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Digital transformation enables operators to provide higher value

May 5, 2021
Machine-learning models and artificial intelligence will spur companies to train existing staff to be proficient in managing the new systems

What are three key things that a machine builder, system integrator or manufacturer should know about your company?

Adam Anderson, product trainer, Maple Systems: Maple Systems manufactures high-quality graphical HMIs, PLCs and industrial panel PCs. Our sales engineers and technical-support team bring decades of experience to bear in helping OEMs, machine builders and systems integrators to design comprehensive and cost-effective controls solutions. We offer free software and free U.S.-based tech support and take great pride in being an employee-owned company.

What new technologies are driving your product development and why?

Adam Anderson, product trainer, Maple Systems: Now more than ever before, operator interfaces need to be adaptable and easy to access remotely, in addition to being powerful enough to get the job done. Maple Systems recently extended support for secure remote access, based on our EasyAccess 2.0 VPN platform, to our Basic HMI Series. Now all our HMIs support end-to-end encrypted connections from remote operators, plus pass-through mode for remote debugging of PLCs and controllers.

Our Smart X HMIs feature WebView, a new, streamlined web interface for controlling your application from any browser without installing any additional software. The Smart X HMIs also ship with an upgraded quad-core processor for increased performance and support for real-time, CoDeSys-based soft-PLC functionality. The fact that you can now run IEC 61131-3 controls logic in a real-time operating system on the same device as your existing HMI program means you can adapt and scale out your applications more quickly. Need to add more I/O? Connect to a Maple Systems Remote I/O module and deploy new CoDeSys logic without interrupting the running HMI application.

How does the Industrial Internet of Things figure in your business strategy?

Adam Anderson, product trainer, Maple Systems: Our mission is to help customers adopt the best hardware and software solutions for the automation challenges they face. Our in-house experts offer tailored guidance on modernizing and scaling operations, application security, streamlining data collection and connecting plants and equipment.

Our products make it easy for you to tie into or set up new OPC UA networks, connect to MQTT brokers and publish data to the cloud. Our IIoT-enabled Smart HMIs can function as MQTT clients or brokers, or as OPC UA clients or servers. Maple Systems industrial PCs are the perfect counterpart to create a complete SCADA system, running AVEVA Web Studio or Inductive Automation's Ignition Gateway. You can even link your HMI with a SQL database server running on one of our panel PCs to back up and analyze process data.

How will machine automation and controls alter the way companies staff their operations in the future?

Adam Anderson, product trainer, Maple Systems: As opposed to outright replacing staff with machine-learning models and automated systems, companies will instead choose to train existing staff to be proficient in managing the new systems being deployed. The companies that choose to retain and upskill their workforce will provide employees with opportunities for advancement, pay increases, more diverse job responsibilities and ultimately higher on-the-job satisfaction.

In a sense, every company, from the banking sector to farming, is now a technology company. Without an adept and technically literate workforce, no company can survive, much less compete. Meanwhile, remote access will continue to prove vital. Machine operators and administrators must be able to securely access equipment and monitor operations. Companies that permit and encourage remote work and remote access to applications will save both money and time.

About the author: Mike Bacidore
About the Author

Mike Bacidore | Editor in Chief

Mike Bacidore is chief editor of Control Design and has been an integral part of the Endeavor Business Media editorial team since 2007. Previously, he was editorial director at Hughes Communications and a portfolio manager of the human resources and labor law areas at Wolters Kluwer. Bacidore holds a BA from the University of Illinois and an MBA from Lake Forest Graduate School of Management. He is an award-winning columnist, earning multiple regional and national awards from the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He may be reached at [email protected] 

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