Parker Hannifin has come up with a snazzier take on distributed HMIs. The company's patent-pending Interact Xpress Manager allows users to create Web-published HMI applications that use Adobe Flash technology.
“Using Flash is pretty unique in this kind of application,” says James Brashear, a senior software engineer for Parker's Electromechanical Automation Div. “But we like the way it allowed us to display great graphics.” What's more, Flash allows the HMI applications to contain movies, animations and other rich media useful for training and alarming functions.
As part of a distributed system, the kind you might find on very large machines or production lines with multiple HMIs, Interact Xpress Manager supports multiple browser-based client stations at any given time. Each client hosts a separate instance of the same applications, allowing multi-station and even remote support. Application development and support is “versionless,” as it takes place within a Web-browser environment. “It's a good choice for users who want remote access to their HMIs or who want to remotely edit their applications,” says Brashear.
Interact Xpress also goes along with its own line of HMI hardware. Parker's XPR Powerstations are industrially hardened HMI stations specifically designed to run the company's Interact Xpress' Flash-based software. These units include a “headless,” or no-display, model that provides remote Web access to an existing control panel, as well as self-contained models with TFT displays up to 15 inches. All of the units are designed to operate in 0 to 50C ambient temperatures with NEMA 4/4x sealing on all the display units.
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For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.