Seeing is Believing!

No special effects here-operator interface terminals (OITs) provide the necessary look into the process. Seeing process variables juxtaposed with the spot in the process where they are occurring makes keeping track of the operation more hands-on and less hands-off. This OIT Product Focus article FEATURES AN EXCLUSIVE EXPANDED ONLINE PRODUCT SECTION.

By Dick Johnson December 1, 2002
Trends in Operator Terminals
  • Larger displays

  • Real-time capability

  • Hazardous location certification

Exclusive, expanded online product section

No special effects here-operator interface terminals (OITs) provide the necessary look into the process. Seeing process variables juxtaposed with the spot in the process where they are occurring makes keeping track of the operation more hands-on and less hands-off. And it is this ability to keep the operator in contact with what is happening on the plant floor, that makes OITs (often called human-machine interfaces) a necessity rather than convenient ”add-on” to a control system. (See cover story on human-machine interfaces.)

As field applications become more critical-due to process and discrete manufacturing equipment become more complex-and as manufacturing agility, quality, and optimization increase in importance, this communication link between people and machinery becomes more crucial. While the role of the OIT has expanded in continuous process and discrete manufacturing, continuous process industries make far greater use of this technology.

Eye on the process

According to 282 respondents to the OIT survey sent Control Engineering readers by Reed Research Group, the largest industry segment (48%) using terminals on the plant floor engaged in both continuous and batch manufacturing operations. The next largest application for these devices was 19% of total respondents whose primary application was continuous processing only, followed by 6% for batch processing only. Discrete manufacturing applications provide 15% of the responses. A relatively large segment of those responding (12%) put their primary application in the ”other” category.

Despite their application, OIT users face the same pressures from their customers and the regulatory community. According to Dan Benson, co-founder of Ann Arbor Technologies (Ann Arbor, MI). ”We see a push toward increased data sensitive needs in both process and discrete applications. Our customers want real-time data for regulation, efficiency, and quality. These demands are consistent in both control arenas.

”The need for more data will push the OIT market into larger displays to show this information. This demand also changes the infrastructure from the older decentralized model to a centralized one using server-based networks. Server-based architecture will also change the OIT from a closed proprietary product to an open networked thin-client or browser,” Mr. Benson adds.

With control requirements constantly increasing, respondents to the survey made it clear that OITs need to be usable in more locations. The desirability of various certifications has risen measurably in two areas, Class I, Div. 1 and Class II, Div. 2. Class I, Div. 1 locations have hazardous gases or vapors present. Class II, Div. 2 locations have surface accumulated dust but no air-suspended dust. Both are common industrial hazards.

Respondents that desired Class I, Div. 1 certification rose from 17% to 26%. Those desiring Class II, Div. 2 certification increased from 17% to 24%. Desirability of CE Mark rose dramatically form 3% to 43%, while desirability of cUL certification increased 1% . The ‘wish list’ for both UL and CSA (Canadian Standards Association) certification declined with CSA decreasing the most from 34% to 25%.

More hazardous, the better

OIT designers have seen the need for hazardous location certification coming for a long time. According to Rod Rice, manager, operator interface engineering at GE Fanuc Automation (Charlottesville, NC), ”Class I, Div. 2 hazardous location requirements have become the standard for GE Fanuc OIT products. We have seen a trend toward this requirement and have integrated it into our new product introduction process.” Accordingly, all new operator interface products meet UL508 ordinary and UL1604 hazardous locations requirements.

”Similarly, we are designing operator interfaces to address a wide array of applications and meet many agency requirements in a single device. For example, NEMA 4, 4x and 12, IP65, and outdoor ratings for ultra-violet exposure are achieved in the same UL-compliant product,” Mr. Rice adds.

Presenting timely, correct information to the watchful eye of the operator is an absolute necessity when dealing with real-world scenarios that involve potentially dangerous consequences in case of a process gone wrong. No special effects technicians need apply.

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Exclusive, expanded online product section

PDA access to key information Miniature keyboard, cursor controller
Exclusive: OIT has multi-vendor connectivity Terminal designed for plant floor
OI product line extended Ethernet-enabled OIT
Touch panels feature DH+, Ethernet connectivity Circularly polarized touch panels
PC has out-of-the-box functionality Panel-mount touch-monitor installs quickly
Flat-panel computer for process applications Large display touchscreen
Fully flexible industrial computer systems PLC with touch-panel human-machine interface
Transparent access to information

PDA access to key information

Charlottesville, VA – Cimplicity PalmView is a handheld personal digital assistant bundled with Cimplicity collaborative production management software and a wireless Ethernet card. Using the thin-client, wireless Ethernet technology, PalmView allows operators and managers to view real-time graphical automation and production data from anywhere in a plant without additional screen configuration. The bi-directional data capabilities of PalmView permit users to interact with their production systems with a Compaq iPAQ Pocket PC. GE Fanuc Information Center

Exclusive: OIT has multi-vendor connectivity

Milwaukee, WI – PanelView Plus, part of the unified suite of platforms available with the Rockwell Automation ViewAnyWare strategy, is said to be a flexible, affordable terminal that enables OEMs and end-users to select, change, or upgrade interface components to meet changing application requirements. PanelView Plus features RSView Machine Edition software that increases terminal functionality by including multi-vendor communications, trending, animation, data logging, and expressions.

Hardware features include four screen sizes ranging from 7 to 15 inches and three input methods: touch, keypad, or a combination touch-keypad display. It also includes built-in RS-232, Ethernet, Ethernet/IP, and two USB ports for printing, mouse, and future peripherals. The terminal’s modular design allows users to easily upgrade the display module, add communication modules and increase memory in the field, and cuts maintenance costs. PanelView Plus will be available in early 2003. Rockwell Automation Response Center

OI product line extended

Pittsburgh, PA – Eaton Corp. has released the latest addition to its PanelMate ePro family. Cutler-Hammer PanelMate ePro XE is said to unite the flexibility of a PC-based SCADA system and the reliability of a dedicated OI product. The XE Series builds on the existing ePro OI foundation by adding recipe/machine-setup functionality, data trending, document viewing/browsing, and data historian capabilities. The ePro XE is designed for harsh environments and incorporates solid-state memory technology resistant to vibration and temperature extremes. It also features built-in 10/100 Mbps Base-T Ethernet.

Touch panels feature DH+, Ethernet connectivity

Cumming, GA – EZTouch PLC touch panels feature a built-in Data Highway Plus (DH+) interface, or Ethernet option cards for use with certain EZTouch panels. The new DH+ versions are available in color or monochrome 6-in. models, and 8- and 10-in. color models in regular or slim bezel sizes. Also available is an optional high-speed Ethernet communication card that enables an EZTouch panel to connect to an AutomationDirect PLC Ethernet network. Up to eight EZTouch panels can be connected to one or multiple PLCs containing an ECOM module using off-the-shelf Ethernet hubs.

PC has out-of-the-box functionality

North Andover, MA – Telemecanique Magelis iPC features a modular LCD screen, power supply, floppy disk/CD-ROM drive, and expansion slots. These modular components also reduce maintenance costs and simplify inventory requirements. Displays are available in 12- or 15-in. touchscreens, with or without keyboards.

A range of CPUs from Intel Celeron 566 MHz to Pentium III 850 MHz are tiered according to power and extension capacity (up to 512 MB memory). The processors integrate a Fast Ethernet port (100 Mbps) as standard. Two serial ports and two USB ports, plus up to six expansion slotsare also available. The iPC conforms to CE, UL and cUL specifications. Schneider Electric

Flat-panel computer for process applications

Saline, MI – Newly released 3612T flat-panel computer is a compact, high-performance unit intended for factory automation and process applications. The 3612T comes standard with a 12-in. SVGA flat-panel LCD, analog resistive touchscreen, an Intel Celeron 850 MHz CPU, 128 MB RAM, 20 GB hard drive, and a standard CD-ROM and floppy drive.

Optionally, the 3612T is available with a choice of Intel Pentium III 1.0 and 1.26 GHz processors. Packaging is 11 x 3 in. by 7.30-in. deep. The 3612T will carry the European CE mark and includes UL and cUL agency approvals. It will also be approved for Class I & II, Div. 2 hazardous locations.

Xycom Automation

Fully flexible industrial computer systems

Ann Arbor, MI – PaneLink 12 industrial computer systems share a powerful set of features including a 12.1-in. SVGA TFT display with 800 x 600-pixel resolution, analog resistive touchscreen, fanless X86 processor, Ethernet connectivity, and multiple communication ports.

Flexibility comes from multiple OS and storage options as well as the versatility of the PC-104 and PC-MCIA ports. Other features include a 300 MHz Geode processor, 10/100 Ethernet port, one RS-232/422/485 serial port, one parallel port, two USB ports, and a NEMA 4 front panel. System packaging measures 12.4 x 9.57 x 2.56in. Ann Arbor Technologies

Transparent access to information

Schaumburg, IL – NS advanced operator interface with its new HMI architecture can access information from PLCs up to three networks away from a single screen. Information can be accessed from an Ethernet network, Omron’s proprietary ControllerLink network, and up to two serial ports, all simultaneously.

In addition, the HMI features a 4-channel video input module to display camera images from vision inspection sensors. Connectivity benefits of NS interface give users network-wide access to data and play into the users’ data strategy. Omron Electronics LLC

Miniature keyboard, cursor controller

Stratford, CT – KIA 6000/6600-BX is a miniature NEMA 4 (IP66) sealed keyboard. The device measures 8.70 x 6.15 in., features full 101/104 key functionality with full size keys and up to 10 levels of intensity of either red or green LED backlighting. It is available with an AP-2000BX standalone cursor controller, designated ArrowMouse that offers drift-free operation and is specially designed to meet OEMs’ small footprint requirements. KIA 6000/6600-BX features six keys to replicate all mouse functions.

Terminal designed for plant floor

Temecula, CA – OptoTerminal-G70 is an Ethernet-enabled, graphics-based operator interface for use with the company’s Snap Ethernet I/O, Snap Ultimate I/O, and Snap-It systems. The terminal is an industrial operator interface used to send commands and receive real-time data from plant-floor equipment and other devices connected to Opto 22 hardware. Features include Ethernet connectivity, a 320 x 240-pixel color touchscreen, and object-based screen builder software. It meets NEMA-4 specifications when mounted properly; is low-cost, compact, and durable; and is said to be ideal for plant floor and remote locations. Opto 22

Ethernet-enabled OIT

Salt Lake City, UT – QTERM-G75 is an Ethernet-enabled graphics terminal that features industrial-grade hardware including a 640 x 480 pixel color TFT graphics LCD, 10Base-T Ethernet with TCP/IP support, and a touchscreen with optional PS/2 keyboard connection.

Other features include an EIA-232, -422 or -485 serial interface, 2 MB Flash/16 MB RAM in a NEMA4, and a CE-certified aluminum housing. QTERM-G75 is built on the terminal programming language, Qlarity, an object-based language designed for graphic terminals.

Circularly polarized touch panels

Sunnyvale, CA – The FID-554 line of touch panels is circularly polarized, which is said to greatly enhance display readability in direct sunlight conditions. The panels eliminate over 60% of reflected ambient light while maintaining 79% luminance transmissivity.

The four-wire resistive touch panels are designed for use with transmissive LCDs in a variety of portable and stationary outdoor applications, including industrial instruments and test instrumentation. The panels are 1.4-mm thick, have a 3H minimum surface hardness rating, and are suitable for pen and finger input. They are compatible with standard controller and device drivers. Fujitsu Components America Inc.

Panel-mount touch-monitor installs quickly

Fremont, CA – Entuitive 1566L is a 15-in. LCD industrial panel-mount touch-monitor. Its front-mounting design includes six detachable clamps to simplify the NEMA-4/4X/12 installation for harsh environments. The mounting kit also includes brackets, cable, and a remote on-screen display control module. The 1566L touch-monitor uses its developer’s AccuTouch 5-wire resistive touchscreen technology. It is intended for process control, manufacturing monitoring systems, production automation, and manufacturing equipment applications. The monitor is certified to UL/cUL, TÜV Bauart (including IP65), FCC-B, CE-B, C-Tick, and VCCI standards. Elo TouchSystems Inc.

Large display touchscreen

Alpharetta,GA – Multi-Panel Simatic MP 370 15-in. touchscreen features what is reportedly the largest display in its class and superior brightness, delivering excellent operator readability and visualization. MP 370 has a resolution of 1,024 x 768 pixels and up to 256 colors.

Part of its developer’s Microsoft Windows CE-based multifunctional platform family, the unit’s integrated interfaces makes it possible to connect it to Simatic S7, S5, and 505 controllers, as well as Profibus DP, and a wide range of PLCs from other manufacturers. Siemens Energy & Automation Inc.

PLC with touch-panel human-machine interface

Lod, Israel – Vision280 is a high-performance PLC and a touch-panel human-machine interface (HMI) integrated into one seamless device. The graphic HMI screen displays ”touchable” images and texts according to real-time conditions. Touch properties can be assigned to all text and graphic on-screen elements. The PLC can handle up to 158 I/O points and offers functions ranging from advanced communication handling to an internal 120K database. Communication options include SMS, Modbus, and CANbus.

Unitronics Industrial Automation Systems