Wireless Control System Access Enabled by iOS App

Opto iPAC Mobile application lets automation engineers and field technicians interact with SNAP PAC control systems using Apple iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad.

Opto iPAC Mobile application enables mobile manufacturing. Photo source: Opto 22.
Opto iPAC Mobile application enables mobile manufacturing. Photo source: Opto 22.
Access to the SNAP PAC control system is now available via mobile devices, including the Apple iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, through a new mobile app from Temecula, Calif.-based control system vendor Opto 22. The Opto iPAC iOS app provides detailed, real-time, control system information to authorized control engineers, instrumentation technicians and others so they can view, debug, and fine-tune their wirelessly accessible control and I/O systems.

The app is part of a trend toward mobile manufacturing that can help managers, technicians and machine builders save time and get more done. "We all know how inconvenient it can be to return to your desktop PC, or drag a laptop with you whenever you need to do simple control system maintenance like check wiring or view a system variable," says Steve Sauls, software engineer and iOS developer at Opto 22.  "With Opto iPAC and your smart phone or tablet, you have this capability in the palm of your hand."

Using the Opto iPAC application, devices running iOS (Apple's mobile operating system) can discover any wirelessly accessible Opto 22 SNAP PAC programmable automation controllers (PAC) and I/O systems on the control system network. Authorized Opto iPAC users with proper security credentials can inspect SNAP I/O points and PAC control strategy variables, and execute control functions such as turning digital output points on or off, writing values to analog outputs, and changing control variables and table entries. Specific I/O points and tag names can be retrieved, viewed, and saved to a “watch list” for quick future reference. Also, Opto iPAC users can start or stop any flowcharts running within their control strategies.

The Opto iPAC also offers support for virtual private networking and port forwarding, providing even more flexibility for authorized individuals who might be away from their facilities but still need remote access to their control systems.

The mobility enabled by Opto iPAC creates new opportunities for control system diagnostics, maintenance, and troubleshooting, says Sauls. Previously, engineers and technicians could inspect their SNAP PAC System controllers and I/O processors or perform other functions only through a PC running Microsoft Windows-based PAC Project software.

The Opto iPAC application is available for download from the Apple iTunes Store at a cost of $4.99 USD.

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