“I haven’t felt this good about what we’ve done in years,” declared Mark Engman, chief executive officer of automation vendor Opto 22, in Temecula, Calif. There is no mystery to the message the company is conveying in its launch of an entirely new PAC system platform, Engman said. The mantra: Make things simple.
“We looked at the consolidation, product mergers and evolving technologies in the control and data acquisition industry. These led to continual additions of marginal features that make buying and using these products complex and difficult,” said Engman, in an exclusive interview with Automation World. “We said, ‘Let’s step back and take a hard look at how customers buy and use our products then make it easier for them to do both.’ ”
Opto 22 calls the overall product line “PAC System” for programmable automation controller. Its controllers are called “Brains.” The company has consolidated the number of Brains from seven in its previous product line to just two platforms in the new PAC System line. “You only have to answer two questions to discover which product you need,” stated Engman.
Another major innovation pointed out by Engman is in the OPC data link—a program that makes it easier for engineers to bi-directionally link OPC data in the Brain to a variety of corporate databases. OPC is an open communications standard. Further, the company is investing heavily in the latest Web-based video technology for training. Rather than long training courses, these are shorter videos in which an engineer demonstrates one function at a time.
The entire PAC System line consists of PAC Project Software Suite with Project, Control, Display, OPC Server and DataLink software; two Snap PAC brains which now include motion control capability; five new Snap I/O (input/output) modules, including 32-channel current and 32-channel voltage input modules; four new Snap PAC racks—simplifying the number of alternatives from the previous 15; Snap PAC Sim, a software application that simulates a fully functions Snap controller on a personal computer; and finally, Snap Motion control.