The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) grants plant operators access to large amounts of process data in real time from the smart devices on the factory floor. It is imperative that plant operators possess the proper tools for efficient data management to improve their processes and reduce costs. HMIs, thin clients, and software can help plant operators effectively utilize IIoT data to enhance workflows, increase safety, and perform predictive maintenance.
VisuNet Remote Monitors or thin clients equipped with VisuNet RM Shell 5 firmware from Pepperl+Fuchs allow operators to easily access and analyze factory floor data in real time from any location. The RM Shell 5 firmware is based on the Microsoft® Windows® 10 IoT Enterprise LTSB operating system, which makes the firmware highly adaptable and secure. RM Shell 5 allows for the creation of remote protocol connection profiles to connect the HMI back to the central servers or host PCs to access the site-specific applications. The user interface is simple for convenient control and monitoring of plant processes.
If an HMI must be located in a hazardous or harsh location, Pepperl+Fuchs offers VisuNet HMIs that can withstand the stresses of those environments. Available in an Intel Quad core processor PC version and a thin client version, the VisuNet GXP is designed for Zone 1/21, Zone 2/22 and Division 2 areas. The display unit comes in two sizes—a 21.5” full HD display or a compact 19” display.
While the advancement of IIoT expands data accessibility, it also increases the risk of cybersecurity threats. The LTSB or Long-Term Servicing Branch of the RM Shell 5 firmware means that Windows® makes security updates available on a long-term basis. The firmware has a built-in firewall and USB lockdown to reduce the risk of malware and viruses. A Unified Write Filter protects the drive against malicious programs. To further increase firmware security, antivirus programs can be Operators can take control of the unit should the need arise.installed and passwords can be set to control access rights.
The VisuNet Control Center software is an additional tool that can be added to a site installation to allow for complete management of the thin client installation, all from one central location within the plant. With VisuNet Control Center, the operators on site have the ability to perform group management tasks, full-scale configuration of settings and connection profiles on the thin clients, and even have remote visibility of the HMI screen. This is a valuable tool for the operators in the field as they no longer have to relay the information they see on the HMI screen to the operator in the control room. The control room operator has the ability to access the field unit to see exactly what is going on and can take control of the unit should the need arise.
These tools provide plant operators with the flexibility needed to easily manage IIoT data. The days of relying on a centralized workstation to acquire process data from the process control system are over. IIoT has made industrial process data highly accessible to those who have the proper tools to attain it.