In 1969, Tetsuro Mori, a senior engineer at Yaskawa, is said to have coined the term “mechatronics.” It meant a new approach in engineering design and production based on integration of two classical engineering disciplines, namely mechanical and electrical engineering, along with computer science and software engineering.
For the machine builder, mechatronics can represent a way to improve the design process in machines by integrating the best available development practices and technologies to aid machine design, prototyping and deployment.
Modern HMIs play a big role in creating the best machine. According to a research report from Frost & Sullivan (www.frost.com), “during prototyping, every designer needs to understand that the human-machine interface (HMI) determines the perceptions that operators will have about the machine. It is extremely important to make the operator trust the machine. This is possible by empowering the HMI with features such as ease-of-use, ease-of-programmability, easy understanding and clear display of information.”
The study goes on to say “Web-based HMIs are increasingly popular in manufacturing units and plants since they offer the possibility of extending their usage to various business aspects such as logistics and maintenance in a cost-effective manner. Displays should also focus on operator’s attention on relevant issues they are monitoring rather than hindering because they could be distracted by three-dimensional animation that provides no real value.”
Stainless steel, PC-based displays with touchscreens and/or keyboards, operator panels and text displays, or thin clients for remote visualization via Ethernet, can be used in clean and hygienic applications. Users choose from IP65 protection, mounting on a swing arm system or directly on the machine, user guidance with LEDs and input control with transponder systems or chip cards.
B&R Industrial Automation
Plant Floor Marquee is a multi-color LED display that communicates critical machine status and product data across the factory. Readable to 600 ft, it has a graphical three-color display, available in four sizes that can convey production targets, machine faults and other custom messages.
Red Lion Controls
Exter T150-bl-sr HMI tailored for outdoor use offers the same functionality and configuration software as the standard Exter HMIs but can be viewed in the direct glare of sunlight. It also has a dimmable backlight for use at night.
NP-Series HMIs connect to multiple-vendor PLCs and combine a touchscreen with programmable function keys. They have both RS232 and switchable RS422A/485 ports. USB thumb drives enable fast application uploads/downloads, eliminating need for a laptop to load recipes and parameters.
Omron Industrial Automation
Proficy HMI/SCADA iFIX 5.0 software offers next-generation visualization and real-time information management. It comes with Look ‘N’ Feel for Workspace and Database Manager, based on Microsoft Fluent User interface (UI) technology that follows the Ribbon Bar concept for user access to tools during application development, and to configure Quick Access Toolbars for frequently used tools.
GE Fanuc Intelligent Platforms
Simatic MP 377 Multi Panels offer 64K of colors in 12-inch TFT displays and 15-inch and 19-inch touchscreen models. Suited for the WinAC MP 2007 operating platform, the unit has 2 MB of user memory as well as 12 MB of additional memory.
Siemens Energy & Automation
PAC Display is a Windows-based HMI development application to create graphical interfaces that mimic a process. Support for alarm management, recipe handling, operator logging, real-time and historical trending, multimedia and unlimited tags are included.
Tablets for mobile HMI users where operators or maintenance personnel need mobility, real-time graphics, system monitoring, interaction and troubleshooting come pre-installed with Windows XP, InTouch 10.0 software and 3000 Tag Runtime license. Optional versions are offered depending on the regional integrated wireless LAN IEEE802.11a/b/g requirements for Americas or EU.
IndraControl VEP HMI with embedded Windows CE provides PC power and functionality with flash card technology for applications such as machine startup, inputting values, jogging axes, recipe management and supervisory level HMI functions. It has a 600 MHz processor with 512 MB RAM and 1 GB of memory to handle multiple software applications.
EZ Series touchpanels have RMC option card that plugs into the extension connector of the HMI. It has an Ethernet port that allows a PC anywhere in the world to view any screen in the panel in real-time. This card also can be configured to send emails from the panel. It stores up to 2 GB of data in an SD card on-board.
FactoryTalk ViewPoint software thin-client application uses Microsoft’s Silverlight technology to extend visualization and real-time decision capabilities beyond FactoryTalk View clients to browser-based remote users. The software supports fully scalable and animated Web displays of existing FactoryTalk View Site Edition (SE) visualization software and A-B PanelView Plus applications from office, home or on the road via an Internet browser.
VisuNet RM eliminates copper and fiberoptic keyboard, video and mouse interface technology, while leveraging open-network-based Visual over Ethernet (VOE) technology founded on Microsoft standards. VOE facilitates operation of up to 32 remote monitoring stations per server, and supports redundant servers, pathways and hot switchover.
GP-Pro EX v. 2.2 HMI application development software has multimedia capability, remote PC access, high-speed device linking and built-in control-logic editor. The software speeds application development for OEMs and end-users who need to standardize on one HMI package that supports Windows-based systems and dedicated operator interfaces.
HMI operator interface is a customizable, true analog touchscreen with programmable function buttons. Macro programming handles applications, storing and manipulating trends, data and communications from one PLC to another. The multi-language interface is available in four-, six-, eight- and 10-inch models with blue-mode, grayscale or color screen versions.
Interact v. 3.0 supervisory HMI software has historical trending tools that aggregate data from multiple machines or work cells, as well as third-party PLCs and HMI panels. When supervising machines running Interact Xpress, InteractX imports screens and data directly from Xpress applications.
Parker Electromechanical Automation
FPM-5151G 15-inch LCD flat-panel monitor for industrial applications has direct-VGA and DVI-D signal transmission, which allows any VGA control card to be used. An on-screen display feature allows the user to adjust the images on the screen. A front access USB connector provides access to the controller through an USB extension cable.
Advantech, Industrial Automation Group
HG2G 5.7-inch operator interfaces measure 35 mm. deep, have a monochrome or 256-color touchscreen display and come with 2 MB memory. An optional built-in Ethernet port allows remote communication with PLCs. The OI is RS232/RS485/RS422 compatible and supports all major PLC brands.
Model SV-2400 24-inch, NEMA 4/IP56, all-steel, enclosed LCD touchscreen monitor is capable of resolution up to native mode WUXGA (1920x1200) with both analog and digital input sources. It has a 16:10 aspect ratio, low power consumption, 250 nits of brightness, 160-degree viewing angles and a contrast ratio of 1000:1. The monitors are available with anti-reflective, tempered glass protective overlay or capacitive touchscreen.
CU8810 DVI/USB splitter connects multiple industrial displays, such as four displays showing the same image or two separate images connected to the same PC. The splitter transfers images via DVI and its integrated USB ports transfer command signals from touchscreens, function keys, keyboards and other USB devices.
PowerView 8000 Series operator interface with Ethernet and USB connectivity in 5.6-inch QVGA, 8-inch VGA, 10.4-inch VGA, and 12.1-inch SVGA sizes have 65K color TFT LCD display with analog resistive touchscreen. ViewBuilder 8000 software includes advanced object libraries, historical and real-time trending, alarm and recipe management, and online and offline simulation.
C-more micro-graphic panel line includes a six-inch touchscreen with a 320x240 pixel graphic display that supports bitmap files. Used horizontally, the panel supports 40 lines x 80 characters of static text; 53 lines x 60 characters are supported in the vertical orientation. Two keypad bezels are available for either horizontal or vertical mounting.
Wago-I/O Pro CAA programming and visualization software for development of PLC applications for this company’s Programmable Fieldbus Controllers is IEC 61131-3-compliant and includes an integrated HMI editor to dveleop the control application and the HMI screens within the same environment using one common tag database.
Gold Series 10-, 15-, and 17-inch fanless panel PCs have Intel processors and are pre-loaded with Windows XP Pro. The panels are designed to be quiet, draw less power, produce less heat and prevent particulate matter from being drawn into the unit, and operate in a tightly sealed environment with no air flow. Solid-state hard drives are available.
QTERM-G58 wireless, battery-powered, mobile industrial HMI is a handheld computer using a 200 MHz processor and a transflective color TFT display. Interfaces include EIA-232, -422, -485 and 10/100 Base-wired Ethernet (optional). Memory is up to 32 MB SDRAM, up to 8 MB NOR flash or up to 8 GB NAND flash. NEMA-12/14 are optional. The HMI includes 24-40-key steel dome membrane keyboard with customizable keypad legend and logo.
KepServerEX software has Advanced Tags option to perform math, logic and advanced functions such as counter, timer, minimum, maximum, average and accumulation. It has an OPC-UA Server plug-in from select private label OEMs, two client interface options and two driver plug-ins.
EnduraTouch 1500FX and 1700FX front access NEMA 4X PCs for harsh environments have a stainless steel enclosure, a 15-inch and 17-inch LCD and sealed I/O ports. Self-contained cooling prevents leaks and keeps out dust, liquids, humidity, extreme temperatures and caustic washdowns. It meets FSIS requirements. HMI supports XP/Embedded XP/CE and Linux. Options include touchscreen, wireless networking and PCI expansion.
Etop06 5.6-inch, ¼ VGA TFT display with LED backlight has built-in 10/100 Ethernet, pixel and vector graphic capabilities, support of multiple layers and object transparency. UniOP Designer software includes visibility of all objects by the PLC, full TTF support for display items, chronological or prioritized listing of alarms, recipe storage and full USB support.
MultiMonitor module for thinclient management software spans a single session across screens, displays a different session on each screen or presents a combination of the two. The configuration wizards in ThinManager 3.1 software let a user identify the logical screen configuration, the session(s) running on each screen, the screen resolutions and how spanned sessions are displayed.
Automation Control Products
GOT1000 terminals offer alarm and recipe handling, Windows and TrueType fonts, messaging and multi-language support. They have a STN LCD display, a programmable backlight and can be configured to display machine status or errors. All models have a single embedded high-speed serial port along with an additional RS-232 or RS-422 serial port.
Mitsubishi Electric Automation
LabView touchpanel module lets users develop custom HMI applications for Windows CE touchpanel devices. Users can communicate with and display information from Compact FieldPoint, CompactRIO and Compact Vision System programmable automation controllers. There are built-in tools for user interface development, data analysis and network communication.
GT32T TFT 4096 color 5.5-inch touchscreen has an SD card slot, an Ethernet port and a USB port for communication and updating/saving screen data. The unit is 1.52 inches deep.
Panasonic Electric Works of America
Magelis XBTRT semi-graphic touchscreen comes with one or 10 lines of text. There are 16 graphical touchscreen sizes from 3.8–15 inches with multiple display types, a range of three keypad terminals in 5.7- and 10.4-inch screen sizes and two terminals with XP operating system embedded.
Symbol Factory .NET is a .NET component for building HMI applications in Visual Studio .NET 2003 and 2005 using Visual Basic or C++ languages. Users drop components on the Windows Forum in Video Studio, set properties in a point-and-click user interface and pass machine and process data to the objects to control the configured animations. Choose from 4,000 professionally created objects in 60 categories.
Windows Mobile ruggedized PDA and CE.Net-powered Instant-Panel color touch panels come in 5.6-, 8-, 10.4- and 12.1-inch screen sizes. It has three serial, one Ethernet and three USB 2.0 ports. Built-in CompactFlash card slot and 44-pin IDE interface provide storage options. EtherNet/IP enables access to Rockwell Logix controller tags without a ladder logic change. Access to legacy controllers is supported.
Secure Viewer enables secure access to Web Studio HMI/SCADA applications using PCs, handheld PDAs and tablet PCs over wired or wireless connections. HMIs, industrial PCs and PDAs can be restricted to specified HMI/SCADA applications to prevent operators from unauthorized access to applications and system controls. Secure Viewer runs on Windows CE/XP/Vista-supported devices.
HTS 8.0 HMI software has new features that enhance compatibility, graphics and fault-tolerant Internet client connectivity, including server compatibility with Windows Vista/XP/2000/2003, expanded animation interface, new drivers, redundancy, enhanced WAP interface and third-party reporting.