From music, social networking and yes, making calls, the iPhone and its stablemates have evolved and are finding their way onto the plant floor.
Applications exist to access and monitor tag variables as well as the memory of PLCs via the iPhone. The so-called iDevices allow any plant engineer to know the state of their industrial processes and for PLC programmers to have instant access to their systems.
Following is a round-up of five of the best SCADA and automation apps available for download in the iTunes store.
SweetWilliam, S.L., based in Catalonia, creates various versions of ScadaMobile besides the regular, full-featured version, including ScadaMobile Lite and ScadaMobile ONE.
ScadaMobile is suited for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. It is a simple HMI/SCADA application for supervising variables and memory of Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) and Remote Terminal Units (RTUs).
This app is suited for plant engineers, PLC software developers, maintenance people, and anyone dealing with PLC based systems. It is compatible with major US and Japanese PLC brands and can be used as a wireless local or remote HMI.
Additionally, it supports Omron PLCs, Modbus/TCP and Ethernet/ IP protocols. ScadaMobile is highly configurable, and OEMs can offer it as an extension to their systems.
It supports simultaneous connections to a number of remote PLCs and RTUs, and includes automation features which make it easy to organise large numbers of tags.
To connect to PLCs, ScadaMobile uses direct TCP/ IP links between the iOS devices and the PLCs. Users enter the IP address of the PLC to establish a connection. Passwords, encryption and tunnelling options contribute to the security of the app.
An evaluation version of ScadaMobile, called ScadaMobile Lite, is available at a low price. It is limited to a maximum of 4 process variables and does not support alarms. A free exploratory version, ScadaMobile ONE, allows users to explore the main features of the regular ScadaMobile app through several preloaded examples.
It is limited to one PLC tag, but has no limit on the number of internal tags. It can be used to create and test projects by using local tags that can be later upgraded to real PLC tags on the regular version.
The free app can also be used to test Communications with the target PLC or RTU, to ensure compatibility with the regular version.
Cost: Full version - US$74.99 / Lite - US$2.99 / ONE - Free
ProSoft i-View is developed by ProSoft technology. It is a mobile SCADA and HMI application that allows for remote monitoring and control of process values within an EtherNet/IP and/or Modbus TCP/IP network, utilising wireless 802.11 (WiFi) and/or cellular network connections.
The app is suited for iPhone, iPod Touch and the iPad version was released in September 2010. Like the other SCADA apps out there, it provides a HMI for accessing and monitoring the variables and memory of PLCs.
By using the iOS platform, plant engineers, PAC/PLC software developers and maintenance personnel can monitor and control their systems live from anywhere, flow measurements, valve control, process data and status data.
ProSoft i-View allows simultaneous connections to a number of remote PAC/PLCs or RTUs, and its files can be accessed via various web browsers.
According to the developer, the highly optimised engine for PAC/PLC communications allows tens of thousands of variables with a minimum of network traffic. Various password-protected access levels prevent accidental modification of variables, and protect sensitive data.
ProSoft i-View wirelessly connects directly to the PLC without routing through servers or personal computers. The WiFi function of the phone can be utilised in conjunction with ProSoft Technology 802.11 Industrial Hotspot solutions.
Cost: Full version - US$149.99
iCEM is an iPhone/ iPod Touch/ iPad client for the Wonderware Corporate Energy Management (CEM) Application. The app is dependent on the iCEMServer Archestra Object, which needs to run on a server hosting the Wonderware CEM application.
By installing iCEM on the iOS device, users can monitor industrial system consumption, consult energy trends, and view alarms and active events anywhere in the world, effectively bringing the functionality of the PC-based Wonderware CEM application on the road.
The current version of iCEM is for distributors and clients. It connects to Wonderware's server so users can see what the software can do. Users need to contact the developer for an account on the server.
Cost: Evaluation stage - Free
OZLB's iPLC RW allows users to establish IP communication with PLCs via Modbus or Siemens TCP communications protocols, through a local wireless network.
The app allows several links with different PLCs and for each link define points of different data types such as Boolean, byte, word, integer, and floating point, and read actual values.
It is suited for both the iPhone and the iPad.
Cost: Full version - US$1.99
Developed by SPEL, mySCADA is a full-featured SCADA application with an advanced HMI. It is suited for plant managers and operators, supervisors, software engineers, and maintenance staff. It has declared compatibility with iPads only.
The app directly communicates with the PLCs and/ or PACs and displays the process data graphically. It can be used to control, monitor and display technological processes, infrastructure, industrial systems and facilities.
mySCADA features basic trending to monitor online tags in an organised XY time-chart, online alarms for monitoring critical states, and there are options for priority and text filtering in the alarm window.
mySCADA is designed to communicate with Rockwell Automation devices using the EtherNet/ IP protocol, and also the Modbus TCP RTU protocol, so mySCADA can control devices made by companies such as Schneider, Siemens, Advantech and Beckhoff.
The user can develop advanced applications with a complimentary mySCADA Project Editor.
Cost: Full version - US$599.99
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