Supervision Projects: The importance of graphics

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For a technician the fact that project works as planned is without a doubt the most important result. The PLC functions and makes the factory function, data are stored, alarms are alerted and the screen provides all the information the operator needs and something else. However, let’s put ourselves in the shoes of those who have to use the supervision project. Those who need to have simple but precision vision of the factory and production and be able to enter machine parameters, intervene in the event of malfunction and analyze data that has been made available.
The system integrator who uses Movicon.NExT, the Progea SCADA platform, has an all-inclusive and powerful development environment to use at their discretion to develop projects of any type and size. Lots of ready-to-use functions, such as schedulers, alarm notifications, DB management, Alarms, integrated reports and a suite of countless communication protocols including OPC UA. All this and much more can be found in the Movicon.NExt development environment where projects can be created quickly using script in the preferred programming language instead of writing lines of code.

Having said this, one thing that often gets over looked is the graphics. Graphics play just as much an important role as a perfectly running project does. The man-machine interface should not only allow the operator to navigate the application’s pages to find information quickly, it should also provide clear and eye catching visuals of what they see.

The Movicon.NExT suite of graphics

Movicon.NExT allows you to get truly unique HMI pages that other software platform products on the market find hard to compete with. Partly using or not using these powerful graphics altogether would mean jeopardizing the development of a truly exclusive project that would otherwise enhance the study and development underlying the project’s inception.
Movicon.NExT is designed for developing supervision projects by using very impressive graphics that also include 2D and 3D. Movicon.NExT completely exploits the Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) technology and the Direct X graphics acceleration to enable users to create screen page graphics with exceptional quality that is superior to other products which are still based on the obsolete the WinForm and GDI technology. The platform’s graphics library has a rich selection of symbols divided by category which have been completely rewritten in XAML. Additional symbols and images can also be used and imported in different formats such as the BMP, PNG, JPG and other multimedia formats.

To make data collected from the field together with the pages that display the production processes more transparent, you need to use a tool that is equipped with advanced graphics and a development environment that helps system integrators to rapidly build the various project screens. Thanks to the new technology on which the platform is based, projects can be created in less time than before by using wizards and templates, symbol libraries and toolbox to get special graphical effects of the highest quality.

Another dominating aspect of modern visual effects is the application of 3D graphics that provide operators with 360° vision of the screen’s contents. By using the 3D management with the aid of the ‘Views’ objects, it is possible to make images dynamically move in response to certain events such as the triggering of an Alarm associated to a component positioned at the back of the object out of view and therefore not displayed for default. br />
This kind of management will reduce the number of screen pages used for visualizing the factory system and at the same time replace orthogonal projections with three-dimensional objects to convey greater clarity and detail.
For instance, if a valve becomes damaged but is positioned out of view at the far end of the plant system, the view will rotate until the object in error is brought into view at the foreground. This is only a small example of how 3D can be used. It is often used in Building Automation for offshore installations to help detect broken parts and failures in complex machinery and where its application is constantly expanding.
3D graphical representations are being used more frequently in modern supervision. 3D visualization is a great help to those who work in plants or with machines and need to understand exactly where errors have occurred. By using the views management in Progea’s SCADA, the image of the plant or machine displayed on screen will automatically change to the position events occur.

Graphics tips

However, the fact of having SCADA that is powerful not only in performance but also in graphics is still not enough: designer engineers should also take into account the rules for creating simple and intuitive interfaces. The objective is to establish a good balance between color, images and displayed information. If a screen page contains too much information it will be impossible for the operator to take it in all at once let alone have a clear picture of what is happening in the field. Rather than having just the one overcrowded page, it would be best to divide information logically into several easily accessible pages instead. The same also applies to color combinations. Using too many bright colors on screen may make it look like a dressed up Harlequin that will only create confusion for the operator who needs to keep important highlighted events under continuous control. Having a user interface with soft colors helps highlight operating statuses and error occurrences better.

A lot of research has gone into creating user-friendly interface graphics. You will find a lot of information relating to this subject if you search for High Performance HMI. Progea has also published its own White Paper on HMI Design. If you wish to have further information or advice relating to interface graphics design, please contact the Progea Team who are always on hand to give you all the support and assistance you need to get the best out of using the Movicon.NExT graphics.

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