The use of mobile devices on the factory floor typically improves worker efficiency, whether it’s running or servicing equipment or checking production status and line information. However, setting up a mobile device to give operators the best user experience in control management is a little different than setting up a 19-inch. or larger fixed terminals installed on the factory floor. Often, if your food processor doesn’t have the engineering staff to make it happen, you’ll need to enlist the services of a system integrator.
Process and Data Automation (P&DA), a member of the KRONES Group, is a full-service, CSIA-certified industrial control systems integration company that provides control automation, data acquisition, and reporting engineering in industrial manufacturing environments throughout North America. I am. I spoke with Eric Williams, Digitalization Group Manager, to learn more about how PD&A works with manufacturers to not only install large-screen fixed terminals on the factory floor, but also how to move data from those big screens. I asked about whether to convert from a large screen to a small screen and save it. useful. Obviously, if a large display could be shrunk down to cell phone size, you’d need a microscope to see what’s on your phone’s screen. However, effective small screen HMI design requires a lot of careful planning and discussion with all stakeholders before starting.
FE: What products/services do you offer to facilitate the use of mobile devices on the factory floor?
Eric Williams: We have integrated mobile design and hardware into SCADA, OEE, quality, and turnkey line monitoring solutions. We also implement and support high-speed packaging lines using Krones’ Share2Act platform.
FE: This question and the questions that follow assume that a company-owned mobile device is being used to access company equipment and data.
Given that some machine controls still have their own fixed industrial user interface (UI) station, what applications (control, machine status, KPIs, machine disassembly with photos/video, etc.) Smartphones, notebooks, and tablets on the factory floor? What are your customers deploying most often?
Williams: Well, the client provides the mobile hardware required for operation. Most core control remains within the structured machine’s human machine interface (HMI) and SCADA system. On the industrial side, we have many clients who utilize mobile add-ons to monitor remote equipment within their facilities or in large enterprises. These allow you to see all the important elements in areas such as tank farms, wastewater treatment systems, and similar items that are separate from the facility’s main treatment equipment.
Many of the systems we deploy are built specifically for mobile. A quality system that spans many people and departments is a good example. Our Share2Act solution for packaging line solutions also fits this example, as it has both multiple machines and a large physical footprint, with a low number of operators. Operators in these environments interact not only with line controls but also with warehouse systems for raw materials and finished goods. These also work in conjunction with maintenance features, which our customers use every day to access manuals, videos, and real-time connections to back-end support from the machine manufacturer.
FE: Today, probably most websites (including food engineering) automatically resize to fit the device being used to view them, paging some content in favor of more important sections/pages. I’m pushing it out. Can this technology be effectively leveraged to display key machine/line status information regardless of the device connecting to the data?
Williams: Yes, absolutely. The development environments for these products are purpose-built to support this.
FE: From a programming perspective, are separate screens (UIs) and apps developed for each displaying device, such as a laptop, notebook, wearable, tablet, or smartphone?
Williams: Yes, but this is not difficult from a development point of view. Some front-end planning is required to keep the screen usable but not cluttered. We believe this design process is a good exercise in that it deepens our engagement with our clients and gives them a sense of ownership through good input.
FE: Does the latter method make more sense? This is because operators need to be able to see specific job-related data on the screen and ensure that it is not buried several levels down.
Williams: yes. Of course, this is more than just resizing. You have to make a plan. As the screen shrinks, the intensity of graphics tends to decrease. Additionally, you should plan to remove controls for things you don’t want to interact with via mobile. This allows the operator to go local to the equipment or her HMI for items to keep an eye on before engaging in actual control.
FE: Assuming that most wireless devices today support both cellular and Wi-Fi connectivity, how does that affect the system’s UI programming? Or is the wireless mode visible on the screen? What are the key wireless considerations if I need to deploy cellular, Wi-Fi, or both? For example: performance, number of visible screens? , coverage to remote areas of the factory, etc. What do you advise?
Williams: Typically, you will see wireless being utilized within a facility or within the facility’s main building. Mobile phones are being used for more remote operations, including remote monitoring of municipalities, tank farms, and facilities using VPN appliances.
FE: How do you design the most effective UI, especially in situations where an alarm is occurring on a noisy factory floor where the operator cannot hear the alarm on the device’s speaker? Do you mean wearing something? How is it safe in a plant environment? What are the options to ensure operators receive the right messages, whether machine-generated or human-generated?
Williams: Some applications utilize push notifications to indicate to the operator via phone or smartwatch that action is required on the line. Careful consideration should be given to the significance of the items that are expected to be accepted or addressed in this way. True mission-critical alarm situations are typically not addressed by this type of tool. Expectations and awareness of the safety threats posed by these devices must be instilled within organizations to prevent distraction-related accidents.
If you have a system installed that does not utilize push notifications, you will see a notification icon indicating the number of items that require your attention. This is typically reserved for non-critical or non-hazardous communications.
FE: How can AR (Augmented Reality), Virtual Reality, and/or AI be leveraged on wireless devices to improve the skill set of factory floor operators or technicians? What are the good applications? What technologies have already been successfully deployed?
Williams: For many years, Krones has been supporting clients with augmented reality solutions that connect field technicians with high-level backend support. This allows for advanced maintenance as well as direct connectivity to large amounts of data such as manuals and videos. With the launch of the Shopfloor Guide application within the Share2Act IIOT platform, direct field personnel, both customers and technical support, will have access to a large amount of the same information, along with all equipment performance information, and technical assistance in the event of an issue. Now we can come up with a solution. Failure. The entire Share2Act platform is designed for mobile and is optimized for use on tablets and phones.
FE: I didn’t mention this before, but how do I get the same data to look the same on Apple, Windows, Linux, and Android wireless devices? Do I need to care what device is being used, or is the UI built into the system to comply with the OS it’s being displayed on?
Williams: We only use software platforms that allow our mobile applications to work with modern browsers. Therefore, the operating system doesn’t matter as long as it supports modern browsers. To date, all clients using tablets, phones and other technology in the field have provided that hardware, so we know in advance what will be connected and what is on the machine as software. We have taken steps to ensure compatibility with and without. .
FE: Are there any other important issues to be concerned about?
Williams: When implementing mobile-based technology within your factory, you need a robust network system to ensure uptime. These networks must adapt to accommodate new devices as technology evolves. This differs from the strictly set-it-and-forget SCADA networks of the past. If the client wants to open the system to external facing solutions (such as remote access outside the factory), additional considerations arise regarding security threats, food safety requirements, etc. When a client requests an external connection, we ensure that both our and the client’s work is done to properly differentiate between what should happen on-site, within its equipment and personnel, and what can happen remotely. We take great care to play an advisory role because it is needed. In almost all cases where even basic control is provided remotely, we design our solutions to utilize multi-step verification to actually put the equipment into operation.