Kontron has added two flexible and scalable panel PCs to its range, fulfilling the growing trend for the use of attractively designed, large format, multi touch screens in the industrial automation environment

Vast improvements to industrial automation and factory floor capabilities and processes have been realized in the last decade from robotics, network connectivity and advanced computing technologies.  Advancements in human machine interface (HMI) technologies have helped companies gain critical access to factory production information.  However, there are continued demands for HMI improvements that deliver increased real time data to improve factory line monitoring, control and productivity. Plus, the tasks confronting HMIs are becoming more complex. Factory equipment and  facility operations are now being networked on a larger scale, which means access to essential data and information is constantly growing. The emergence of “shop floor analytics” and “smart manufacturing” practices call for greater transparency and enhanced efficiencies throughout the production process and manufacturing operation.

Precise control

While factory floor processes have progressed substantially, the manual monitoring and control of machines and equipment is still a difficult and time consuming task. Also still an issue is the precise control of equipment speeds and settings   existing knobs and switches do not provide the accuracy needed for automation optimization.

Furthermore, there is also the need for factory automation solutions to offer a single access point that performs complex, real time calculations, solving multiple factory floor issues and offering line level benefits. Such benefits include enhanced control of factory production and adequate computing performance for production data analysis and enabling workers to thoroughly evaluate the entire production line to make any needed adjustments or develop productivity reports.  This convergence of factory automation systems can be achieved by integrating digital touch screen technology into the latest HMI tools providing the precision and accuracy needed for increased production line setting control. 

Multi touch capability is a function which mobile phone or tablet PC users are already very familiar with. The primary benefit of a capacitive touch screen is ease of use, although it also helps achieve aesthetic design. Both these features are playing a more and more important role in the field of industrial automation.

Large format wide screens

Besides the multi touch capability, large format wide screens are another important trend. Today more and more 12.1 or 15.6 inch screens are being used by industrial companies and the 15 or 17 inch monitors are gradually being replaced by 20 to 24 inch screens. Likewise, 4:3 displays are going to gradually be replaced by the wide screen format 16:9. Obviously, more information can be displayed on large format screens and the user can more easily interact with the system. The scratch resistant glass surface offers maximum protection and is simple to clean. Also, to enable systems to be upgraded more simply and the monitors exchanged with no upheaval, the hardware and the software have to be compatible. New employees can become familiar with the system so much faster if the components are perfectly matched.

One supplier keeping a keen eye on all these developments, is Kontron. Both its new products, the Micro Client 3 and the OmniClient which embrace  the latest trends for industrial panel PCs, were showcased for the first time at the SPS/IPC/Drives 2012.

The HMIs are not only intelligent and intuitive, but scalable too. There are a range of different display sizes which come in a modern industrial design   a basic concept, which will be carried on into the new product families in 2013. This continuity – together with long term availability and a 10 year lifecycle   gives industrial customers investment security.

Capacitive touch screen debut

The Micro Client 3 series controls machines on production line level. The Micro Client 3W in 15.6 inch is Kontron’s first product to feature a capacitive touch screen, multi touch function and a 16:9 wide screen with a glass surface, and allows for the precise control of production lines. The series is available in different display sizes ranging from 10 to 17 inch. Its double layer capacitor (Gold Cap) means the Micro Client 3 series is virtually maintenance free. It also features powerful graphics, CPU and an LED backlight.

Dedicated industrial design

The OmniClient, a successor of the V Panel Express, has been developed especially for industrial automation. The panel PC monitors and controls all the machines in a factory and is suited to supervision tasks in industrial manufacturing processes. It comes in a user friendly design with a rimless wide screen display and resistive 5 wire touch screen with a range of 15 to 23 inch monitors. Further features are the LED backlight as well as its wireless connectivity.

Both HMIs offer a 10 year long lifecycle, and the price/performance ratio has been improved in comparison to their predecessors. All Kontron’s products have to pass rigorous in house testing before they are launched into the market. The company’s global organisation provides industrial customers with extensive after sales support.


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