Our next-generation visualization product is aimed at addressing each of these key points. To achieve an intuitive, flexible user interface, we're modeling these products after commercially available mobile devices such as tablets. Everyone can operate these devices and they appeal to a new generation of workers. The days of large, clunky touchscreens is gone and we are now seeing faster navigation and keyboard-less operation.
The survey also queried respondents on how valuable would it be if the control system would require no programming skills to change parameters and troubleshoot the machinery, providing all access to the control system from the operator interface. Almost two thirds responded that this functionality would be extremely valuable (41.3 percent) or highly valuable (33.5 percent).
Troubleshooting the machine from the HMI is an interesting development because diagnostics are often not implemented on many machines. Modern machines are more complex than in the past, with electronics used for more functions that used to be done mechanically. There is the complexity of more axes, programmable safety systems, but also pressure on the machine builders to provide additional diagnostics. The challenge is to make it simple to automatically generate control system diagnostic screens to be used either offline using a Web browser or embedded on the HMI.
John Kowal, market development manager for B&R Industrial Automationm, told Design News:
One key trend is the idea of convergence and how we are seeing control platforms are adding functions that goes beyond traditional control. Visualization and troubleshooting are real needs in the marketplace, and there is a need for HMIs to be more intuitive and interactive than in the past.
Kowal predicts we are going to see companies investing more in animations, videos, tying effective work instructions into fault codes, and using technology to overcome language and education barriers. All of this confirms the need to simplify machine operations and diagnostics, features machine builders will implement as long as it is easy to do. Ready-made diagnostics need to be available out-of-the-box to provide a solution for this increased need for visualization and diagnostics.
Another survey question probed interest in a universal, standards-based specification to reduce the proliferation and complexity of electrical specifications for machine control being developed by the OMAC Packaging Workgroup. More than half of the respondents said they would be likely to embrace such a standard.