Uticor's OI terminal offers free software, 'hot' downloads
Uticor's (Bettendorf, Ia.) Q Square PowerPanel operator interface terminal, based on the recently introduced G Square Series, includes free screen-development software that allows online downloads without data interruption. Slightly smaller than G Square, Q Square can replace QuickPanel from from GE Fanuc (Charlottesville, Va.
Uticor's (Bettendorf, Ia.) Q Square PowerPanel operator interface terminal, based on the recently introduced G Square Series, includes free screen-development software that allows online downloads without data interruption. Slightly smaller than G Square, Q Square can replace QuickPanel from from GE Fanuc (Charlottesville, Va.).
Both series from Uticor offer 6-in. monochrome or color display, and 8-, 10-, or 15-in TFT screens and free online software upgrades, company representatives say. The three-year warranty is an industry first, they add.
$3 million in development
"Customers have been telling us savings is significant and features are extensive," says Shalli Kumar, chairman, ceo, and sole director of Autotech/Viktron Group (AVG, Carol Stream, Ill.), which has owned Uticor since 1995. The three-year, $3 million development effort for G Square and Q Square lines involved 100,000 engineering hours, including hardware development in Bettendorf, Iowa, and software development in India. Mr. Kumar, fresh off a 50-customer road trip seeking input, says user-generated enhancements dealt with ease of use, online programming, graphics and hardware design. Among recommendations gathered and implemented was the suggestion for Q Square's form factor.
A Dec. 19 demonstration for Control Engineering editors showed how a screen can be intuitively designed on a PC in about a minute, then uploaded via COM port (or local network), as Shekhar Taneja, AVG's automation market development engineer demonstrated. Uploads can also occur via optional, flash-based plug-in module, on which OEMs might upgrade versions of programs for end-users. Download time is less than several competing units, says Mr. Kumar, who adds that the online screen modification, without data interruption, is unique to Uticor.
Easy resizing, no distortion
The 128-color PowerPanel programming software, with more than 2,000 symbols, can resize bitmaps without distortion or information loss, a feature not found on many operator terminals, according to Mr. Taneja. Vector-based software design allows storage of nearly 500 screens in 512k of memory. Mr. Kumar says, "Seven patents are pending on the design, primarily on the graphics." Programming can be done in up to nine languages, which is advantageous for OEMs that export to non-English-speaking users.
The unit monitors up to 999 alarms. A unique feature, Uticor says, is to see the count of each logged alarm. Users can look at a discrete event (bit) or an out-of-range value. Alarms can be displayed selectively, on a banner at the bottom of the screen; logged in history; and/or printed or exported to a marquee. Alarms also may be date or time stamped and viewed chronologically.
Tag names for programmable logic controller (PLC) addressing may be exported in a database to a CSV file or to a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. The software can import tags from an Excel spreadsheet. OEMs or large end-users can save time by designing an HMI program once, then changing tag definitions to match the required PLC. Most major PLCs are supported, including Allen-Bradley, Mitsubishi, Modicon, Omron and Siemens. Communications include serial drivers, DH+, Modbus+, Profibus, Ethernet/IP, and Modbus TCP/IP Ethernet.
Dimensions vary with screen size; the 10-in. G Square unit measures 10.1 x 13.1 x 3.04 in. Panels are rated NEMA 4X, Class 1, Div. 2, and an optional stainless steel bezel is available, for food and pharmaceutical industries. Power is 24-V dc standard; screen bulb may be turned off with a screen-saver feature. Customized units are available for OEMs. Uticor offers free screen-design conversion for qualifying users.
Mark T. Hoske, Control Engineering editor-in-chief