Need Remote Control?

April 11, 2003

These days it seems that everybody in the plant needs to be someplace else ," at least part of the time ," so software that allows remote access to vital information is a hot commodity. Now two vendors are offering solutions to different pieces of the "remote control" dilemma.

Tools for building remote views

GE Fanuc introduced a new version of CIMPLICITY DataViews software, which allows remote users to access critical data via a standard Web browser or a corporate intranet. Part of the CIMPLICITY Collaborative Production Management suite, DataViews is a developer tool that enables users to build dynamic graphical software displays for visualizing information used to control and monitor real-time processes. Programmers can create their own human machine interfaces while continuing to use their chosen programming languages and platforms.

This version of DataViews offers thin client technology. All software processing is performed on the server, so the client computer needs only a browser. GE Fanuc says this technology also lowers total cost of ownership because new users can access the application without having to install additional software, thus eliminating the need for added configuration, maintenance or upgrades on each user's machine.

DataViews comes with a Web server, which also speeds and simplifies implementation on an intranet. A concurrent user license is maintained on the server; as soon as one user finishes accessing the system, that license becomes free for the next user.

DataViews tools are scaleable and enable monitoring and control of complex systems in a variety of industries.

Off-site monitoring

Siemens Energy and Automation is adding two new tools to its suite of remote monitoring systems.

The Instruwatch remote monitoring system and are hardware/software combinations that enable users to check inputs from equipment remotely and provide automatic notification of alarm events by fax, page and/or e-mail.

Both systems connect to users' equipment and gather data that then are sent to a secure Web site maintained by Siemens. Users then access the site to get the information they need. Instruwatch can connect to as many as six different pieces of equipment at a time. will take input from as many as four analog systems, but through expandability provided by Modbus RTU, it can access up to 32 level readings.

The Instruwatch unit connects to analog or discrete outputs from a variety of industrial equipment, including storage tanks, pumping stations, gas compressors, refrigeration units, elevators, pipes and other industrial equipment. takes readings at remote sites using ultrasonic, capacitance or radar measuring equipment and sends reports about level status, tracks trends and provides real-time information for bulk material level monitoring to enable better inventory control.

The two systems notify users of any pre-set alarm conditions through a data network to a secure Internet Web site. They send instant notifications of "out of spec" events by fax, page and/or email; offer access to data worldwide through the Internet; and provide checks of equipment health as many as 12 times a day. Instruwatch uses a cellular modem to connect equipment to the secure Web site. offers delivery options that include landlines, cellular modem or satellite connections. also keeps historical data for users and has an instant up-date feature. Both systems allow users to schedule regular updates, but offers the additional capability of receiving updates on request at other times of the day.

Instruwatch and are useful for monitoring applications in the water and wastewater, pulp and paper and chemical industries, as well as in general site security operations.

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