"It's an earthshaking event," began Mark Davidson, Wonderware's vice president of global marketing, at the Sept. 4 kick off of InTouch 10.0 and System Platform 3.0, at the company’s Lake Forest, Calif., headquarters. Just before announcement time, there was a magnitude-3.4 tremor in nearby Los Angeles. But the announcement proceeded as planned. The first hour of the presentation was broadcast over the Web to customers, journalists and integrators around the world.
Wonderware President Mike Bradley has told Automation World that this combined product announcement may be the biggest announcement in the 20-year Wonderware history. The company invested in more than 100 person-years of development, testing and quality over the past 4-1/2 years on these product re-writes.Vice President of Development Pankaj Mody pointed to the 4,500 meals expensed over the past several months—as developers worked late and over weekends to get the projects completed—as an example of the hard work.
System Platform 3.0 is essentially an updated and expanded ArchestrA implementation. Several systems integrators in previous interviews with Automation World eschewed talking about the underlying technology of ArchestrA (a service-oriented architecture), but described it as a way to model a plant within the integrated development environment (IDE). Programming is in "objects" and the new graphics are also objects that can be an attribute of another object (say a pump, for instance). The graphics are also vector-based, meaning they will scale to displays of different sizes. There is just one IDE for the entire system. Once an object is configured, it can be re-used many times. In fact, integrators cited this object reusability as the key business-performance boosting function of the new software. The System Platform also serves as the foundation for adding future manufacturing execution system (MES) components as the system matures.
The latest version of InTouch, the human-machine interface (HMI) and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) application, gets strength from the ArchestrA IDE, along with many new features. The new graphics package makes it easier to create, deploy and use. Much thought has been given to the display of images, for example, the ability of faceplates to zoom up on mouseover, then recede, alleviating the screen of unnecessary clutter.
Bill Sherwood, president of Albany, Ore., system integrator Progressive Software, added to the earlier remarks about the value of reusability, citing the value of a common development environment, improved scripting and increased collaboration ability. The new scripting is based on Microsoft .Net, an easier-to-use feature than the previous Wonderware scripting language that was derived from the C++ programming language.
Brad Wise, vice president of business development for integrator Maverick Technologies, in Columbia, Ill., pointed to the increased IT/automation integration as another key feature of the new products. Other benefits for both his company and its customers include the configuration and deployment tools (ability to deploy from a central server—an information technology, or IT-friendly feature), central change management, reduced commissioning and debug time, faster troubleshooting and the security features that take advantage of the latest Microsoft technologies while extending current IT security practices.
Wonderware Vice President of HMI/SCADA Business Rashesh Mody, while noting that there are more than 200 new features in InTouch 10.0, told the worldwide audience that the new graphics work on Microsoft operating systems 2003, XP and Vista. Even more interesting is the migration path permitting applications running in InTouch 2 on Windows version 2 to run on the latest InTouch.
Bradley, Wonderware president, said that Wonderware products are found in 1/3 of the world's manufacturing plants. Of the current 450,000 licenses, the company expects a "significant" number to upgrade. "We want to own the real-time space in manufacturing and infrastructure," he added.
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