Expanding the Use of Smart Operator Panels
Thursday, 01 December 2011
Page 2 of 2
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
• Allows users to manage multiple HMI
applications in one project with a single
• Allows users to switch multi-language
UI dynamically, with Unicode and multilingual
screen text supported.
• Provides password protection of
designs, macros, and upload/download
• Supports vertical or horizontal screen
• Enables one design to fit all HMI models.
• Provides index registers for modifying
device addresses at runtime.
• Collects data from many devices with
• 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
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
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
This article was written by Chuck Harrell,
Director of Marketing at Advantech in
Cincinnati, OH. For more information, visit