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NExT AR app heads up operators in human-machine



Progea has developed an augmented reality (AR) app that incorporates Human Machine Interfaces (HMIs) onto Smart Glasses. By superimposing digital information onto physical objects, the AR HMIs empower factory workers to interact with machines and manufacturing processes virtually. The app, NExT AR, uses the SCADA/HMI platform Movicon.NExT, so it provides genuine feedback and control while seamlessly integrating with other management systems and software layers.

AR offers a unique opportunity to enrich our working environment, by providing an interactive platform that displays relevant virtual information and aligns real and digital objects with each other in real-time. When AR is associated with head-up-displays (HUDs), its potential skyrockets, as it enables hands-free interaction with the surrounding mixed-reality environment.

An area where AR HUD has massive potential is the factory floor. By eliminating the physical separation between machines and their automation data, this technology can help factories to improve industrial processes and product quality whilst minimising errors, downtime and costs. For example, an operator in the field could perform maintenance activities faster, while watching instructions on how to perform each task correctly. Similarly, it would be possible to turn valves while monitoring the values of the flow downstream change in real-time, making carefully judged adjustments.

The functionalities of a high-quality SCADA on HUD

The NExT AR app was created to allow plant operators to follow key performance indicators (KPIs), receive alerts and notifications as well as interact with critical plant processes in real-time from anywhere across the factory floor. More precisely, the app connects wearables to the factory’s SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) system, thus creating a self-contained, hands-free and ergonomic HMI (human-machine interface). In this way, operators can access any dashboards, alerts, pages, screens, real-time and historical data stored within the SCADA system.

NExT AR is compatible with Microsoft HoloLens and Android smart glasses, including Google Glass, and uses Movicon.NExT industrial SCADA platform as its centralised data management system. The latter was also developed by Progea and is available in the UK through Products 4 Automation (P4A).

Remote access from NExT AR to SCADA is provided by the Movicon.NExT HTML5 Web Client. The two systems interact via Wi-Fi connections and OPC UA server-client communication channels. In this way, the HUD can display any data from Movicon.NExT.

More precisely, the functions of Movicon.NExT accessible from NExT AR and the interactions between the two platforms are fully customisable, in order to satisfy different industrial needs. Bespoke solutions can be either created by the users, via software development kits (SDK), or by Progea itself.

Furthermore, the modular and flexible workspace presented by Progea’s SCADA is designed to ensure ease of use and intuitive navigation via advanced visualisation capabilities and captivating graphics. The platform uses Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) resolution-independent and vector-based rendering engine. This next-generation technology offers 2D and 3D graphics. As a result, these features are also present in NExT AR, which can support 3D and holographic imaging visualisations as well as “‘pinch and zoom’ functionalities that further optimise user interaction.

Factories become smart under the eye of AR HUD

In the past, plant operators and engineers had to choose between staying at their own desk to monitor the equipment via the SCADA system or be on the factory floor to look at the machines themselves, where they were out of touch with other plant and control systems. Thanks to NExT AR, this dilemma no longer exists, as the shop floor and higher enterprise levels can truly connect.

As mixed reality becomes more and more popular for industrial applications, users’ expectations will continue to grow. Progea is continuously pushing the boundaries of what is possible with AR HMI, by implementing new functionalities and expanding the compatibility of NExT AR to new wearables. In this way, the company is deploying the Industrial Internet of Things and paving the way for Industry 4.0.

Products4Automation (P4A) is a specialist supplier of new and innovative software and hardware solutions to the UK market. Product ranges available from P4A include the latest touch-screen HMI’s and flat panel PCs, SCADA software and plug-ins, a wide range of SCADA enabled hardware, Alarm plug-in software for large automation systems, and a full range of Production Intelligence software solutions.

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myNORD: The right drive solution at a click



The myNORD customer portfolio provides practical support for the configuration and ordering of your drive technology. Simple, always available and fast.

In the myNORD-Customer Portal customers can configure and order their required drive solution online from the standard NORD portfolio. A clear interface, a convenient product search, an explicit structure and intuitive navigation make the platform very user-friendly.

All configuration steps are carried out on a single screen. All specifications which have been entered, as well as the features which are still to be selected are clearly displayed in a box at the right hand side of the screen and are always in view. A wide range of search and sorting functions facilitate the selection of suitable drive technology. Thanks to the plausibility check, the product configurator only shows options that match the requirements which have already been entered. Offers are generated directly and the current order and delivery status can be tracked at all times. 3D models, dimension sheets and outline drawings are available for all standard products.

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A digital transformation in the cold chain



Digital technologies, data mining and analytics tools are dominating the modern economy, transforming nearly every aspect of how we operate. Businesses are beginning to realize the power of data and how it can be used to improve the customer experience, grow market share and improve operational performance — all culminating in what’s commonly being referred to as the digital transformation. This transformation has the potential to bring significant benefits to several areas of the industry, including food safety, energy conservation and refrigerant management, to name a few. 

Today, retailers have access to more data than ever before, allowing for new opportunities to innovate and implement more comprehensive management in the cold chain. Rather than narrowing focus onto one section of the business, operators can now think across entire enterprises and supply chains for broader insights and deeper intelligence into how their stores are operating and learn where they can improve and innovate. 

One factor that makes this transformation so interesting is the amount of commitment industry leaders are putting into developing deeper, stronger relationships with their customers, rather than using the newfound data to exploit sales opportunities. Customers have rewarded this dedication and innovation with increasing loyalty — which translates into better sales. 

A recent example of the potential data has to help solve problems in the cold chain was the concern surrounding an outbreak of foodborne illness from romaine lettuce purchased at grocery outlets. After customers got sick and the story hit the 24/7 news cycle, many demanded to know where the contamination had occurred. In this case, technology and data were essential in tracking the instance of contamination to a specific farm. But this example is just the tip of the iceberg. 

A similar, data-driven approach can allow retail stores to reduce their energy costs during peak demand periods. By connecting building management systems (BMS) to the local energy provider, companies can limit or avoid “peak time surcharges” that are assessed when the greatest amounts of energy are required. The BMS receives notices from the utility when demand reduction opportunities arise and, through a demand response program, retailers can automatically shut down non-essential equipment and optimize energy use. 

The amplitude of data available from this digital transformation is ushering in an intriguing period in cold chain history. At Emerson, we see this happening not in grandiose, intangible, all-consuming approaches, but in the expansion of existing, proven technologies coupled with the use of emerging digital assets to create new insights. 

As the iterative development of connected, adjacent systems accelerates and becomes more powerful, there will be opportunities to revolutionize how companies operate. We at Emerson are here to help you make this critical cold chain transition a reality for your business.

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