Considering a change to FPMI. Any advice?

My company has been using RsView for 9 years. We designed our control screens when we initially started using it and we’ve never re-examined the design since then. When we’d build a new machine we’d pretty much copy and paste so all the machines looked the same. I’m working on a project right now that is forcing us to take a new look at how our screens are put together and from the looks of it we’re going to pretty much completely overhaul them.

I’ve brought up the idea of using FactoryPMI to a couple of the other engineers and they’re open to the idea. It appears as though we’d save money all around. Since it’s server-based we wouldn’t need a computer for every workstation. Rsview is also VERY expensive. 300 tags isn’t quite enough, but the next option up is 1,500 for $5,000. Ouch. If we have two computers per machine, that’s $10,000 just in software! The idea of unlimited clients and tags is very attractive. Of course there are a lot of things for us to consider besides price, like a learning curve (we’re intimately familiar with RsView), the pros and cons to server-based controls, if it can do everything we’re currently doing in RsView, etc…

From a control standpoint, does FactoryPMI have the same capabilities as RsView? I understand if you are not intimately familiar with RsView, but I welcome any other users who may have made the switch to chime in. I’m running into the limits of what RsView is capable of, and designed to do. I’d like to partially combine HMI with SCADA. RsView is fine for HMI but lacks badly in the SCADA department.

Our operators currently take readings by hand on paper every 5, 10, 15, or 20 minutes during their batches. This is called a run sheet. We’d like to do away with hand writing and do it electronically. Using FactorySQL (which I’m EXTREMELY happy with by the way), I’m logging all the required data points and the supervisor can set the time between readings. When the operator shuts down the batch they’re asked if it’s done or will be finished later. If they mark it as done, I want two print outs; a chart of the temperatures, pressures, and scale weights, and an electronic version of their paper run sheet. I’d like to know if FactoryPMI is capable of this. I’ve watched the videos on charts, which look great, almost mind blowing, but what about a simple data view? The run sheet should look almost like an Excel spreadsheet.

Furthermore, during their batch I’d like the run sheet data to be displayed on their main control screen in data view, and update every time new data appears in the database. In RsView there’s just no easy way to do this, and I don’t want to have to write a bunch of custom code to achieve it.

To trigger the print outs I’ve been experimenting with some ideas. Since there’s no good charting option in RsView, I’ve been putting the charts together in Access. I figured I could have a computer running a separate instance of RsView, and when a batch is marked as done, it can open the Access file, which has an autoexec macro that opens the charts and run sheet, prints them, and automatically closes itself. It’s such a roundabout way of doing it, I just know there’s a better way. I’d love to know if FPMI has these capabilities. It will greatly weigh into our decision to switch or not.

One more thing: Our production network is totally separate from our enterprise network. The only connection is through a firewall which passes SQL data. We can view the SQL data from the enterprise network, but not interact with the network or the computers in any way. Is FactoryPMI capable of bridging the two networks? Or would we need an installation of it on each network?

Regarding the Run Sheet questions.

I did something similar with a set of HeatTreat furnaces here. I used the reporting plugin to create all of my quench, thermal deviation, furnace load reports and have them displayed using one application. I created a 2nd version of the same application that I keep running on a seperate machine(as i’m still testing all of this) which waits for my Furnace Load done signal and then prints out the latest reports based on that.

So displaying reports, yes. Autoprinting reports based on some criteria, yes. Updating to the newest report infomation in real time, yes.

So those functions at least I know you can do.

Thank you Dravik. Are these graphical charts you’re printing? Any idea about the data sheet view?

In short, yes. See this thread too which covers many of the same topics: FPMI as an RSViewSE Replacement

Sure, you could do this with the very capable Table component, or the Reporting Plugin.

I know of quite a few customers that do this. It is somewhat awkward, but the basic idea is that you write a background timer script that runs in a single client that checks for a condition, and when it is met, you open up some report windows and print them.

This is very common, and is really just a networking issue. Most customers simply use a multi-homed server for their SCADA server (with FactoryPMI Gateway on it). That is, the FactoryPMI gateway machine has 2 NICs that bridge the two networks. This way clients can be launched on both the corporate and control networks.

Hope this helps,

Carl, thank you, yes that was very helpful.

I’m glad to know that what we did with two separate networks isn’t uncommon. I don’t talk to a lot of people in the industry about our solutions so I’m glad I didn’t invent something new. We do have two NIC’s in our server, but one is connected only to the firewall. Maybe if I could convince management of the benefits we could loosen up a bit on the security.

I’ll read that thread tomorrow at work. Thank you for pointing that out. I may have found it if I spent a little more time searching.

One of my reports has a pie chart and some spiffy company logos but that’s about it.

I do print out a SS style report as well, mostly just furnace temps.