Turn Any Panel PC Into an Ignition HMI

55 min video  /  49 minute read Download PDF View slides


Don Pearson

Chief Strategy Officer

Inductive Automation

Kent Melville

Director of Sales Engineering

Inductive Automation

Ross Sheffler

Control Systems Integrator III


The traditional human-machine interface (HMI) is a hardware-and-software solution used to view and track data in all kinds of industrial settings. Lately, supply-chain problems have led to long wait times when ordering traditional HMIs. But don't worry: It’s easy to turn any panel PC into an Ignition HMI solution, and in this webinar we'll show you how!

Ignition is already known for its world-class HMI software, but you can also make a full HMI solution by installing Ignition Edge Panel software on a new or existing panel PC. Join us to learn about the many benefits and uses of Ignition HMI solutions, which are more helpful now than ever.

  • Discover affordable, readily available HMI solutions
  • Learn about versatile ways to use them
  • Install HMIs wherever you need them
  • See real-world applications

Webinar Transcript

Don Pearson: Good morning everyone, and welcome to our webinar “Turn Any Panel PC Into an Ignition HMI.” My name is Don Pearson with Inductive Automation. I will serve as the moderator on this webinar today. I also have with me Kent Melville. Kent is a sales engineering manager, the Sales Engineering Manager at Inductive and is the presenter today. So Kent, could you please take a minute and give a little better introduction than that to yourself?

Kent Melville: Sure, thanks, Don. I appreciate the emphasis on the Sales Engineering Manager, the one and only. But yeah, I'm Kent Melville, I have been at Inductive Automation for a little over five years. And I get to work with two teams here at Inductive Automation, our Sales Engineering team that are solutions architects to help people with their architectures, best practices, security, all that kind of stuff. And then also, I get to work with our Applications and Engineering team that gets to build cool solutions for our customers, as well as our Sales team for our online demo project, Ignition Exchange, all that kind of stuff. So, yeah, excited to be talking about HMIs today.

Don Pearson: Thanks, thanks for being with us today. And also with me today, joining us as a guest presenter is Ross Sheffler, he's a Control Systems Integrator III at Vertech, and Vertech is an Ignition Premier Integrator with offices in Arizona, California, Tennessee, and Texas. So Ross, would you mind telling us just a little more about yourself and what you do at Vertech?

Ross Sheffler: Yeah. Sure, thanks, it's great to be here. And again, yeah, my name's Ross Sheffler with Vertech. I am one of the control systems integrators of many that Vertech has, and I primarily deal in the space of doing automation in the solid waste industry, most in landfills, so that includes automated pump stations, flares, treatment plants, renewable energy plants, anything that could be in that space as well as other different applications as required. As Vertech as a whole we deal many different industries, water, wastewater and the landfill applications, do a lot in the food and beverage, and that includes everything from the process control on the PLC-based all the way up to SCADA using Ignition platforms and even getting into the MES systems where we're taking plan information and manufacturing information and integrating that with ERP systems that many of our customers use. So pretty much a one-stop shop for any automation needs that is needed in many different industries. But great to be here.

Don: Great, Ross. Thanks so much, it's great to have you today. Also, here's a little bit on the agenda for the webinar today. I'm just gonna pretty quickly tell you a little bit about our software Ignition, then we'll talk about the importance of HMIs and explain what Ignition HMIs are and how you can build them. That will lead us into talking about the Ignition Edge Panel software and the Ignition Onboard program. And we have a couple of integrator case studies with Ignition Edge Panel, and of course, we'll wrap it up with audience Q&A as we always do so. Here's a little bit of what you need to know about Ignition. It's known as a great HMI and SCADA software solution, but it's actually an unlimited platform that can do a whole lot more than that. Ignition is unique because it lets you connect, design, and deploy without limits. Ignition provides one central hub for everything on the plant floor. It lets you easily create any kind of industrial application like your HMI, MES, IIoT and more. You can instantly web-deploy plants to desktops, industrial displays, and mobile devices, and it's unlimited licensing that you have all the clients, tags, connections that you need for one affordable price.

Don: So it's got the industrial strength, of course, in the security and stability area that really the world we're in today really demands. Which is probably the reason why it's trusted by thousands and thousands of companies across the world, including 54% out of Fortune 100, and I think probably 42%, 43% now at Fortune 500. So if you wanna learn more about Ignition, you can certainly also try it free, going to inductiveautomation.com. We've done a lot of HMI webinars before, but they've really been about designing HMIs with Ignition software. Today’s webinar has a little bit of a different focus. We'll be talking about creating HMI machine solutions with Ignition software and your choice of hardware. It's an important subject because companies always need products that are flexible and affordable and effective, and it's especially important now because with disruption of the global supply chain, it's really driving a lot of us to look for new solutions. So we're gonna address that. But first, we should start by talking just a little bit about what an HMI actually is. HMI, it stands for human-machine interface, which is the user interface that really connects a person to a machine in the system or a device.

Don: When we’re talking about HMIs in industrial settings, but they're found in many other places. For example, when you use your home air conditioning system to check and control the temperature, you're using an HMI. HMIs in industrial settings are used to do a lot of things like usually display data including graphs, charts, buttons, dashboards, et cetera. Racking production time, trends and tags, overseeing KPIs, monitoring machine inputs and outputs, viewing and managing alarms, and just a whole lot more. HMI, of course, is closely related to SCADA, supervisory control and data acquisition, and they are both part of a larger industrial control system. But they each have different functionalities. The main difference is that HMIs are focused on visually conveying information to help the user’s supervised process. While SCADA systems have a greater capacity for data collection and control systems operation. Unlike SCADA systems...

Don: HMIs don't really collect and record information or connect to databases, instead, HMI provides an effective communication tool that's meant to function as part of, or alongside of your SCADA system. HMI is actually, as I said, really mainly for the operators, for the engineers and the systems integrators, and they are really essential resources for people in these roles, because it allows them to review and monitor processes, diagnose problems, and visualize data, and that makes them essential to running a plant floor. HMI historically was something that was installed on the plant floor, but today HMIs can also be on mobile or remote devices, in the cloud or at the edge of the network. An HMI is made up of hardware and software. HMI software often comes with the hardware, but HMI software can also be installed onto a computer, so that the computer can be used as an HMI. So, HMI software can be installed on any of the following hardware, built-in or embedded screens on machines, graphic terminals, panel mount displays, regular PCs, mobile devices, and wearables.

Don: A lot of industrial companies have traditionally used proprietary hardware units such as Allen-Bradley PanelViews for their HMIs. The problem is that these proprietary products are expensive and they lock you into one vendor. This has become an even larger problem lately, because disruptions in the supply chain have caused longer lead times, sometimes very long lead times, and this is making it hard to get HMIs and other industrial hardware items in a timely manner. So some companies will even have to wait until next year to get their PanelViews, and this can have a huge impact on project and project timelines and just... They're progressed forward with their own evolution. And unfortunately with issues like microchip shortages, limited warehouse space and backed-up shipping containers, these supply-chain issues are really... They're unlikely to go away or change dramatically any time in the near future. So it's something we have to deal with and still move our projects and our activities forward. So, that is kind of a little setting...

Don: Let me just give Kent and Ross a chance to talk about what's currently going on with the supply chain and how they end up experiencing delays in getting their HMI units that could affect companies. So, Kent, why don't you go first and then Ross, you can respond afterwards.

Kent: Yeah, absolutely, Don. So, it's nice being a software company, 'cause we can just give you a new license key, there's no lead time there, but you know, we're not the only part of a project, hardware is going in for all of our customers and we've seen that frustration as people have tried to get projects on specific timelines and they get held up based on the hardware. And we see it time and time again. And I think to me, what's one of the most unfortunate things is a lot of times, there's a lot of logistics that go into these projects, there's a lot of project management that comes into play here, and finally the stars all align, you get a project approved. You've got the right personnel, and then you sit and you wait for hardware, while you're waiting for that hardware, the company keeps moving. Personnel gets reassigned to other projects and things like that, and then once the hardware actually gets there, you're back to square one or trying to get the right people in play and everything all over again, and it just becomes a nightmare.

Kent: And so, yeah, certainly we've seen that, right now, these supply-chain issues are affecting project timelines, but not just for waiting for hardware, but they're gunking up the entire flow of the business and affecting projects outside of just these industrial projects as well.

Don: Thanks, Kent. Ross, how about your thoughts? You're out in the field trying to make things happen. What's your perspective on some of these challenges?

Ross: Yeah, and as Kent mentioned we're experiencing a lot of those issues where we're waiting months for a PanelView, for example, and we've had to change a lot of the strategy of... As soon as we get a project to looking over the billed material and quickly ordering everything, so that we can start adjusting our project schedule based on when we're gonna be getting these parts. Because from one project to the next, we'll order PanelView one week, and it'll be four months, and then the next week it'll... We'll get a lead time of six months. So it's really been difficult to juggle all of these different lead times for proprietary systems in. You know, with Ignition Edge Panel, if we can't get a specific touchscreen from a specific manufacturer, since Ignition Edge Panel is hardware agnostic, we can just switch out the hardware to another outfit and kinda shop around for who has the best lead time. So, definitely been seeing issues with that, it's been causing bottlenecks.

Don: Thanks, Ross. Kent, you had mentioned that clearly we are not the total answer, the Ignition platform plays a significant role in projects moving forward, but we are not everything, but part of an ecosystem. But that being said, also, when something happens like the supply-chain challenges, we certainly wanna have every possible contribution that we can make to solving that problem. And we do have a piece of software that can help solve this problem, it's called Ignition Edge Panel. So Kent, with that as an introduction, would you mind telling us about the key features of Ignition Edge Panel and how our attendees can use that to address some of these challenges?

Kent: Yeah, absolutely, Don. And I like that intro to it. You know, it's interesting now you... You try to solve one problem and the solution for that problem ends up inevitably helping with other problems, and that was the case for us with Ignition Edge. You know, people wanted a lightweight version of Ignition that was for small sites, for small projects, something that you could deploy in mass without the pricing constraints of our unlimited platform. So, we came out with Ignition Edge, and we did that a few years ago, and solved a lot of problems for people who were looking for a very cost-effective solution to deploy for these small projects. And now a new problem comes along with the supply chain and you look at Ignition Edge and you say, you know what, Edge Panel really is…

Kent: A solution for how we can reduce lead times when you're trying to deliver HMIs as Ross was alluding to. And so what is this Ignition Edge Panel? Well, it's a standalone HMI software product and you can use it to rapidly build local HMIs for field devices and industrial HMIs. If you're familiar with the Ignition platform, you know that we have two modules for visualization. We have our classic Vision Module, it's a more traditional desktop HMI-type feel. We also have our Perspective Module, which can run in a browser, also can launch as a desktop app, it can run on a mobile device. It's kind of our new flagship product, very forward thinking. With Edge Panel, you're not limited to just one or the... Or you're not limited to just a specific one. You get to pick either Vision or Perspective, which is great 'cause if you got projects where you've already been using Vision, you can continue with that. If you're looking at something new, you can put in Perspective and that can work great for you.

Kent: And also, you're not having to pay separately for a design environment, like all of our software products of the Ignition designer is included. And so this Edge Panel also gives you real-time machine status, allows you to control your processes, build and deploy a local HMI that lets you quickly see the status of your machine in real time and start and stop the process with the push of a button, gives you one-way alarm notification by email through an SMTP server, gives you basic trending with storage for up to one week data buffer. If you're normally running your clients off a central server, then Edge Panel can act as a local client fallback if the network connection is lost, meaning in the event of the failed network connection the client that's running locally could re-target from that central Ignition server and connect to your local Ignition Edge Panel without any user intervention, happens automatically for you.

Kent: At that point when it's failed over, provides you that same one week of buffer data and the local data visualization and control even though you lost your connection to your central server. OPC UA connectivity for your PLC connections. Ignition Edge comes with unlimited tags and is equipped with native drivers to connect to a variety of devices. And also if you needed to connect to things with other drivers, you can connect to third-party OPC servers like Kepware, Matrikon, things like that. It's fully cross-platform, Ignition Edge works seamlessly with Ignition on Linux, Windows, macOS and more. So you can install it on virtually any industrial device. And when we say any device, industrial device, we mean you could be running on devices from a Raspberry Pi all the way up to latest generations of edge devices. We propose a solution to the problem of ordering HMIs during a supply-chain shortage and that solution would be use Ignition as a replacement for a more traditional HMI. And so that's right, Ignition HMI is not just an Ignition client that runs separately off of a server and requires a connection to that server, a thin client so to speak, but it can also be a complete HMI solution. How? Well you need those two components, you need the Ignition... To get an Ignition HMI, you need a panel PC and you need an Ignition Edge Panel license.

Kent: And many panel PCs are available immediately, so that gets you around the supply-chain problem. And you have a few different options for how you combine these two components into an Ignition HMI. And so the first one is, you can install Edge Panel onto an existing panel PC, maybe you've already got something there locally on site. And so you can just install this, it's very lightweight, can go on that existing hardware, you've got your new HMI. Or, you can buy a panel PC or an industrial PC and install Ignition Edge Panel onto it. Or, if you were used to, "I just want to go to one company, I want them to provide everything to me and then my guys just go and they turn it on and run with it," that's what our Onboard program is for. So you can buy a Ignition Onboard panel PC that has Ignition Edge Panel pre-loaded and pre-licensed. And if you're not familiar with Ignition Onboard, I'll go into that a little bit right now. So, Ignition Onboard is a program where we at Inductive Automation have partnered with several trusted hardware partners who install and configure either Ignition or Ignition Edge onto select devices.

Kent: Our current Onboard hardware partners are Advantech, Moxa, Opto 22, OnLogic and Uticor as you can see on the screen now. The current devices offered range from cellular gateways to embedded PCs to PLCs, RTUs, IO, and panel PCs. The point of this program is to make installing and deploying a new solution as effortless as possible. And there's many benefits of buying an Onboard device, first of which is you skip the install and save time because Ignition Edge is already installed when you get the device, it's plug and play. Ignition is open interoperable, so it can work about just on every system right out of the gate. It's IIoT-ready because we can set up Edge to have MQTT to publish to whatever broker industrial structure you've got within your system and all Ignition Onboard devices go through a rigorous benchmarking process and they're all optimized by the hardware manufacturer for maximum performance with Ignition specifically and all Ignition Onboard devices are tested and validated by my team here, Inductive Automation, to ensure compatibility. So Advantech, OnLogic, and Uticor specifically sell a variety of panel PCs with Ignition Edge Panel pre-loaded and pre-licensed. And if you want to check out these devices, you can go to inductiveautomation.com/onboard and browse to find the best solution for your needs.

Kent: And each device listing includes a link of where you can go to purchase it from the manufacturer directly. And this makes it easy to find a panel PC and easy to put it to work as soon as you get it. Now, these companies are not immune to supply-chain issues either, but we did survey them before this webinar and found that their lead times were more reasonable than some of the other proprietary solutions. So definitely worth reaching out to these people, talking to them about their lead times and the nice thing is that because you're not…

Kent: With Ignition Edge HMI, you know, Ignition Edge Panel, you're not tied to a specific hardware. So if the lead time is really long for one kind of hardware, you can just shop around for a different piece of hardware that's gonna meet the same beats. Whether you buy an Onboard panel PC with Ignition Edge Panel already installed or you install it on another device, here are some advantages that you won't get from a traditional HMI. One, the software doesn't require a special piece of hardware to run. You can choose from a variety of inexpensive commodity hardware products, instead of being locked into using expensive proprietary hardware. Two, you can replace failed HMIs more quickly and affordably. If your HMI is an isolated all-in-one unit and it failed, you'd have to replace it with the same all-in-one unit, and you'd need to restore the project that was on it, but if it's decoupled, the decoupled HMI, and it fails, you can just install it on a new panel PC of any brand, install the same software, you're back in business, much simpler and more economical.

Kent: The development environment is included, so users don't need to download it separately or license it separately to be able to go in and connect to the HMI, configure it. It's just a native part of the HMI. With Ignition, every installation has a designer included, as I said before. In addition to HMI functionality, Edge Panel offers parallel functionality as data collection software, both the data conduit and data communication. So you can mix and match Ignition Edge Panel with other Ignition Edge products, which is really where it starts to become really powerful.

Kent: And so I wanted to talk a little bit about the other Edge products that we have. It's worth noting that all of these are software. And kinda like with our standard platform, you have modules, you can put whichever modules you need on one gateway and it just unlocks new functionality. Same way, these different Edge products can all be part of the same installation of Ignition on the same hardware. Just as you add each one, it unlocks new functionality.

Kent: We've been talking about this second one here, Ignition Edge Panel. Ignition Edge Panel is just a visualization. It's a stand-alone product. It doesn't really connect up to a centralized system, it doesn't forward data. So if you wanted to have Edge Panel be a data conduit to send the data up to a centralized Ignition system, you have two ways to do that, the first of which is actually this fourth one listed here, Ignition Edge Sync Services, that allows you to make a Gateway Network connection up to your central Ignition gateway, but Gateway Network is our proprietary Ignition-to-Ignition protocol, and then it will send real-time information, alarm information, and historical data all up to that centralized system. And if you lose the connection, it buffers it locally, forwards all that data to backfill your historian after the network connection is restored. So really powerful when you're in regulated industries and you can't lose data or you have to file a report or something like that every time you lose data. Having that backfill becomes really powerful.

Kent: But say it's not Ignition centrally that you're trying to publish data to, you wanna publish data in an open source way, that's what this first one, Ignition Edge IIoT is for. It takes that data and publishes it up via MQTT. That could be to a centralized Ignition system or just to a broker, which then any other business application that supports MQTT can subscribe to, so now you're decoupling your infrastructure from your applications. It becomes this really powerful data method there. And also with Edge IIoT, that allows third-party systems to connect to Ignition Edge IIoT as an OPC server. So if you need external systems to connect as an OPC client to Ignition's OPC server, Edge IIoT allows you to do that.

Kent: Edge Compute gives you scripting capabilities at the edge. So already with Edge Panel, you could have scripts run on screen, and so when a user clicks a button or does something on screen, that can fire Python scripts inside Ignition, but if you needed a tag change script or a timer script or a scheduled script, something like that, that's what this Edge Compute product is for.

Kent: And then lastly, this is actually one of my favorite versions of Edge, is Ignition Edge EAM. And this is saying, "Alright, this is cool. I now am choosing Ignition Edge Panel to be my HMI of choice, and I deploy 100 of these throughout a facility or even across a wide area network," and you say, "How do I manage those? I wanna go apply license keys to all of these. I wanna go and do updates on all these. I wanna monitor the health of these. I wanna develop something centrally, and I wanna push out changes to all of them all at once. How do I do that?" Well, that's what this Edge EAM does. You install EAM on a central Ignition server, and you have those Gateway Network connections out to all of your Edge Panels, and then via the EAM module, you can define these tasks to do all those things I mentioned. You can push out licenses, you can remotely take backups, you can push out upgrades, you can push out updates to projects, you can move tags, all that kind of stuff.

Kent: And so this is really a differentiating feature of Ignition as your HMI solution, because you have that centralized management that's all done really easily. And so say you have a panel that goes down, you need to replace it, you got whatever hardware you have available, you have Ignition installed there, and then you just connect it up to that Ignition Edge EAM centrally, and via EAM, it already has the backups that it's been taking. It can take the right backup and go and restore it to that one all centrally. So what your guys on the floor had to do is they just had to go take it, plug it in, make sure it's connected, and then your central EAM does all the rest. So really powerful there.

Don: Before you go on, usually, I wait to the end, but there's a couple of three questions I think might be appropriate for you to just answer now, and I think you were kind of answering that, but you might wanna expand on it. So here's a couple I'll ask you. First is, is there a limit to the number of screens on the Edge?

Kent: Great question. There is not, you can have as many screens as you want. Now, with that being said, how many users can view this at a time? Edge gets two users logged in at a time. You can have as many users defined on Edge as you want. But two clients running, one, is generally locally on that panel, but it also supports one remote client as well over the network. But once you launch a project, you can have as many clients within that project or screens within that project as you want.

Don: Sounds good. And next there's a question I think you may have covered earlier. But, do you have a trial version to see if it would work prior to purchasing the license?

Kent: Yep, if you go onto our website, we have a download button in the top right, and you can just click on that. And you'll see downloads for our standard Ignition, and also for Ignition Edge. And it runs in a two-hour trial, same as our standard Ignition platform. And that two hours can be reset as many times as you want as you test out Ignition. If you need to do a longer test, always reach out to our Sales team, and they can help you get a longer trial if needed.

Don: That sounds great. So I think you've covered a couple of these, but the last question I will interject here is out of curiosity. Do PanelViews offer any advantages over Ignition for specific scenarios?

Kent: So, PanelViews, we don't really talk about our competitors that much. So it's a loaded question. But PanelViews have been in the HMI industry for a long time. And sometimes they come with some preset templates and things like that that people are used to. And so as you look at Ignition Edge Panel it's more like standard Ignition, where you get this blank slate that you get to build whatever you want using our free designer. And I think it's been pretty cool to see what the Ignition community has done with coming together on the Ignition Exchange to build some templates that people can just use out of the box. We've got Factory Packs on there, which is pretty cool. We've got some Siemens-specific templates, and we've got a whole variety of other templates that different integrators and end users within our Ignition community have created and just shared freely with everybody. And so I guess that's, that's one differentiator, is these PanelViews, they come with some templates and things out of the box. Ignition is more just... It's really easy to build it, go build whatever you want. But I think that certainly Ignition, the Ignition Exchange is a cool place to go see what people have been doing.

Don: Yeah, thanks. I'll save the rest of the questions for the end. But I just wanted to throw those things that I think were appropriate but you were talking about here, so you can go ahead and move on. Thanks.

Kent: Perfect. Yeah. And I saw that one person asked a question about... Well, I lost it now. You guys have lots of good questions. Somebody had asked specifically about licensing for EAM. How does that work? You do purchase the EAM Module for your central Ignition gateway. And then you purchase Edge EAM for each HMI. But this Edge EAM is much cheaper than buying the EAM Module for a central gateway. In fact, I think it's only a $100 addition to this. So yes, you do need a license everywhere. But for Edge, it's obviously discounted. Moving on here, we can talk about this all day, but we wouldn't be doing justice to Ignition Edge Panel if we didn't show you how some leading companies are using it in the real world. So we've got two very impressive projects from two of our Ignition Premier Integrators, Vertech and Brock Solutions, that we wanna show off today. The first of which is we have Ross here from Vertech. Ross, can you tell us a little bit about the project that you've been working on?

Ross: Sure. Yeah. Thanks, Kent. As I mentioned, while I introduced myself, I do a lot of work in the solid waste industry. And that's one of the customers that we're going to be showing off one of their projects today. So our specific customer, they're a world leader in the solid waste industry, and they are continually investing into their automation infrastructure. And currently, they're using Ignition for their enterprise application, which gives their entire organization visibility into all of their sites across the country.

Ross: But there is the requirement that they have local command and control that is independent of the enterprise solution. And that is where Ignition Edge Panel has come into play and has helped out with that. Vertech has deployed two projects with the Edge Panel where this customer has given them the additional flexibility that they require. Both of these projects collect data from multiple assets, such as pump stations, flares, tank farms, treatment plants, and even renewable energy plants that each site might have. Basically, we try to connect it to any IoT device that's in the automation space at each site. So in addition to displaying and controlling assets on the site with Ignition Panel Edge, we're also using it to collect and send data to the enterprise system using that Ignition Edge Sync Module that can be purchased and added on. And that helps with giving visibility to the entire organization.

Ross: With their particular applications, their sites are located all over the country, and in many cases in very remote locations. And with some of those locations, trying to get communications or even Internet access is a challenge. And many of these sites run off of a cellular connection, whether that's with Verizon, AT&T, or T-Mobile. And just inherently with all these different types of technology, if you're relying on one of those ISP carriers, communication outages can occur, and you'll become disconnected with that enterprise system. And with Ignition Edge, we have the ability to keep the local site operational during those outages and not affect daily operations, but then also the data buffering is key.

Ross: So as soon as comms is lost, Ignition Edge will buffer all of that data during that outage. And as soon as communications is restored, it starts pushing that data up to the enterprise system. Our historian is backfilled, we don't lose data in our reports, and all of the trending functionality works at the enterprise level. So that is just one thing that's inherently awesome with Ignition Edge Panel. The other advantage that we've seen with using Edge Panel when we have to have local control and we don't wanna deploy an entire Ignition's full-blown Ignition Gateway, is we can reuse many of the same views that were developed for the enterprise system.

Ross: Since it's all the same platform, it's just a simple import. And it's not even just limited to views, we can also reuse all of our tags, alarm configurations, and even all the custom scripts that are used in both of those systems to make a great visualization platform. And in turn, this has streamlined our development process and it also enabled Vertech to create a common user interface between the enterprise Ignition system and the local Panel Edge project. So when we're doing training with operations, we're training them on a common user interface so we don't have to train them on two separate systems, and it just makes the system more cohesive.

Ross: Next, we'll go ahead and take a look at some of the applications that we developed. So this is a screenshot of one of our applications that we developed at Ignition Edge Panel. This was all developed using the Perspective Module when we went and deployed the project. And as you can see, their customer likes to see a high-level overview of the site so we take a satellite image and we start placing asset flags all over the place where the assets actually are physically located on the site, and we're able to give users the ability to see what's happening and what sites are having problems, what sites are running okay. And this is for everything from a pump station to a flare, tank farm and even those large treatment plant facilities that I had explained earlier. And using the Perspective and Ignition Edge Panel, you get the same functionality that you get with a full-blown Ignition gateway so all of these style classes that we use, all the scripts to make flags turn different colors and being able to adjust those custom properties, it's enabled us to create a sleek user interface for the customer and keep that common UI across the enterprise and the local system itself.

Ross: So imagine if you're working with this and you can click on one of these assets, we have it selected that you can go and click any of that. And that's one other thing I want to mention too is when we developed this application, it was developed to be used through a web interface where you're using a mouse pointer and you're doing it through a web browser on your computer but whenever we changed it over to Ignition Edge Panel, the touch screen functionality came with it... So a click inherently turned into touching the overview button on the screen or touching one of these flags and there was very minimal development that we had to do to convert our SCADA projects into a touchscreen application, which also streamlined the development time on this project. So here's another example of a detailed view and, again, this is pulled directly in from our enterprise system with just some minor massaging to get it to work with the Ignition Edge Panel. We had it organized into different cards so we have a data card showing our pump statuses, all of the different process variables that are associated with it such as level, flow, pressures, and the alarm indications, which you can see we have some alarm at this particular site.

Ross: They bring some operative awareness of the site and they know that they have to go take a look at that 'cause there might be a problem, maybe there's some maintenance that needs to be done with that specific device. And the other thing that really makes Ignition Edge Panel shine compared to other touchscreens is the data historian. So we can store unlimited number of data points over a seven-day period, get the granularity that we need out of each data point and every single asset 'cause you can imagine on the landfill, as I showed from that bigger screen, there are close to 20 different pumps stations that were being monitored by this control system and each pump station has, let's say, 10 tags that we're historizing and in many touchscreens, you're limited by how many points of history that you store before they run out of space and they start deleting the old data. And with that, if you have a large amount of data that you're trying to store, large amount of tags, you just simply won't get the time frame that you need. You won't get that seven-day query of trim data from your historian. So it's really enabled us to give local operations some granularity to their data over that seven-day period and not have the constraints of historical data limits.

Kent: And just like full-blown Ignition, you get all of the full functionality with the Time Series Charts, the Power Charts, which has allowed us to provide those high-performance graphics that our customers kind of expect from us. So let's take a look at some process flow screens 'cause there's definitely times when you need to have that traditional look and feel of, "Here's our process flow. Here is our P&ID screen." And with Ignition, we're able to do all of that. We can draw the lines and create custom symbols, even using the building symbols that Ignition offers to show blower statuses, to show valves. And then even create custom objects to show different analog values and then being able to repeat those views and use multiple instances of them across one view so that we're using one single object just passing some parameters down. We're not having to go back and recreate every single one of these objects individually. That's a huge advantage because there's many touch screens where for this PT100 and PT101, you'd have to create separate objects for each one of them just because of the limitations of the proprietary software.

Ross: So it really can hinder our development because if we make one mistake and we had already copied and pasted all those objects across the screen, well, now we have to go back and make that fix across all the objects, and with that comes some lack of consistency and then misses whenever you're trying to debug your program. So a lot of the advantages to using an Ignition Edge Panel is this gives you that full functionality. And just like many other touchscreens, we've also had the ability where you can click in any one of devices, a faceplate will pop up, show your device health, give the operator the ability to change alarm set points and even configure the devices. And sky's the limit with what you can do with it.

Ross: And in addition to traditional touchscreen kind of applications, you can also create some custom dashboards and you might be limited on what you can actually analyze. But there's still some really cool things that you can do with the customization of writing your own scripts. So, in this case, with Edge Panel, we've given the site the ability to view their entire tank farm and have all of the trend data here over the last seven days. So they can see how fast their tanks are filling up, whether or not they need to schedule trucks that come in and get rid of their... Offload their lead straight to go be treated. And we even give volumes of each one of the tanks. So this helps operations to make decisions locally at the site, out the enterprise system, and keep them efficient. And one other thing that... And I don't know of any other touchscreen that’s really doing this that much is the fact that you get the ability to make dynamic screens. So in this case, I'm showing four tanks on this particular view. But if I needed to add a fifth tank or even a sixth tank with the scripting capability, and the way that Ignition structures are tags, and using the Flex Repeater, I can just add an additional tank tag, and then this screen will dynamically add an additional tank card to the view without me having to go and do any development, which is a great feature and eliminates again, the development costs with developing a screen like this and then making it more dynamic.

Ross: And the last feature that I wanna show, and this was brought up, is the fact that you get that one additional session with the two years is being able to log in one locally at the site, and then one that is using a remote session. But what we've given is we've taken a step forward and said, "Hey, you should have mobile functionality." So since this is a landfill, and you have your touchscreen, maybe at the main office, but the pump station is out in the field, well, we develop the views using the same project to work on a mobile phone. And we've refactored some of our views so that it fits on an iPhone, it fits on an iPad or... Hey, if they go out with their laptop, well, then they get the full functionality that they would on the touchscreen that's at their main office. And as you can see, we just refactor some of these overview screens so that we get them in a column format for visualization purposes on the phone, they can get whether a pump's running, what the levels are at each of the sites, and then they can even click into the each individual station and get full detailed information about how their station is performing. And even take control of the pump station while they're sitting there physically at the pump station itself.

Ross: And even with the mobile view, we're still giving the full functionality of all of the trans screens and getting that long-term data history, that seven-day history in the palm of their hands without having to connect to the enterprise system. And all of this, again, was pulled directly from our enterprise. And we were able to reuse it in our Edge Panel with very minimal changes needed to be made on the views. So a very powerful platform. And that's all I have. So Kent, I'll turn it back over to you.

Kent: Perfect. Thanks, Ross. And one note that I wanna make sure people get all the right information. Technically, Ignition Edge has a seven-day buffer. And Ross said there's no limit there. Technically, there is a limit to how much data you can store to that database. We used to have it match what other HMI systems have, which is a million rows, is a pretty common metric that people have. And the feedback we got from our customers was that's not enough. That's limiting. We don't want that. And so we said we could double it, we could triple it, we can do it by five. But we don't want this to be a problem again. So we said 10 times, so you can do 10 million rows, and it hasn't really been a problem anymore. So it's effectively unlimited because we just decided to go much, much bigger than what people are running into. But there is technically a limit. It is 10 million rows. But Ross it's good to hear that, yeah, it feels unlimited as you're using it.

Ross: It does. It does.

Kent: Yeah, thanks, Ross. And thank you Vertech for being here and talking about your project. Another Premier Integrator we have is Brock Solutions. They, unfortunately, weren't able to make it today. But I did wanna just hit a couple points here on a case study they have in Upstate New York. But first, Brock Solutions is leading a multi-year program to uplift a water SCADA system. And they don't just work in water, wastewater they also do work in manufacturing construction materials, food and beverage, water, wastewater, and as well as other industries and have locations in the US and Canada. For this project, they're using Ignition SCADA to deliver a sustainable modern solution and addressing critical obsolescence and cybersecurity concerns as well as upgrading PLC hardware drives and implementing new sensing hardware as well as extensively leveraging Ignition Edge's computing capabilities. And so 45 of the sites utilize Ignition Edge Panel, these remote sites or pump stations chlorination, monitoring and injection, and tanks or reservoirs, all these found at the edge-of-network and communicate back to essentially a server via MQTT.

Kent: These seven Edge Panels are being used for device control for viewing operator alarms. And these sites are critical. So they need to have local control if the network to the central gateway fails. And then also, this has really been able to balloon out because it's more cost-efficient than having full-blown Ignition at each site. And then so Brock was able to grab panel PCs off the shelf from Advantech, is what they're using, and they were able to deploy these 45 Edge Panels really easily and very cost-effective. So, you can see that Ignition Edge Panel is critical to the success of this project for them in Upstate New York. To make sure we get to everybody's questions, Don, we'll turn it back over to you.

Don: Kent, thank you very much for sharing that project information. Ross, thanks for sharing, we really appreciate how we're digging in and letting people see what they can do with it. Also, there are quite a few questions. So I just wanna say a couple of things to wrap up and really invite you to consider Ignition HMIs as a practical and affordable solution for sourcing your HMIs during this time of supply-chain disruption, as well as off into the future when you find that work as you can see today. You can try and download Ignition Edge at inductiveautomation.com That was only mentioned by Kent. You can browse Ignition Onboard panel PCs with Ignition Edge Panel pre-loaded, pre-licensed at inductiveautomation.com/onboard. Just to wrap up though, for Kent and Ross, can you wrap up by sharing maybe a few thoughts about how Ignition can help companies deal with supply-chain problems or are there current challenges? Ross, I think I'll ask you first and then have you wrap up, Kent. Ross?

Ross: Yeah. Specifically from the supply-chain issues, the fact that Ignition Edge Panels hardware agnostic means that you can shop around. And so basically, as it was mentioned on the call, whoever... You know, as long as it's a computer and is compatible with the software, you can just mix and match and get any kind of hardware that's available, and that's becoming the name of the game right now. I don't see the supply-chain issue resolving here any time soon, so the fact that this is available to us is, I think, really gonna help keep future projects and our current projects on schedule and moving forward.

Don: Kent?

Kent: Yeah, and I was talking with Ross about this earlier this week, and one thing he mentioned that I really liked was the fact about that for some projects, people are getting desperate with these supply-chain issues. They're going to eBay and they're paying more for used products than the retail cost of a brand new piece of equipment, and yeah, it's just crazy out there right now, and so having this flexibility is a big deal.

Kent: I think this kinda speaks to one of the mission statements that we have here at Inductive Automation, which is, we're trying to get rid of all these economic obstacles and technological obstacles that people have for their projects. And a big way that we've done that is, we want to allow people to not be tied into proprietary solutions. That's why we support things like MQTT, OPC. There's all these software pieces where we want to support interoperability and openness, and so it just makes sense on the hardware side that we'd feel the same way. Rather than delivering an HMI product that is hardware, that we sell directly, that you can only get from us and you live or die based on our availability, we say, "No." We're all about being open, providing solutions that are flexible. You go get your hardware, you put it in place, and it can be whatever hardware you want.

Kent: And yeah, so we're just trying to be true to ourselves. And we felt like the Onboard program was a good way for us to still give people an all-in-one solution if they want, so certainly, you can leverage those Onboard partners to have one person provide you a touch panel that's already got everything installed, everything ready to go. If that's the way you like to operate, that's great. Go with those Onboard partners. If you're the kind of person who likes to go and shop around, find your best price for the hardware that's gonna work best for you, you can do that as well. And so lots of flexibility, but yeah, just... It's been fun to see with that additional flexibility, what different people have been able to do with their projects, like the two projects we showed you today.

Don: Thanks, Kent. Thanks very much. I just wanna mention a couple of things before we get to Q&A. And Kent, you can glance, you and Ross, over the questions too. I noted a few that we'll get to with the time we have left. But as I did say, you can download Ignition Edge from our website, and you can also download the latest full version of Ignition, which is 8.1. Only takes about three minutes. And you can use it in trial mode for as long as you want absolutely free. Additionally, some people said, "Is there a training, a long runway to understand?" Once you download Ignition, we got a free online training website, IU, Inductive University, and you can learn all about Ignition there. Hundreds of free training videos. You can learn Ignition step by step and do it at your own pace. So we also have a very comprehensive online user manual, which, of course, you can refer to at any time.

Don: I wanna mention this, because the two projects that you looked at are kinds of projects you'll see in our yearly Discover Gallery, earlier this month, we announced that this year's Ignition Community Conference will be held in-person, September 20th through the 21st, and virtually October 3rd through the 5th. And the Discover Gallery will be part of both versions of ICC, featuring really exceptional projects from the worldwide Ignition community. Submissions are due by Saturday, April 30th. That means there's only two more days to submit your latest and greatest Ignition project. So act now, and you can become part of that really exciting Discover Gallery.

Don: Additionally, at least I wanna mention for those of you outside of North America, let you know that we have a network of international Ignition distributors. They provide business development opportunities, sales, technical support in your language, in your time zone. So learn about the distributor program for your region, go to our website, contact our International Distribution Manager Annie Wise.

Don: If you wanna speak with one of our account executives at headquarters or schedule a demo, you've got the number here on the screen, and you can do that and we will follow up and get to all your questions.

Don: Let me just start with this one. "If a panel PC fails and takes the license with it, how does that work when the maintenance guy replaces the panel at 12 AM in the middle of the night?" Can you respond to that, Kent?

Kent: Yep. The licenses, if you go and you apply the same license key to the new one when you replace it, then it's gonna go into what's called our emergency activation mode, and with that emergency activation mode you get seven days to reach out to one of the people whose pictures are on the screen right now, and they can transfer that license for you to take it out of that emergency activation mode. So if it's the middle of the night on a weekend, it doesn't matter, you can just use that same license key and you'll have seven days of runtime before you have any issues.

Don: Thanks, Kent. "What is the latency when displaying PLC tags?"

Kent: Yeah, that is gonna depend on your network. So there's panels intended that it can be placed right there next to your PLCs. And so latency can be really low, it can be directly connected, or it can still go through the network how we have it set up. But latency is gonna vary based on those connections to... It may just be a couple of milliseconds, it may be a few dozen milliseconds, it all depends on your network there, but especially if you have a PLC connected right there latency is very, very minimal.

Don: Cool. And this is a question from a gentleman. One of our attendees from Sri Lanka says, "I wanna know what hardware we can install Ignition Edge to and I wanna know vendor names. I know you mentioned the Onboard vendor names. And I know we said it's open and operable, and you make your choice. But can you mention a couple or maybe can Ross mention a couple that may be used by them in projects?

Kent: I could. Ross, you wanna go first?

Ross: Yeah, since you can pretty much run it on any computer as long as it has Windows or Linux, you can run it. We've used a lot of OnLogic for most of our projects.

Don: Cool.

Kent: Yeah. And we also see people leveraging some Dell products, we see people running Maple systems, we see people running, Intel has some things that they put out, I don't know if they actually make them but they are there in the Intel name. Yeah, there's a whole variety of hardware out there but really, because Ignition runs on Windows or Linux, the fact that it runs on Linux really opens the door to a huge number of devices out there. And there are some industrial Raspberry Pis that we've seen running production, which always scares me a little bit 'cause I have played with Raspberry Pis in my house. And I wouldn’t put them on a plant floor, but there's industrial versions that people are using, with a lot of success. So yeah, could be anything.

Don: Thanks. So let's give Shannon a chance for her question. She says if we have full Windows panel PCs as local ITs why wouldn't we run full Ignition instead of Edge? I know you guys gave use cases. So why wouldn't you run full Ignition instead of Edge?

Kent: Yeah, I think that there's a good fundamental thing here. So if you've got central Ignition, and you're running it at a plant, and it's unlimited, so I can have unlimited clients. And so why not just run 100 different HMI clients off of that gateway? Why buy Edge Panel? Well, a lot of people do that. And that's fine. And we've talked about that as HMIs for a long time. But a lot of people have also come to us and said, "Well, what if some forklift is going crazy inside our facility, they hit a bunch of wires, they hit a router or something. And we lose network connectivity to our IT room to our data center, or whatever it is, what happens to all my clients? Well, if they can't talk to the central server they do nothing. And so you lose that visibility, you lose that control. So people have wanted HMIs that run independently, standalone, they don't require a connection to that central server so that they can continue collecting data, and they can continue to provide the local control. And so this is a great solution where I don't have to reinvent the wheel. 'Cause another question that Shannon actually also asked was, if your goal is to have a single IDE to develop all of your HMI and SCADA needs and all IT needs, is this a good option? Yes, 'cause you can develop the same screen centrally, and also deploy Edge.

Kent: You just export those screens, you import them onto Edge, you've got them now in both places, you only have to develop it once. And you have that benefit that if you lose the connectivity to the central gateway, you can still operate locally. And now you have a really robust system. And so that's what we're talking about today, we're talking about Ignition Edge, how we can solve those needs for edge-of-network. So that you don't need that connection to the central server. But that's not necessarily for everybody. And so some people may continue to use Ignition as they have, which is just a central server, and the remote... All their clients are remotely connected to that, and that can work for them.

Don: Kent. Thank you very much. Ross, thank you very much also, I totally appreciate everyone's time and attention today. With that we're concluded. Have a great rest of your day.

Posted on April 18, 2022