Mike Hake likes to say that he’s “an electrician first and a programmer second.” Hake is Senior Facilities Technician at an electronics manufacturer in Bohemia, New York. The company designs and manufactures motion control and other products for applications in aerospace, defense, and industrial automation.
An electrician by training, Hake learned to program automation controllers when the company bought Opto 22’s SNAP PAC System to monitor and control the compressors, vacuum pumps, lighting, and other equipment at its manufacturing facility.
Hake also learned to use PAC Display HMI (human-machine interface) software to build operator interfaces for the automated systems. The operator interfaces he built worked well on a Windows PC.
A few years passed and, as Hake saw smartphones multiply and his spare time diminish, he realized how valuable they’d be for remote monitoring and control. Smartphone support became a priority. Hake thought about using remote desktop software to access his HMI, but using a PC on a smartphone’s small display was awkward at best. He searched for something simpler and better.
Hake found his smartphone solution when he read about groov on Opto 22’s OptoForums online community, learning that operator interfaces built in groov run in a modern web browser on almost any smartphone. Hake bought a groov Box hardware appliance and easily got it up and running, an experience he describes as “very plug and play.” He then built operator interfaces in groov and created user and group accounts, assigning access permissions and operator rights to employees based on job, department, and other criteria.
The existing Windows PC-based operator interfaces remain online. Explains Hake: “groov augments those HMIs; it doesn’t replace them.” He says that groov makes essential information and important controls immediately available, while the HMIs provide detailed information that’s valuable for analysis and diagnostics.
With his groov interface open on his smartphone, Hake can remotely monitor and control facility compressors, lighting, air conditioning units, pumps, and ovens. He can also see the facility’s power consumption data from three Opto 22 OptoEMU Sensor energy monitoring units. Hake particularly appreciates being able to monitor and, if necessary, override an automated schedule for lighting and some equipment.
Another bonus is the speed of the groov interface. Because groov retrieves only new or changed information, the response is immediate, even over a slow mobile connection when he’s away from the plant. “I can’t believe how fast data updates.”