manufacturers exhibiting at SPS, there were a range of new prdouct offerings: Molex added diagnostic and communications tools to its Brad automation products. “Molex evaluates its products and services continuously, both internally and through conversations with our customers in the field,” said Michael Frayne, global product manager, Molex. “These latest enhancements will bring users more flexibility and cost savings and illustrate to our customers our continued commitment to their success.”
The recent upgrades to the Brad automation line of products include:
- Royalty-free PROFIBUS Communication Device Type Manager (CommDTM) delivered with the SST PB3 backplane modules for Rockwell Automation ControlLogix controllers. The software is now free-of-charge and available for download from the Molex website.
- The SST Remote DeviceNet Scanner now includes support for Windows 7 (64 bit) and Windows CE. It has also undergone DeviceNet ODVA conformance.
- The eNetMeter Portable Test Unit bundles the eNetMeter hardware and NetAlytix software along with a 24V DC power supply and quick connections to both DeviceNet and EtherNet/IP in a hardened industrial case.
Kontron has expanded its COM Express compact form factor portfolio to now include the dual-core Intel Atom processor D525 @1.80GHz on the redesigned Kontron microETXexpress-PV. This new offering delivers a greater overall performance in a tight power envelope with 4 GByte DDR3 of system memory and a higher CPU frequency.
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