Plant Automation Gets a Huge Kick-start in 2017

By Dillon Perera, System Consultant, InSource Solutions

Sometimes starting is the hardest part.

One of the things I enjoy doing is cooking, and it’s a hobby where overtime you definitely see yourself improve. Knowing how to cook really just means that my toolbox of skills is a little more equipped than a person who’s trying to cook for the first time. But whether you’re a seasoned expert, or brand new to the kitchen, if you don’t know what dish you want to prepare you can still end up wasting time not knowing where to start.

At home this problem is easily solved by asking my wife what she wants to eat. She’ll typically respond saying “I don’t care”, which means I’m allowed to make anything I want. I then throw ideas at her, and she repeatedly tells me all the dishes she doesn’t want to eat. After about 20 suggestions, finally we get to something she’ll find acceptable. So just that easily, I know what I have to make, and can start working on it.

Marriage is wonderful.

In the world of Wonderware’s System Platform plant automation software, we can often run into similar problems of not knowing where to start. All the tools are given to us, but we have a blank slate waiting for us to begin developing. With System Platform 2017, Wonderware has made this process much easier by giving us some building blocks to help us get started.

Instead of starting from scratch, we now have a library of pre-built asset templates. The real Game Changer here is that these aren’t just graphics that we can lay on a screen, instead these are fully customizable pre-built objects, including both attributes and graphics. If you were starting a new project, or adding on to an existing project, we don’t have to start from scratch. Wonderware’s asset library gives us the ability to open the software and utilize what’s already been built for us, even customizing these assets as we want. The library of assets from Wonderware, include:

  • Equipment Assets such as Agitators, Pumps, Blowers, etc.
  • Instrument Assets such as Temperature, Flow, Pressure , etc. sensors.
  • Valve Assets such as 2-Way Valves, 3-way Motor Valves, .

These pre-built assets are a huge time-saver, but they aren’t the only new feature worth noting. In System Platform 2017 Wonderware has also introduced a new feature called Object Wizards. Traditionally when you were building a System Platform Galaxy you would start by building basic generic templates, then overtime build more and more specific templates. Wonderware has turned this whole idea on its head, allowing us to create Object Wizards where we define all of the options up front. This streamlines development, makes it easier to enforce standards, and drastically reduces the number of templates that need to be built. This is a Game Changer, making development and maintenance much easier tasks.

With the Object Wizards, instead of building templates for every flavor of a device I have, I now only need one master template which covers the different variations. Admittedly, users have tried to achieve this in the past with custom scripting, by building massive objects and then using scripts to enable or disable attributes. While this may have met a similar goal, it resulted in objects that were heavily bloated with extra attributes and scripts, making maintenance of these objects difficult and causing much more overhead on plant computers. Frankly, this approach was very labor intensive. The Object Wizard functionality fixes this, making it easy to build customizable objects, without the need for complex scripting, improving performance and the speed at which we can build our systems.

With these two new features, working with System Platform is easier than ever. If I was in the kitchen, this is the equivalent of leaving the flour in the pantry and instead pulling out a box of pre-made cake mix.  I no longer have to start from scratch.

To see what these two game-changing System Platform 2017 features look like, watch the video now.