The new AutomationBrowser by SpiderControlTM has been filed for patent application!
Why the AutomationBrowser?
Web-based HMIs are today standard in automation for operation and monitoring. Through the available browsers – on a wide variety of devices – Web technologies offer a high degree of simplification and modularity in the development of graphical user interfaces. The same technology also allows operation in the operator panel, on the PC, smartphone or tablet. But: so far, so good – where are still unresolved problems today?
Web-based HMIs can be easily stored directly on controllers, because integrated embedded Web servers are available almost everywhere today.
A currently major obstacle are older Web HMIs, which are used on many installed controllers that are based on Java Applets and are no longer supported by popular browsers. These include, for example CODESYS Webvisu V2.x or even older SpiderControlTM OEM versions on PLC by Phoenix Contact, SAIA-Burgess, Panasonic and many more.
Another problem will arise when you have several automation systems in one system and the operator station has to jump back and forth between the various Web servers, so that the operator can even see all relevant information there. From technical point of view, this is not a problem. To switch from one server to another, the stored URL link will do. In practice, however, this can be complex and often problematic. That means you have to deposit the possible URL jumps in the HMIs and on all Web servers in advance. It is also a considerable effort and in some cases it´s not possible at all, if the Web HMI was developed by a third company. Another problem will be the log-ins. Usually there are several user levels in an operation for which one has to identify first. But if you jump from one Web server to another, this information is lost and the login procedure will start again. Another important issue is pop-up messages that should be displayed to the user immediately if there is a problem with the system. However, if this happens while the panel displays HMI fron another Web server, the user does not get this error. The SpiderControlTM AutomationBrowser by iniNet Solutions is developed to solve this problems and contains also other useful functionalities for automation. For example a so-called station list can be created directly in the AutomationBrowser, in which all connected controllers are stored with their URL. This list can be displayed at any time, even if the browser is currently located on an HTML page of a controller. It is not necessary to make any changes to existing Web HMIs of controllers. The difference to a „favorites“ list – as well known from a conventional browser: as the browser on the panel is expected to operate in „kiosk mode“ (full screen), it cannot access all normal functions of the browser menu. Only the station selection and, if necessary, a “back” button will be displayed. Also, the station list can be displayed in a touch-screen-friendly, large format in order to increase the user-usability. This start page can even be customized by a programmer. To solve the problem of compatibility with older web HMIs, several browsers have been integrated into AutomationBrowser. Invisible to the user, the AutomationBrowser simply selects the right viewer by itself, which makes it easy to integrate older Web visualizations like CODESYS V2. The answer to the annoying log-in problem is called “single sign-on”. The AutomationBrowser is able to save the log-in status on a
PLC or the associated passwords. In contrast to a normal browser, which saves the passwords of websites and automatically completes them at the next log-in, the AutomationBrowser uses the password of the current user when switching to another controller. If it logs out, the password is also deleted for safety reasons. If a new user comes and goes to another controller, the password of the predecessor should under no circumstances be used. Here, the password of the new user is queried once, stored and automatically used for log-out of the operator on all controllers for log-in.
The topic “collective alarm” also plays an important role. The AutomationBrowser can be configured to cyclically monitor specific variables from each controller and automatically jump to an alarm summary in the event of an alarm, allowing each user to respond promptly. This runs in the background, invisible for the operator. It does not affect the HMI performance in any way, as this monitoring takes place in a separate task. If desired, this task can fulfill further logging functions or store historical data. Most of the AutomationBrowser functionality can be easily used with existing Web HMIs without having to change these HMIs. As a result, the AutomationBrowser increases the practical suitability of existing Web-HMI’s, increases the customer’s benefit and the maintainability of the applications.
The new AutomationBrowser is now available for the operating systems Android and soon for Windows 10, other platforms are in development.
Click here for the product flyer AutomationBrowser.
Low-cost MicroBrowser panel
Touch panels in different display sizes to best possible price / performance ratio!
While control systems / PLCs have become more and more favorable over the last few years, the market prices for touch panels have rather increased.
Any cost reductions at the used processors were offset by higher visualization requirements, which called for new, more powerful processors, again.
By Cortex M3 / M4 – SpiderControlTM embedded design was used to open up this price spiral and at the same time enable functions such as alpha-blending, transparency and capacitive touch as a standard Windows CE OS, which was previously not supported.
A new category of web (server) panel – you wonder how is that possible?
The new category of web (server) panel – how is that possible?
The answer is simple: so far, the hardware architecture for the control of a TFT display was always based on the conventional PC concept. Microprocessor, external DRAM and Flash as well as various peripherals and a graphical operating system, such as Linux or WinCE. Even though the necessary chips have become permanently cheaper, the mechanical design of the circuit boards has a certain complexity and the possible cost reductions are somehow limited.
But now, devices based on an embedded microcontroller architecture, which has so far hardly been used for the application as TFT panels, have come onto the market. Since microcontrollers are used in high numbers, practically in all electrical devices, extremely favorable designs can be realized. Due to the miniaturization of the electronics, microcontrollers such as ARM Cortex M3 / M4 have appeared on the market, which combine just enough memory and functions on the chip to integrate the panel function on such a simple system. The MicroBrowser can be ported to these devices thanks to its compact design and it even works without an operating system.
Thus, TFT panels are first available at € 100.00 in the market.
But how can I benefit as a user?
If you use CoDeSys Web-Visu or a SpiderControlTM-OEM product, the MicroBrowser can be connected simply because it is compatible with these products. The effort is equal to zero. If the PLC does not have a web server, this can also be used by means of a fieldbus protocol, such as ISO-TCP for Simatic or Modbus. The web server is then located on the panel. This gives you an HTML5-capable web visualization that you can access from other external clients, such as a smartphone, tablet or PC.
Are complex software redesigns necessary?
As a manufacturer of SpiderControlTM software, we can offer the complete HMI software development at a fixed price. The advantage is that the costs can be reliably calculated and planned. The customer does not take any risk. The customer can calculate the amortization time of the investments immediately and receives as a bonus the connectivity on smartphones and to the cloud, if desired.
Which devices are available?
In this type of HMI you are not tied to any specific manufacturer, there are variety of offers. The devices are available in various sizes. 4.3″, 7″ to add 15″ panels are available with resisitive and capacitive touch.
MicroBrowser panels and web server panels based on the Cortex M Designs.
Panels with Cortex M3 / M4 design are available from several manufacturers.
On request, we will send you further information. For more information, click here.
Click here for the product flyer Spider MicroBrowser.
Do you have CoDeSys Web-Visu in use and problems with the Java applet?
Then the SpiderControlTM MicroBrowser is the right choice for you on a PC, panel or as an App.
CoDeSys has been providing a web visualization for many years, which can be run as a Java applet in any standard browser. However, the performance and the stability have not been satisfying in all aspects on embedded control panels. The SpiderControlTM MicroBrowser now offers as an embedded client for Web-Visu, a completely new approach, which can set new standards in terms of performance and stability.
How is this possible?
The Java Virtual Machines (JVM) that is used to this date on operating systems such as WinCE, required an immense amount of memory, which had a negative effect on the speed of the application. Java also uses a so-called ‘garbage collector’ for the automatic release of unused memory. This ‘Garbage Collector’ is called quite arbitrarily by the virtual machine itself, which leads to a very difficult to control real-time behavior. The consequences are instability in long-term behavior and poor performance. The SpiderControlTM MicroBrowser avoids both problems with a completely new approach. The Web-Visu application is interpreted at a higher (semantic) level so that a virtual machine is no longer necessary in the past. An instantaneous translation of the Web-Visu HMIs into the internal SpiderControlTM format is carried out so that they run on the very efficient and robust MicroBrowser Engine. The memory requirement is thereby reduced by factors and also the overhead generated by the virtual machine is completely avoided, which also improves the speed several times. The MicroBrowser also has a strictly deterministic storage management, which in turn guarantees a very solid long-term stability. Thus, for the first time Web-Panels are available for CoDeSys Web-Visu, which offer performance and stability at a low price!
SpiderControlTM MicroBrowser for CoDeSys Web-Visu is portable on virtually any platform, even on small microcontrollers like ARM Cortex M3 without OS.
Available are following platforms:
- WinCE 5/WinCE6/WEC
- (embedded) Linux (no X11 required)
The MicroBrowser also supports the HTML5-based Web-Visu of CoDeSys V3.x.
Use the SpiderControlTM MicroBrowser as a client!
Browsers on common PCs have a Java Virtual Machine, which can run the MMI’s as Java applets in the browser. However, the operation of Java applets is not possible on the usual smartphones – under iOS or Android. Use the MicroBrowser App instead!
With this App, it is possible to realize visualisations on smartphones. The compatibility with Web-Visu is given with SpiderControlTM.
SpiderControlTM is a technology-independent implementation of a scalable HMI platform. That is, SpiderControlTM clients can be developed in any programming language and technology. Through this flexibility and adaptability, the MicroBrowser also supports various smartphone Apps.
The following smartphone platforms are supported:
For more information, click here.