“There’s an app for that.” There is no doubt that smartphones and tablets have reshaped the way we interact with others and the world around us. Communication has become faster and easier, information is at the tips of our fingers at all times.
As technology makes its way into every part of our lives, it is also making its way into the industrial world. In a plant, apps can help with everything from viewing manuals to monitoring key performance indicators to receiving notifications about safety alarms. With a plethora of apps available, here are three types to look into:
Product Specific Apps
Companies like Siemens and Automation Direct have done the work for you and have created apps that are geared towards their products. For example, Siemens has the SIMATIC S7-1200 app that connects to S7-1200 controllers. Through WiFi, you can connect to up to 50 CPUs and monitor and adjust different tags throughout the system. Automation Direct’s C-more panels can be connected with their C-more app. The app turns an iPhone or iPad into the HMI, just like the panel itself.
HMI Style Apps - not limited to Automation Direct
There are a number of HMI apps that can vastly improve production. With a remote HMI, monitoring and adjusting systems doesn’t have to happen right in front of the machinery. Real-time data that would normally be on the HMI panel can be accessed in the palm of your hand. This can improve efficiency, see where issues are, or may occur, and keep you more connected to time sensitive projects.
A third type of app takes advantage of the cameras on phones and tablets. Organization and records can be further digitalized. Cameras can be used to keep track of barcodes to follow products and machinery, and stay up-to-date on maintenance tasks. Cameras can also document and share operations and data to improve communication in between operators.
In general, the usefulness of mobile apps should not be overlooked. Being able to adjust systems away from the floor means improved efficiency, which leads to energy and monetary savings. It can also prevent mishaps and potentially dangerous situations by allowing you to keep an eye on sensitive machinery and receive notifications about alarms on the floor. Even more basic apps like PDF readers and flashlights can improve working conditions greatly.
When looking into possible technological advancements for your manufacturing systems, be sure to see what industrial apps are available to take your production to the next level.