Time to embrace a key element that distinguishes you as a machine builder
A machine must, of course, do what it was bought for. Ready and clear. But where a small HMI with a few buttons used to be sufficient for operation, expectations are now much higher. End users are looking for the same experience as they have with their smartphones.
This has made visualisation an important element to distinguish yourself as a machine builder on the market. “With the new tools that Lenze is bringing to the market, you don't need to be a web developer or designer,” says the company. “The ready-to-use controls and templates allow you to quickly create your own style.”
New focus on design as well
Intuitive guidance, mobile access to applications, multi-touch functionality ... this is what operators expect from machines today. "An evolution that is mainly driven by the consumer market, because the machines still have the same functionalities,” explains global head of system engineering Jurgen Rijkers. “The only thing is that you get more possibilities in visualisation to meet those expectations. In addition to the focus on functionality, there is now a focus on design.
“But visualisation still offers advantages. Visualisation is, in fact, the access point to the machine. The better you get it right, the faster the operator will use it and any faults will be identified or prevented. So, visualisation does contribute to better machine availability. In addition, it has become an integral part of the corporate identity, a way to distinguish yourself in the market. You can safely call it the business card of a machine."
Web technology for ease of use
But what does a modern visualisation have to be able to do? Product manager Automation Systems Jannis Pille: "These trends also connect seamlessly to the consumer market: a responsive design, finger control, swiping ... it's all about the ease of use that you know from consumer devices like your smartphone." To realise these possibilities, while ensuring that the choices machine builders make are also future-proof, Lenze resolutely opts for web technology. With FAST UI Runtime on the Lenze controller C520 or C550, users get the necessary working power, it states, to manage not only the PLC control, but also the communication of visualisation data without problems.
"The big advantage of web technology is that you only need a browser. You don't have to develop your own app; you can just access it via any medium. That is a big plus for fault diagnosis, for example. You can take the tablet to the other side of the machine to see what is going on. Visualisation is also easier with web technology with the Lenze tool, because the web developer is not required. Above all, the tool is easy to use for the user. The fact that this is also in line with what is happening in the consumer market assures users of the necessary innovations. Because there's a lot happening in this world at the moment."
Visualisation designed like this
Also, at the R&D team at Lenze, it has launched the EASY UI Designer, an application for Windows computers with ready-to-use controls and templates for complete pages. New technology for a new era, summarises Pille. "What makes this application so special is that a machine builder does not need a specially trained web developer to deliver a spick-and-span visualisation. They can simply make their own interpretation of the templates that our designers have developed. All they have to do is parameterise and configure.
“Even with standard templates, contemporary, personalised and user-friendly visualisation solutions can be delivered. But also more advanced users can use it to raise the bar even higher. Lenze helps machine builders in this way to offer more distinctive character and at the same time to shorten the time to market.
"The first impressions are already very positive,” Rijkers concludes. “The users who are already working with it welcome the flexibility of the web technology, and are convinced by our style and templates. Even more templates and functionalities are on the list this year, so that we can support our customers in making better machines."
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