Product news: February 2002
HMIs open up to the benefits of Windows CE
Siemens is adopting the Windows CE operating systems for a new generation of Simatic operator panels and HMIs. It has also developed a "lite" industrial PC to fill the gap between office PCs and rugged shopfloor computers.
Siemens, which claims to be the world`s largest supplier of operator panels, hopes that the new ranges will help to secure its position in a market that is growing globally by about 10% a year. In the UK alone, the panel market is reckoned to be worth around £16m, with the industrial PC market adding a further £23m.
Siemens believes that adopting "open" standards such as Windows CE will help to cut development costs and allow the use of drivers for other suppliers` PLCs. The CE-based panels will also be able to run third-party software such as Scada packages, as well as a software-based PLC package that Siemens plans to launch in the second quarter of this year. The panels come with built-in Web browsers.
Users of Siemens previous panels which had proprietary operating systems will be able to migrate easily to the CE-based devices using Siemens` ProTool HMI software. The new family includes six models with displays from 14.5-26.4cm, and touchscreen or keypad entry. Prices start at under £500.
The "lite" industrial PC is available in either a rack-mounting version or one with a built-in touch-sensitive display. By dispensing with some of features needed to produce a fully ruggedised industrial PC, Siemens has been able to keep the cost down to around £2,000 for a version with a 30cm touchpanel - about £800-1,000 less than a toughened PC.