By Sven Kroger, Product Manager at INOSOFT
Frequently, when I’m talking to our clients, the need for completely new ways of operating Human Machine Interfaces (HMI) – i.e. the interface between man and machine – is becoming more and more apparent. Inspired by latest consumer devices like smartphones and tablets our customers are demanding traditional function-oriented machine visualizations to be replaced with applications, which display all the necessary data in a user-centric, intuitive GUI.
In my view, displaying complete machinery and equipment and any subcomponents in 3D is a great tool which in the industrial field, for example, paves the way for useful assistance systems for maintenance and diagnosis. A prime example of this is the visualization of fault location within a virtual 3D model, as was developed for Liebherr crane systems.
Figure 1: The red coloring visualizes fault location in the 3D model (source: Liebherr-Components Biberach GmbH). Starting from the overall view in figure 1, in this example, the user can obtain further details on the fault location.
Figure 2: Page sequence of fault location detection (source: Liebherr-Components Biberach GmbH)
This really helps to considerably reduce the downtimes of machines and equipment, as the maintenance staff quickly gets clear and comprehensive information on the location and cause of the fault.
Another example of applying 3D display technology is in so-called ‘augmented reality’ systems. The aim here is to provide a computer-aided extension of human perception. With a camera on an industrial tablet PC, an operator could, for example, capture an image of a faulty machine part. The software recognizes the machine part in question and automatically blends in details and maintenance support information as a 3D overlay on to the camera visual. Even if a scenario like this at present appears a little futuristic, I’m sure we will be encountering applications similar to this in the near future.
These application examples go to show just how high the technical standards being placed on hardware and software for implementing modern HMI solutions actually are.
VisiWin, the open visualization system, is INOSOFT’s answer from the software side. Our software is based 100% on Microsoft .NET and, by using Visual Studio, it can be widely extended with a freely programmable API. Thus we ensure the use of standardized software interfaces from other manufacturers, such as DirectX or the integration of additional libraries and frameworks. Where customized solutions are required, we support our customers with an extensive range of services, from individual training right up to turnkey applications.
The hardware side of things poses particular challenges for this type of industrial HMI applications. On top of the high level of compute and graphics performance which is required for calculating and displaying power-hungry 3D models, industrial specifications have to be considered. First and foremost these include low power dissipation, extended temperature range and long-term availability. In our opinion, AMD is very well positioned with its solutions. As AMD‘s Accelerated Processing Units (APUs) integrate both a powerful multicore CPU as well as discrete-class GPU on a single chip, they help enable HMIs to deliver fluid, high-quality visualization.
Thanks to their high level of scalability from low-power designs to high-performance solutions, OEMs can realize entire product families of industrial tablet PCs right up to high-end HMIs on a uniform hard- and software platform. OEMs can benefit from a very efficient development process and operators profit from higher productivity and safety thanks to a modern, highly intuitive HMI interface. We tested VisiWin on the AMD Embedded G-Series processor-based Panel PCs of SÜTRON electronic GmbH, a company of the Phoenix Contact Group. These integrate congatec‘s Qseven modules, allowing for the performance to be scaled using standardized modules. This is also beneficial for the performance bandwidth of the AMD processors, which support two independent displays and can also, by the way, be limited in their TDP which is a great help in system designs in the sensitive low power area. All in all, there’s a complete ecosystem out there for HMI designers, who place strong demands on graphics performance - even in harsh industrial environments.
Sven Kröger can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Guest Blogger Sven Kröger is a Product Manager at INOSOFT. His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites, and references to third party trademarks, are provided for convenience and illustrative purposes only. Unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such links, and no third party endorsement of AMD or any of its products is implied.