GE Gets a Touch Closer to Automation Data

Rob Spiegel

January 24, 2014

2 Min Read
GE Gets a Touch Closer to Automation Data

In a further step toward putting automation data at the control engineer's fingertips, GE Intelligent Platforms has released QuickPanel+, an operator interface that takes the embedded data historian and connects it to a touchscreen. QuickPanel+ is designed to be a general-purpose interface capable of connecting to a variety of industrial PLCs and PACS. The goal was to provide faster processing speeds and more memory while delivering a view of control information and historian data in a single device.

In the spirit of giving industrial users the ease of a consumer product, GE uses capacitive touchscreen technology to make the device as responsive as a tablet or smartphone while it's still designed to be robust enough to withstand industrial environments and applications -- even for the user wearing gloves.

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Just as smartphones and tablets are competing function against function, automation interfaces have also become a competitive field. Plant operators are beginning to expect their work devices to match the intelligence of their home devices. "Customers want better intelligent machines, to operate them smarter, and redefine the interaction with their equipment," Bernie Anger, general manager of Control & Communications Systems at GE Intelligent Platforms, told Design News. "The operator interface is a pivotal point in this connected architecture where people and machines interact."

GE created QuickPanel+ to be a single solution for controlling, viewing, and understanding past and present plant performance. The multi-functional device combines the ability to view machine status with the ability to control the machine. The interface can also run a data historian, bringing plant performance data right up to the control functionality.

Anger said the device runs on a Windows operating system that can also draw on multi-media resources within the plant as well as resources on the Internet. "QuickPanel+ is available on the Windows Embedded Contact 7 operating system providing users a fully functional browser and multimedia support for assets like training videos on-demand," he told us.

Anytime you connect to the plant network with a device that also connects to the outside world, security is a big issue. "With QuickPanel+, we have worked extensively to make our product secure," said Anger. "Features like password authentication, role permissions, hardening of the OS to stop unwarranted traffic, and disabling unessential services by default helps makes QuickPanel+ more secure. In addition, we are taking it through Achilles testing." The Achilles Test Platform from Wurldtech Security Technology is a cybersecurity and communications robustness testing appliance for connected devices that finds known and unknown vulnerabilities, allowing faults to be reproduced, isolated, and identified.

QuickPanel+ is available now in 7-inch and 12-inch screen formats. Other screen sizes will become available early this year.

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About the Author(s)

Rob Spiegel

Rob Spiegel serves as a senior editor for Design News. He started with Design News in 2002 as a freelancer and hired on full-time in 2011. He covers automation, manufacturing, 3D printing, robotics, AI, and more.

Prior to Design News, he worked as a senior editor for Electronic News and Ecommerce Business. He has contributed to a wide range of industrial technology publications, including Automation World, Supply Chain Management Review, and Logistics Management. He is the author of six books.

Before covering technology, Rob spent 10 years as publisher and owner of Chile Pepper Magazine, a national consumer food publication.

As well as writing for Design News, Rob also participates in IME shows, webinars, and ebooks.

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