The first recording devices for industrial process data were circular chart recorders powered by windup clocks. They used round pieces of paper over which an ink pen was dragged by changes in input voltage. Companies ended up with stacks of charts that were effectively unusable without a lot of effort.
Suppliers developed strip-chart recorders to make data collection easier, but they were still analog and had no numerical storage. The space program brought us digital, high-speed data acquisition systems for both analog and digital data.
In 2012, Yokogawa released the GX and GP Series of digital data acquisition systems. "These are the first of a new SmartDAC+ product family," says Steve Byrom, data acquisition product manager. "They incorporate a smart user interface, smart architecture and smart functionality design principles. The fully modular I/O architecture captures all measurement and output functions and field wiring terminations within a compact field-replaceable and -upgradeable module. This means that customers can buy the functionality they need today and add more capacity when needed by purchasing and field-installing new modules."
GX10 with 5.7 in. touchscreen and GX20 with a 12.1 in. version are NEMA 4-rated when panel-mounted. GP10 and GP20 are portable versions designed for use in the lab or on the test bench.
SmartDAC+ products use unique and proprietary resistive touchscreen technology that allows swipe and finger pinch in/out control. The displays can be configured for six display modes with up to 20 multi-channel views. "The user interface was designed by human factors engineers who incorporated the latest thinking into the data presentation following color universal design principles," Byrom says. "Color selection for the highly important overview display was chosen to enhance normal data recognition and to capture the user's attention for important data such as alarm conditions." All operations begin with a blue Menu button, which calls up touch menus for all display and operating functions. Glowing blue during normal operation, it blinks red when there is an alarm condition.
Operators can annotate the data and leave messages via pre-stored messages or custom messages, or they can enter a freehand notation using a pen-stylus tool. Mouse capability is built in.
"The completely new design modular I/O architecture lets the user add input channels and alarm relays in any combination at any time, up to the product maximum," Byrom states. "Each module is accessible from the rear of the device in panel slots. A 10-channel universal input module supports a full range of thermocouple, RTD and DCV sensor measurements, as well as mA inputs with external shunt resistors. A 16-channel digital input and six-channel relay output module are available. GX units support up to 10 modules for a capacity of 100 input channels. Configuration is done through the touch setting menus on the display."
The products are network-capable and can send data and PDF-formatted reports to network devices and network-enabled printers for automatic generation of printed reports. Because the network interface is standard Ethernet, the devices support web server, FTP file transfer, email messaging and Modbus TCP client/server. The web server functions allow the user to access real-time displays, including trend history, with their web browser. Users can also change settings in a browser-based environment with no special software.
"For more functionality, we offer a free download, GA10 file viewing and configuration software, similar to DAQStandard software for the DXA product lines," Byrom says. "GA10 is a standalone product designed from the ground up to support the GX/GP products."