2011

Expanding the Use of Smart Operator Panels

Intelligence Made Easy

A smart operator panel needs programming software, and the utility of the hardware is well defined by the software. The programming software needs to be very simple to learn and to use. It doesn’t matter how powerful a software package is, if it takes far too long to learn it. A runtime HMI development software package should include the following features:

• Allows users to manage multiple HMI applications in one project with a single database.
• Allows users to switch multi-language UI dynamically, with Unicode and multilingual screen text supported.
• Provides password protection of designs, macros, and upload/download operations.
• Supports vertical or horizontal screen displays.
• Enables one design to fit all HMI models.
• Provides index registers for modifying device addresses at runtime.
• Collects data from many devices with various methods.
• Supports various data acquisition and trend presentation protocols.
• Operation log helps the review and investigation of important events.
• Allows downloading the runtime data using serial port, Ethernet port, USB client port at HMI, and Micro-SD.
• Allows use of a USB memory stick for trouble-free updating of the application.
• Supports all the major industrial communication protocols and PLC/PAC devices.

Any good development software package should have at least these features. And since automation systems are increasingly less “islanded,” a good development software package needs a robust utility to move data easily and quickly, even to remote sites outside the factory floor.

The programming software package and the graphical operator panel interface are taking over from the wired pushbutton panels of the past. The increase in capability coupled with the decrease in cost predicted by Moore’s Law means that smart operator panels will become smarter, more durable, more powerful, and simpler to use. New operating systems, new Web-based design, and new interface tools are changing the way we design the operation of systems.

This article was written by Chuck Harrell, Director of Marketing at Advantech in Cincinnati, OH. For more information, visit http://info.hotims.com/34461-121.