Operator Interface Graphics 101

Posted by Jeff Monforton on March 18, 2014 @ 12:52 pm

Graphics on an operator interface can range from very simple to extremely complex, so when creating them there are a few tips you should keep in mind.

Most automation and process control projects provide an operator interface presenting the current state of the system. These can range from the very simple to the extremely complex. The one aspect that they exhibit—perceived or real—is a reflection of the total job quality. The quality of the graphics will certainly leave a lasting impression; after all they are in the operators view every day. Developing a guide on how to create graphics would fill volumes. Add to that, some customers have standards on how graphics are to be done (adhere to these religiously, especially when you don’t agree with them). However, there are some design points that go a long way in making your graphical screens look polished. To be hones... Continue Reading

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5 basic questions for selecting a level instrument

Posted by Andy Crossman on March 12, 2014 @ 12:33 pm

Selecting the right level measurement instrument for your application can be difficult, but these questions are what you should be asking when evaluating your options.

Although level measurement instruments can be categorized by just two main categories—continuous and point level—selecting the right instrument can be complicated. Evaluating the many different sensing technologies and the accuracy of each for a specific application can be arduous. Below are the five basic questions to help you narrow your selection of level instruments. 1. Is a continuous or point (discrete) measurement is required? This decision is dictated by the process control scheme. If a specific level such as a high or low for an alarm condition is needed, then a discrete device will suffice. Point measurement will only indicate whether the level is above or below a specific point. If a ... Continue Reading

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New ideas for quality management: Part 2

Posted by John Clemons on March 5, 2014 @ 1:57 pm

Performing test results with the lab in control can be expensive, so how can we cut the budget and still get valued results?

Last time we started talking about some new ideas for manufacturing quality management. OK, not really new idea, just some good practical common sense. But, common sense that can have a huge impact on the shop floor making things a whole lot better when it comes to managing quality.
The old paradigm was lab-centric so that testing takes a long time. That means that getting feedback takes a long time and adjustments to the manufacturing process take a long time. The new idea is to put the operator in control and get the test results fast and get the feedback fast so that the proper adjustments can be made very quickly. It really is turning the old paradigm on its head. I’d like to keep this compare-and-contrast discussion goin... Continue Reading

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Choosing to virtualize your control systems

Posted by John Boyd on February 26, 2014 @ 1:12 pm

As we review our current facility control systems status we contemplate whether virtualizing part of or all of our control server/workstation environment is possible.

As we review our current facility control systems status we contemplate whether virtualizing part of or all of our control server/workstation environment is possible. With the looming concern of the retirement of Windows XP and the discontinued support from Microsoft after April 2014, virtualization of those legacy workstations will allow a more controlled migration to new operating systems and software platforms.
I’ve seen an uptick in requests from customers on whether to virtualize or continue with a physical server environment in their new control systems. A lot of the drive behind the customer’s request is the increased interaction with the customer’s IT organizations and their control syste... Continue Reading

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New ideas for quality management: Part 1

Posted by John Clemons on February 20, 2014 @ 2:53 pm

Manufacturing quality tests in the lab can take time, causing a delay in production. Consider rapid testing with operators to deliver prompt feedback and make necessary adjustments sooner.

OK – that title sounds a little grandiose, like I’ve come up with some brilliant new ideas that no one has ever thought of before. These ideas aren’t necessarily new (or even that brilliant); they’re really more like practical common sense. But, they can have a huge impact on manufacturing quality management and can really make things on the shop floor a whole lot better when it comes to managing quality. What I’m talking about here is the way that manufacturing quality tests and checks are performed, and the way that the results of those tests are then fed back into the manufacturing processes. Let me start with some compare and contrast ideas to get this discussion going. ... Continue Reading

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