Remote monitoring and control of plant, machinery and systems has become a viable and affordable option for mainstream control engineering, following the launch of a distributed micro controller with web, email and conventional industrial communications capabilities.
The EH-WD10DR web controller stands to transform the face of manufacturing and processing plants. It will be equally revolutionary in a many other sectors, such as stores, distribution and logistic automation, facilities management, security and home automation; utilities, remote and unmanned pumping stations, marine engineering and mobile applications.
The controller is being launched into the UK by Silverteam, Hitachi’s Drives and Automation Company for the UK. It is the first palm sized controller with an embedded server that provides web browsing and email facilities.
On-board HTTPD (hyper text transfer protocol Daemon ) and special CGI (common gateway interface) mean that automatic data read/write on the web controller can be performed by a standard browser hosted by a networked PC. The web controller also has SMPT (simple mail transfer protocol) capabilities with the power to automatically send up to 16 different emails to eight different addresses. Emails can be sent to mobile phones or PDAs (personal digital assistants).
With both RS 232 and Ethernet connectivity plus intelligent I/O capabilities, the micro controller can function as a gateway module within a control network, to engage with PLCs, HMIs PC and other field devices. Full SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) functionality or other high level control is also available through the EH-WD10DR.
At the heart of the EH-WD10DR is 32-bit RISC processor running a stored program cyclic system. Its 3k step FLASH memory provides a data memory capacity of over 16,000 points. Programming is via standard Hitachi programming software for Windows.
The EH-WD10DR is compatible with Hitachi all H and EH series PLCs, plus many other control system devices and has an auto-detection capability which matches communication speed with the device to which it is connected. Its packaging is robust so the unit can withstand the rigors of industrial environments, and being solid state has a life expectancy of many years.
Silverteam says that the new micro controller opens up the possibility of supervising all manner of control systems through the web. As it is a gateway there is effectively no restriction on the number or type of I/O. Managing Director Stuart Harvey says: “Factory automation technology periodically undergoes a step change, usually when a technology reaches a price point such that it become universally available.
“The uptake of web control of production machinery and industrial systems has to date been restricted to special cases where costs could be justified and special requirements were met. The EH-WD10DR breaks down this barrier, so that web control becomes a possibility for many new fields of applications.”
Silverteam will also be introducing the technology to non-industrial areas. For instance, vending machines, high performance office printers and other machinery that needs regular refilling/servicing will in future be able to automatically text travelling field engineers when their stocks are running low or otherwise need attention. Researchers will be able to set up automatic monitoring of their experiments. Secure locations could effectively have a robot watchman: sensors would detect intruders and activate the EH-WD10DR to operate cameras and inform a central control officer via an email or text message. In retail the controller can use its bi-directional monitoring capabilities to monitor stock levels plus the status of point of sale equipment, refrigerators, etc and forward information to both head office and local managers.
“We think we have found an effective solution to the massive problem of theft of yachts from their moorings,” enthuses Harvey. “A little EH-WD10DR could be secreted into some dark corner of the craft and alert both owner and coastguard if there is unexpected entry, engine start etc. It would also set a GPS tracker going and conceivably could cut the engines and electrical power supply after say 30 minutes.”
Tel: 01493 669879
Fax: 01493 669647
Contact: Stuart Harvey