A Leap Ahead with Enterprise Visualization

Oct. 2, 2014
Schneider Electric’s Wonderware System Platform and Wonderware InTouch HMI software make a game-changing leap ahead with the 2014 R2 versions. Sessions at the 2014 Software Customer Conference provided details.

Despite the significant improvements packed into the 2014 release of its InTouch and Wonderware System Platform HMI and supervisory control products in January, Schneider Electric used its 2014 Software Customer Conference to provide details on 2014 R2 versions.

“We had a lot of momentum in January and we’re building on our successes. Rather than wait until next year, we knew we could get this into the market now,” said John Krajewski, director of HMI and supervisory product management. The 2014 release gave customers better situational awareness, for example, not just in process graphics, but also in alarm management. There were well over 100 new features introduced then. With R2, we’ve continued to strengthen those and other areas. InTouch 2014 R2 also will help those users significantly catch up to what has been available with Wonderware System Platform users for a long time.”

Improvements help reduce the volume of alarms users have to deal with, by enabling time-based alarm shelving and state-based suppression of nuisance alarms. “This is great new functionality for trimming down alarm lists, and reducing the ‘noise’ that operators are subjected to,” said Krajewski.

In version 2014, changes were made to where alarms were stored by integrating them directly into Wonderware Historian. “Now, it’s an order of magnitude improvement: increases in the number of alarms stored per second, and the amount of information that can be stored will let people maintain records for longer. It allows maintenance of larger record sets to improve overall plant performance,” he said.

Situational awareness was improved in 2014 with a new library of symbols and R2 includes significant additions and improvement to that library. When before there was one valve symbol, for example, now there is a choice of 10 that can be combined to create hundreds of variations. Another improvement is something called pre-attentive processing, which means symbols change color or get haloed to show they are active.

Such functions “make it easier to train the operators, as well as easier for engineers to build the screens,” said Krajewski.

Krajewski said the company also introduced a high-performance trend function that can be used for real-time control and decision making processes. “We supported a handful to as many as 200 trends on a display in January. With R2, we added new trends, and also exposed historical data to real-time process graphics. Our historian is good at storing this data, but to use it in displays other than trend charts, you had to use special tool sets before.”

Improved Ease of Use

Another theme of improvements in R2 is ease of use. “We wanted to make it easier to build out standard representations so users could get straight to assembling their applications,” said Krajewski. “We introduced some very advanced capabilities that are simple to use. We redesigned our data structures and editors to make them clearer to people who are familiar with a tag-based approach.”

Automatic I/O binding lets users automatically point and click to combine (or “bind”) PLCs, RTUs and other field device data that support a symbolic addressing identifier. “Combining the object editor with the object binding should make building an application extremely easy,” he said.

Connector points in process graphics also make it easier to build wiring diagrams or piping instrumentation diagrams. With them now included, “you can drag and drop equipment or connectors to rearrange these things. We expect this to greatly simplify management of flow diagrams,” Krajewski said.

Standalone InTouch offering

Wonderware InTouch 2014 R2 users get improvements that help them catch up to what has been available to Wonderware System Platform users for a long time. Every InTouch user has access to hundreds of new functions with the earlier 2014 release. With Release 2, users can convert the pixel-based graphics of InTouch and convert them to ArchestrA vector graphics with a click. Vector-based graphics resize easily, look better and are easier to change and work with. And before, InTouch users needed to use two different tools in order to incorporate them. In 2014 R2, they’re integrated.

“We’ve taken our ArchestrA graphics and opened them up to nearly every InTouch user. If they want to move from Wonderware InTouch to Wonderware System Platform, it protects their investment. This lets them leverage their existing personnel and applications assets; they don’t have to reengineer,” said Krajewski.

For a summary of what was new in System Platform 2014 and InTouch 2014, see the January webinar:  http://wonderwarenorth.com/webinar-21214-whats-new-in-intouch-2014-system-platform-2014/

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