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SCADA looks to the future

20 October 2015

Inductive Automation has released Ignition v7.8, the latest version of its modular, web-based HMI, SCADA, and MES software platform. Ignition v7.8 boasts new features that can change how SCADA is used across the enterprise. Andy Pye looks at some of the new features

"Future-proofing” is rare in the world of technology, where the latest tech devices seem to become obsolete not long after they hit the market.

Used to create custom HMI, SCADA, and MES applications in process industries, the Ignition software platform extends the reach of conventional SCADA. The modular, web-based, and scalable software architecture performs true real-time analytics and is platform-independent. Inductive Automation was the first company to implement a native Java OPC-UA stack in January 2010, making its products 100% cross platform, which is rare for commercial SCADA vendors.

Anyone can download the full version of Ignition and use it for free in trial mode for an unlimited time. This allows users to have unlimited clients, tags, and connections and makes for a system that is fully scalable while being practical and affordable. A plant can expand its SCADA system into MES, or just use it for MES. Users have the freedom to add or remove modules without sending their licensing costs soaring, or adversely affecting the underlying system.

Added modules

The new Version 7.8 has added modules and features designed to ease connecting, managing, and analysing industrial data. Ignition v7.8's new Reporting Module allows users to build a variety of reports easily, and features automatic scheduling and delivery, query tools, and backwards-compatibility with reports made with the previous version. The new SQL Bridge Module, provides connectivity between OPC data and SQL databases. And the tag history capabilities in the previous version of the SQL Bridge Module are now available in the separate Tag Historian Module.

Ignition v7.8's scalability is expanded with the enterprise administration module (EAM), which enables enterprises to manage multiple-server architectures, including those that geographically dispersed. It is easier to control and monitor multiple Ignition gateways from one machine, as well as schedule, automate, and track maintenance tasks from one central location. The DNP3 Driver Module enables the Ignition OPC-UA server to work with the Distributed Network Protocol (DNP3).

The Omron NJ Driver (still in beta release) enables Ignition to communicate with the Omron NJ series of controllers. MES Modules are separately licensed Ignition plug-in modules that generally provide higher level functionality with less user development.

Perhaps the most powerful yet perhaps most overlooked new feature in Inductive Automation's release of Ignition v7.8 is the new web-based documentation, which includes user commenting on each section, examples, a new interface, and new graphics.

Mobility for supervisory systems

Independent provider of HMI/SCADA software, ARC Informatique, and specialist in the design and development of products and solutions for the positioning and tracking of people and assets, Ubiquicom, have collaborated to offer a mobility solution.

The two companies are collaborating to instil mobility at the heart of supervisory systems by interfacing with established networks such as LoRa, Sigfox, etc. Based on real-time monitoring of biometric and environmental parameters, Ubiquicom adds an upper layer application to the PcVue Geo Map Control with its Locator Suite.

Easy to configure and performed via web services, these new features allow detection and tracking of people and assets directly displayed as PcVue markers (which can be symbols) in a geographical map. This detection and tracking is efficient, whether indoors and outdoors, regardless of the network´s type and available communications (GSM, WiFi, Bluetooth, BLE).


 

Key Points

  • Modular, web-based, and scalable software architecture performs true real-time analytics and is platform-independent
  • Scalability is expanded with the enterprise administration module (EAM), which enables enterprises to manage multiple-server architectures
  • New web-based documentation includes user commenting on each section, examples, a new interface, and new graphics

 
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