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Industrial Automation

Man Machine Interface

The “Movement Controller” software, in addition to generating the PLC code, generates the definitions of the stacker cranes, the racking, the alarm text and the screen layouts for its own use as the man-machine interface to the conveyor system and the cranes. This interface features:

  • System overview. Any problem in the system is reported to this screen, and on this screen is displayed the locations of each load on the conveyor system or on a crane, and the mode of each conveyor (automatic, out of service, manual forward, manual reverse, alarm) and each crane (automatic, out of service, alarm), (see Heavy-Unit-Load Conveyor Overview)
  • The system may be zoomed into, providing a pixel-based graphical representation of any portion of the conveyor system, showing the current running state of the conveyors, the positions/states of their photocells and other devices, the position of the cranes and their tines and the states of their photocells. Whilst zoomed the focus of attention may be shifted to follow the progress of a load through the system. All devices supported by the generated PLC code are presented, including those defined by the user, (see Heavy-Unit-Load Conveyor Zoomed )
  • Manual control of any number of conveyors allowing the rest to continue in automatic operation. Each conveyor may be set individually to: automatic, out of service or manual. Those set to manual may be run forward or reverse (electricals permitting) and at high or low speed (electricals permitting). Additionally, individual manual controls are provided for all devices, including those defined by the user, (see Heavy-Unit-Load Conveyor Zoomed Manual)
  • Individual screens for each crane, providing the display of alarms and status, and allowing the operator to reset its alarms, to issue commands to it, to modify its commands or to operate it in manual. Also displayed on these screens are explanations of how the automatic system is making use of the cranes, (see the Operator's Manual section Stacker Crane Status)
  • A graphical display of the racking, allowing the status and contents of each location to be displayed and, privilege permitting, modified, (see the Operator's Manual section Stores Diagram)
  • Screens to create, modify and reorder the retrieval schedules, (see the Operator's Manual section Retrieve from Stores by Location)
  • In addition to providing these screens natively, most of these screens have an HTTP counterpart that may be presented on modern browsers. These screens generally only provide the ability to monitor and interrogate, but not control. These screens are provided by a combination of HTML and CSS files (and the occasional image file), and live software-generated HTML and SVG, along with JavaScript programs that incorporate AJAX techniques to update the information displayed.
  • Interfacing to management information systems. In the past we have used either customer-specified asynchronous serial communications protocols or FTP/TCP/IP/ETHERNET, to transfer files in flat text format, comma-separated-variable format, or XML format. The software is now written so that it will accept any of these file formats and can generate either one, on an individual file type basis, via a configuration setting.
  • Presentation of all alarms listed in the Conveyor PLC Code Generator as well as crane alarms and communications failures, (see the Operator's Manual section Crane Status and Control)
  • Logging, reporting and archiving of alarms and operator actions, (see the Operator's Manual sections Event Log Historic Report, Conveyor Alarm Summary Report, Crane Alarm Summary Report, and Archive List of Events to Floppy Disc)
  • Logging, reporting and archiving of load movements, (see the Operator's Manual sections Load Log Historic Report, and Archive Load Movements to Floppy Disc)
  • Flexible reporting of the inventory, (see the Operator's Manual sections Produce Report Listing Store Occupancy, and Produce Report Showing Store Matrix)
  • Remote terminals may be added to the computer system. These allow manual control to be provided at convenient points throughout the site. The orientation of the conveyor system on the screen may be set on a per-terminal basis. Care has been taken to ensure that correct behaviour will result when a single conveyor is controlled manually by more than one terminal. Remote terminals may be connected via RS232C, RS422 or TELNET/TCP/IP/ETHERNET,
  • Emulation of the conveyor PLC code to provide a simulation, or a soft-PLC to control the conveyor system without the need for a physical PLC,
  • Simulation of the cranes,
  • Four-level security system, with each individual screen, database field and command an operator may issue a crane being allocated a run-time alterable security level. Each operator is created with a password and a security level, (see the Operator's Manual sections "Log Off", "Modify List of Users", "Menu Text and Security", "Database Privilege", "Crane Commands and Security", "Configuration Data", "Palletiser Commands", and "Carton Conveyor Commands")
  • Display and adjustment of the memory of the PLC (any data file). The symbol of the data element at the cursor is automatically displayed. This applies to the cranes as well so long as they are based on Allen-Bradley PLC-5 or SLC-500 controllers, (see Monitoring PLC Data and Program)
  • Display of the PLC ladder program (any ladder file), with animation and symbols. This applies to the cranes as well so long as they are based on Allen-Bradley PLC-5 or SLC-500 controllers, (see Monitoring PLC Data and Program)
  • Securing of the database to a standby computer system, along with a display of its progress. The standby computer system is capable of behaving as a remote terminal and a communications analyser, eaves-dropping on the main computer, (see the Operator's Manual section Monitor Securing to Standby)
  • Display of the communications to the PLCs, the management information system and the remote terminals with optional logging and reporting for the PLC and the management information system channels, (see the Operator's Manual section Monitor Communications)
  • Help system, allowing the operator to view the section of the manual corresponding to the screen being displayed and to access any other section of the operator's manual, the technical manual, or the software manual via hypertext links, contents or search on subject. Help System
  • Saving and restoring of the stacker crane configuration data files, (see Stacker Crane PLC Program, and Save and Restore Crane PLC Configuration)
  • On-line and off-line utilities to import data into and export data from the database. (see the Operator's Manual section Import to and Export from the Database)