In the same way that 7.5 million sports fans used Internet-capable devices to get up-to-the-second video and data streaming about their favorite teams during the 2008 Summer Olympics, manufacturers now can remotely monitor the plant-floor operations status using FactoryTalk ViewPoint software from Rockwell Automation. FactoryTalk ViewPoint software is one of the first commercially available, thin-client applications for manufacturing built using the new Microsoft Silverlight technology. The initial release extends visualization and real-time decision capabilities beyond FactoryTalk View clients to browser-based remote users.
FactoryTalk ViewPoint software supports fully scalable and animated Web displays of existing FactoryTalk View Site Edition (SE) visualization software and Allen-Bradley PanelView Plus applications from the office, home or on the road via any Internet browser. While the initial release is Internet Explorer (IE) compatible, additional browser and device support is planned. IE’s active hyperlinks and the navigational functionality deliver an interactive experience in addition to typical browser functionality such as favourites, and forward and back navigation buttons.
“Mobility is increasingly important to manufacturers, creating a demand for access to FactoryTalk View applications from different devices,” said Mark Hobbs, product manager, Rockwell Automation. “FactoryTalk ViewPoint software allows managers, OEMs and system integrators to view and manage their production operations using nothing more than a Web browser from many compatible platforms.”
Initially offered as an add-on for existing FactoryTalk View customers, FactoryTalk ViewPoint software was developed using Microsoft Silverlight technology – the same technology used by NBC to air videos of the Beijing Olympics online.
“To meet the requirements of today’s mobile and remote users, we were eager to work with Rockwell Automation in developing FactoryTalk ViewPoint software based on Silverlight,” said Chris Colyer, global director of Manufacturing Operations Strategies at Microsoft Corporation. “Our work with the Beijing Olympics and NBC proved that Silverlight technologies can stream sharp, clear graphics in real-time over the Internet. Rockwell Automation takes Silverlight’s rich user experience to users on the plant floor, while providing crisp, live visual information on operations to enterprise users.”
Silverlight is a cross-browser, cross-platform plug-in delivering rich, interactive applications on multiple Web browsers and mobile devices. The plug-in loads and updates automatically, saving users time. Lacking the “big-server” needs of Terminal Services, FactoryTalk ViewPoint software lowers the total cost of ownership since no client software is needed to install or maintain the functionality.
An unrivaled user experience results from fully scalable graphic displays along with consistent HMI navigation. As the user clicks through the FactoryTalk View application, graphic objects display current values or operational states in real time. With navigational functionality mirroring today’s most popular browser, users have the ability to easily establish “favourites” and quickly progress through screens with “forward” and “back” buttons.
“Manufacturers want to access and aggregate real-time production process information to drive factory visibility and intelligence,” said Craig Resnick, research director, ARC Advisory Group. “HMI software that utilizes flexible, multifunctional, interoperable platforms and provides thin-client interfaces with other platforms is driving factory visibility and intelligence, as well as playing a major role in providing critical information for key performance indicators and plant-wide metrics. FactoryTalk ViewPoint software appears to fulfill that requirement, as well as complement the Rockwell Automation Integrated Architecture, tapping into a significant installed base of FactoryTalk View Site Edition visualization software and providing users with another tool for accessing critical plant-floor data.”
FactoryTalk ViewPoint software adds to a number of existing Performance and Visibility applications already available with the FactoryTalk Integrated Production and Performance Suite. The software suite delivers comprehensive business benefits across six production disciplines common to most manufacturing operations. These scalable software applications are designed for tight integration with the Rockwell Automation Logix Control Platform and extensive connectivity to third-party and legacy systems.
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