Software extends beyond HMI

Wonderware Corp. (Irvine, Calif.) is among software vendors hoping to "change the game," by moving beyond traditional software definitions of human-machine interface, or even the software suite. Software vendors—solution providers—are web-enabling or moving software platforms to the web.

09/01/2000


Wonderware Corp. (Irvine, Calif.) is among software vendors hoping to "change the game," by moving beyond traditional software definitions of human-machine interface, or even the software suite.

Software vendors—solution providers—are web-enabling or moving software platforms to the web. A few add to that use of XML, extensible markup language and the like, as well as a portal or network approach. Some add to that multiple, scalable application offerings to mix and match to the user and application, according to needs. And, perhaps most of all, each seeks differentiation in this new space.

"We're not just an HMI company anymore, but a manufacturing information systems and supervisory control resource,'' says Kevin Tock, senior vp FactorySuite, among software line managers implementing the new strategy. Wonderware is demonstrating its new solution set to industry shows, including ISA in New Orleans, Aug. 21-25, and customized forums, to evangelize its message. Elements under the initial product offerings in the new "Advanced Client Technology" include the following.

  • In a July exclusive, "Wonderware's SuiteVoyager integrates factory automation," p. 104, introduced part of that strategy with the Internet/intranet/extranet portal to aggregate information from multiple sources. Initial language support will be for English, French, German, and Japanese, with support for Chinese and wireless PDAs next. The following announcements expand on the message.

  • Terminal Services for InTouchV7.1, beta tested in June, use Windows 2000 Server or Windows NT, so clients run human-machine interface software as if it resides locally, even though applications run on the server. (Later versions will support InTrack and InBatch applications.)

The set-up, depending on application needs, can allow use of a "thin," or small, client with less computing power, at a lower cost (see table), since only some protocol code resides inside. Having applications in one location minimizes deployment, security, and maintenance challenges, making it easier to manage software.

The platform supports Citrix ICA (Independent Computing Architecture) and Microsoft RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol), local printing, and area networking. Applications running on thin-clients aren't diminished in any way, explains Mr. Tock: "users still get the full InTouch experience" with the human-machine interface software. Clients are limited to 256 colors without screen savers or large moving bitmaps, Mr. Tock says.

Thin-clients—approximately 25 per server with InTouch—can include Linux, WinCE, NTE, and workstation clients can include Win 3.11, 95, 98, NT, 2000, and wireless, depending on application needs. Clients can use InSQL client tools.

  • ActiveFactory, Version 3.1.1, IndustrialSQL Server real-time relational database application, incorporates applications such as trend and query functions, integrates Microsoft Office applications, like Word and Excel, and links to other applications. The database's universal data access design has ability to use dissimilar data. SCADAlarm 5.0 software is a Microsoft Windows telecommunication link to industrial automation software to provide real-time intelligent alarm notification, data acquisition, and remote control from various telecommunication devices, adding more than 25 features from the previous version.

  • New version release of QI Analyst 4.1, statistical process control software, uses real-time, factory-floor data to monitor process quality, and integrates with enterprise software. The QI Analyst line was acquired from SPSS (Chicago, Ill).

For more, visit www.controleng.com/freeinfo .

Cost Estimates Vary, Depending on Needs

Client-Server Architecture with PCs Mixed Client-Server and Multi-User Architecture with PCs Multi-User Architecture with old PCs functioning as thin-clients Multi-User Architecture Thin-clients
Source: Control Engineering with data from Wonderware Corp.
Client Hardware$50,000 (new, 350-450 MHz PII)$0 (assume continued use of existing legacy PC HW)$20,000 (new, thin-client platforms @ av. prices)
Client OS LicensesApprox. $8,000Approx. $8,000Included with server license package
Server Hardware$8,000$15,000 (assume added memory storage)
NT Server and Terminal Server Licenses$2,000 (includes NT client access licenses)$4,000 (includes all required client licenses)
Total cost of Acquisition$68,000$75,000$19,000$39,000





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