Beijer Electronics says ‘Step into the future’ with iX
05 May 2009
The Swedish company announced at Hannover Messe the launch of its new HMI software solution, called iX. The company says it is ‘easy-to-use, comprehensive, and flexible.’ Anders Nilsson Schening (photo), Head of Products & Marketing explains, ‘iX is our most ambitious R&D project ever, with the possibilities offered by iX significantly expanding the boundaries of what an HMI can do for applications and users.’
Anders Nilsson Schening
Millions of euros have been spent already in the development of iX, he says, and the product is just at its first step.
The iX product is available in a number of options as a bundled hardware/software system or as software only. It focuses on HMI solely, and does not include SCADA applications.
Built on top of Microsoft’s .Net framework, Mr. Schening says it gives users ‘the innovative openness to create and operate applications with the same access to functionality as if you had programmed it yourself. iX offers infinite creative possibilities for customisation and the freedom to create your own objects.’
It’s the iPhone of the HMI world, he says. The logo iX stands for Information Exchange.
The product is basically an open HMI toolbox based on .Net. Engineers familiar with Microsoft .Net programming will feel ‘right at home’ with iX, he says, as it makes extensive use of Windows standard components. Engineers can create their own .Net control and import it into the software or acquire any third party components they need and utilise them in the application. The component-based platform is relatively easy to update.
One new possibility opened up with this approach is that service material could be accessed directly via the HMI. Windows Media Player, for example, is a possibility: it allows service material to be accessed and expands the visual potential of instructional documents. In addition, PDF files can be accessed directly via the HMI operator panel. And, the HMI can access—and be accessed—via the Internet.
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Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) gives the product vector-based graphics that enable ‘excellent control, design and development of user-interfaces.’
‘You’ll enjoy crisp, clear images whatever the magnification,’ says Mr. Schening, so users will be able to zoom in as much as they want to view a graphic.
iX also supports the Microsoft standard Ribbons, which is a form of toolbar combined with a tab bar that Microsoft began using with its Vista operating system and Office 2007. The idea is to ‘free users from the confusion of all those multiple levels of text menus and toolbars and letting them locate all the right commands in one easily recognisable place.’
Beijer already supplies more than 100 drivers in the package that engineers can use, or they can add their own or select third-party drivers via a connection to an external OPC server. The system also supports the SQL standard for data storage.
Engineers can also use pre-defined script or choose their own script. The iX product uses Microsoft’s object-oriented programming language for writing applications. The script module affords easy changes to scripts, with each change standardised and inserted throughout the system and iX facilitates debugging with Microsoft’s CRL Debugger.
Another advantage is the use of screen templates to help create projects. These are comparable to layer handling in graphics or construction programs, which allow the user to separate or consolidate project details while they work in multiple background screens.
‘Beijer Electronics’ iX is a design for the future,’ explains Mr. Schening, ‘enabling you to design your applications creatively and efficiently and with the look and feel you want.’
The company is releasing its iX solution in Development, HMI System, and Runtime modules and plans to increase the availability of the system to provide solutions in an expanding range of possibilities. www.beijerelectronics.com
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