Modern Data Collection for Industrial Automation
The Importance of Acronyms in Automation, Part 3:
HMI, SCADA, and RSView32
This post is part of a series all about the Importance of Acronyms in Networking. Part 1 looked at Network Address Translation (NAT). Part 2 took a technical look at the finer point of Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP). Part 3 is actually a two-for-one, defining both HMI and SCADA and providing insight as relates to your overall factory automation systems. Let’s start with the basic acronym definitions:
- HMI: Human Machine Interface
- SCADA: Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition
The Industrial Automation industry has turned its sights on data collection to make smarter business decisions over the past few years. Concepts such as live data, mobility, automatic reporting, and historical data have become a reality in most plants today. HMI and SCADA are two key building blocks to data collection.
Depending on your role – you have different data collection needs. A Controls Engineer might be trying to tie diverse HMI and SCADA devices together into one machine. A Plant Manager might want to view individual historical data for process equipment or production lines on demand. A Production Supervisor may have a need to analyze batch operations for an individual site against existing benchmark production parameters. For Rockwell Automation users, The FactoryTalk® family provides these manufacturing intelligence and analytics solutions.
Here’s an analogy; think of “FactoryTalk” as “Microsoft Office”. Whereas “Microsoft Office” has programs like “Microsoft Excel”, Rockwell Automation provides “FactoryTalk Historian”. Whereas “Microsoft Office” has programs like “Microsoft PowerPoint”, Rockwell Automation provides “FactoryTalk Analytics”. Historian and Analytics are part of the FactoryTalk suite. Make sense?
The Challenges of Outdated Software
RSView®32™ is an integrated, component-based HMI for monitoring and controlling automation machines and processes. RSView32 was launched many years ago and still offers a great solution for many users but you may find that the FactoryTalk® family provides functionality more in line with 2017 demands.
There are still several plants that are utilizing RSView32 as their HMI/SCADA software platform today. While this software may fall into the “if it’s not broken don’t fix it” category, there are some risks involved with using this software. The issue is with the compatibility of Window’s operating systems: RSView32 v7.6 is not supported on anything above Windows 7 Professional SP1 (32-bit), with the majority of versions not being supported above Windows XP. This means that if you were to lose a computer with Window XP installed, you will need to find a way to obtain a computer with XP installed. Normally not a difficult task, however, Microsoft stopped supporting Windows XP in 2014.
Are you as efficient as you could be?
Support and compatibility is a compelling reason why moving to something more current might make sense. There is another reason why moving to a FactoryTalk system can benefit your plant. To help explain this, we will be utilizing a device in your pocket right now; your smartphone. Let’s imagine you want to conduct three very simple actions: send a text message to a co-worker, check your inbox, and finally check your bank statement. These three actions would probably take you less than five minutes to conduct all from one device. The utilization of apps makes your everyday life more efficient. It is important to note that this ease of access to data has now become a technological norm.
Now let’s take a step back to the early 2000’s. You probably have a flip phone of some kind, right? Imagine doing the same three tasks using this flip phone. Yes, you could absolutely send a text message, but it may take longer without a keypad. There is a chance you could check your email, but it may not be as organized or streamlined. As far as checking your bank account goes, you are either going to have to access that on a computer, go to the bank, or call them and provide your information to them. Not very efficient by today’s standard, but it was the best technology available at the time.
That same analogy can be applied to a RSView32 system and a FactoryTalk System. RSView32 was the best technology available at the time and could meet the industry’s technological demand. The demands have changed and so has the technology; a FactoryTalk System can more efficiently do everything RSView32 could do and more. FactoryTalk View SE (HMI platform) acts as the “base” and other software products such as VantagePoint, Historian, Metrics, or AssetCentre act as “apps” to make your plant more efficient.
- FactoryTalk Analytics
- FactoryTalk VantagePoint
- FactoryTalk Historian
- FactoryTalk Metrics
- FactoryTalk EnergyMetrix
- FactoryTalk Transaction Manager
Better Business Decisions
So why upgrade? Obsolete SCADA systems and security concerns are a driver. Support and compatibility can often be a compelling reason to make a move. Moving from RSView32 to a modern day FactoryTalk platform will set the foundation for your plant to move forward and make more intelligent business decisions.
Are you concerned that your plant is not as efficient as it could be? In what ways is your team looking to drive increased efficiency?