New mobile apps are being designed to combine traditional PLC process control with the IT world and factor networks, with the goal of enabling users to easily get process data from machines on the manufacturing floor. (Source: Bosch Rexroth Corp.)
Al, this is an interesting trend. On the other hand, there is another trend that will affect this. PC's are becoming more like tablets. There are now PCs with detachable displays that become tablets. There are others where the display pivots so that the whole device becomes a tablet (actually IBM/Lenovo has had one for some time). These are touch devices, and being PCs have a lot more processing power than tablets. If you just need a portable display that can also access exteranl data, then a tablet might be fine. On the other hand, tablets do not do multitasking that well.
By using the latest HTML standards, developers can avoid limitations imposed by the device architecture. That is a good way to go.
Naperlou, Thanks for your comments. The groov solution from Opto22 actually provides a browser-based, HTML 5/CSS solution which should work on any of the devices you mention (and should be a nearly universal solution). The Open Core engineering approach enables the OEM machine to build an app using a software platform they select, so the machine builder would need to target specific platforms. Good input.
I dislike the disposable civilization we have but low-cost HMIs such as android tablets make some sense in an industrial environment. I've seen too many VERY expensive HMIs destroyed by the act of using them (dust, grit, cutting the resistive screen). Using a low cost screen, tossing it when it fails, might be the less-expensive route.
At this point, the greatest number of mobile devices in use are for monitoring, gathering data and production information. There are definitely some iPads being implemented as HMIs on machines but I don't get the sense that it represents a significant trend.
Very Very interesting Al. I retired some years ago from a major in the appliance industry. As a design engineer, we had responsibility for monitoring reliability testing for components used in our designs; i.e. subassemblies and overall assemblies. This, back then, this meant two-maybe three- trips per day to the reliability test lab to look at and evaluate the date. Trends, as you might imagine were very important. We evaluated products between upper and lower specification limits and against vendor limits of acceptability. That lab was in an adjacent building so component monitoring was a time-consuming process. The technology you mention would greatly aid efforts in keeping track of failures and off-quality performance. Let' hope this trend continues. Again--excellent post. Good informaiton.
bobjengr, The kind of needs you had are one of the prime areas where this technology will be useful in the short run. It provides a way to easily gather important production and/or engineering information in a convenient format. Thanks for your note.
One of the biggest walls in embedded software development is the integration of low-level drivers with higher-level middleware and application code, but silicon vendors are stepping up to bring it down.
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