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Inductive Automation
News Room

News / February 08, 2011

Non-Traditional HMIs Are On the Rise

Ignition Allows Users To Expand the Definition of 'HMI'

More and more users want to move beyond the realm of traditional HMI/SCADA systems, and are discovering how Ignition is perfectly suited to help them. Users want to provide inventory tracking, track and trace, downtime, OEE, merge plant-floor data with the MES layer, and more.

Ignition's support for PLCs through OPC makes it easy to deal with plant-floor data for real-time status and control, historical data trending, etc. Not only does Ignition provide plant-floor support, it can communicate easily with SQL databases, making it a perfect solution to these demands.

SQL Databases Unlock Potential
SQL databases are a core part of any business today. They have reached a high level of maturity, and allow even relatively inexperienced users to get up and running quickly.

IT departments understand this technology well and can work together with plant-floor management to build more powerful systems. Most business-level applications are already based on SQL databases such as Oracle and Microsoft SQL Server, and Ignition comes ready with built-in drivers to communicate to these database systems.

Ignition was designed with to work with SQL databases – Ignition then acts as a hub, tying databases together from various departments and levels of the enterprise.

Moving Beyond The "HMI"
Given the speed and ease with which users can build data-driven screens in Ignition, it is increasingly being used to build systems far away from the traditional view of an "HMI". Customers are replacing systems that were previously built in Microsoft Access, and spread throughout their company, with a centralized system built on Ignition.

One example application is inventory tracking. Many companies have custom inventory applications built on Access, which are difficult to maintain and to make accessible to new users. A user with basic database experience can build a similar system in Ignition in a matter of days, and can make the system accessible to anyone they desire instantly over the network.

By combining your HMI application with your inventory tracking application, you make your system more flexible and easier to manage. Data is stored and backed up in one location, and the IT department can easily monitor and manage that data. Access to the data is simpler since you only have one application to launch. Ignition's cross-platform architecture and web-launched clients allow more users to see the system.

Non-Traditional Examples
There are a lot of examples of non-traditional HMI applications. You can get ideas of these kind of applications by looking at what your company already has in place. Here is a list of examples:

- Inventory Management
- Timesheet Management
- Customer Relationship Management
- Knowledge Base
- Ticketing System
- Machine User Manual (PDF) Management
- and many more….

Ignition can be used with the database alone (no PLC) to create applications like the ones mentioned above. When combined with the plant floor data that Ignition allows you to access, you can bring the data to life and offer an experience that is far beyond that of traditional HMIs.