Whether you are looking to upgrade a working plant and a range of legacy machines, or you’re a machine builder who supports a diverse range of customers, choosing your next operator interface panel(s) can be daunting. Depending on the installed base of PLCs and the experience of your programmers, Red Lion Controls seeks to make the process a little easier with the introduction of its new Graphite human machine interface (HMI) panels and included Crimson 3.0 software.
The HMIs, which can communicate with 13 devices simultaneously, include a built in web server, integrated data logging functionality and support for plugin modules that convert more than 250 protocols for integrating devices such as PLCs, drives, barcode readers and panel meters.
“The HMI has become the nexus of the machine, and Red Lion’s new Graphite series offers the highest level of protocol support to simplify even the most complex multivendor environments,” said Jeff Thornton, director of product management. “The new HMIs are supported by Red Lion’s Crimson 3.0 software, included at no extra cost, which allows customers to cost-effectively standardize on one HMI for all of their machines, regardless of the PLC or drive manufacturer used.”
Industrial organizations of all sizes can realize a reduction in development and commissioning times over traditional systems that use an HMI paired with separate I/O, PLCs and other controllers, Thornton added.
Eight models of rugged, cast-aluminum hardware, in sizes ranging from 7 in. to 15 in., have sleek bezels that provide a relatively large display given their overall dimension. Both the 7-in. and 10-in. HMIs are available with sunlight-visible screens. But the real innovation is in the connectivity: integrated protocol conversion, data logging and web-based monitoring and control capabilities provide quick set up and deep functionality no matter what legacy systems are already in place.
The Crimson 3.0 software is used to configure protocols, define data tags, set up applications and create an attractive user interface. The web server enables users to monitor and control applications via PCs, tablets or smartphones. SMS text-messaging and email alerts provide early warning of process issues.
Pierre de Giorgio, president at BlueBay Automation, whose system integration company does everything from electrical engineering to designing custom automated equipment, called the Graphite “the most feature-rich HMI that we have ever used.”
I’m interested in knowing how important protocol conversion is, and what features are most important when sourcing new HMIs you, so leave a comment here and let me know.