C-more Remote Access for iPhone®, iPad®, and iPod touch®
In late 2009, AutomationDirect released the Remote Access and Control feature for the C-more operator interface product line. This feature allowed users to connect to a C-more panel via the Internet and remotely view and control the panel application as if they were on site. The primary objective was to add remote accessibility without requiring customers to purchase more hardware components or software utilities; we accomplished this by making this feature available for all C-more panels which support Ethernet. Although C-more was not the only operator interface in the market to support this type of feature, AutomationDirect was one of the few companies to develop its own native client/server application specifically designed to make the best use of the performance and project runtime capabilities of the C-more panel. The user does not need to purchase, download and install a client software program on their PC. Instead, the user needs only to enter the panel address into most any Windows Internet browser and activate the remote connection.
Remote access and control has quickly become a feature that is used in many different types of applications. However, as the use of mobile devices has increased, so too has the need for more industrial devices to support mobile applications. So it stands to reason that creating an application for the iPhone and iPad became one of our most popular customer requests. It is this demand that led to the development of a dedicated C-more Remote HMI application for the iPhone and iPad which AutomationDirect released in July of 2011. This client application allows users to view and control a C-more panel in the same manner that the PC browser version allows, only now they simply download, install and use a dedicated app created for the Apple iOS.
The Remote HMI App allows users to control the machine or process from an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch as though they are physically in front of the C-more Panel (with ‘Full Control mode’), or the ability to configure the settings for ‘View Only’, or ‘View and Screen Change Only’ for those applications that are more presence sensitive.
The C-more Remote Access feature supports the iOS with the C-more Remote HMI App for the iPad, iPhone (3G or later), or iPod touch. Users need only to configure the network settings in the panel project and connect the panel to a network.
Key Remote HMI App Features:
The Unlock Safety Button feature helps reduce unintentional activation of the remote C-more panel inputs, such as button and keypad entries. Mobile devices are susceptible to being dropped or the screen being touched by a user unintentionally. When the button is in the “Off State”, the C-more Remote HMI App workspace tools are active and allow the user to interact with the app menu items, zoom/pan actions, and control all touch interface features. The device functions as an iPhone/iPad/ iPod touch in this state.
For those users who might be connecting with an iPhone, the zoom feature can be very handy. Connecting to a 15-Inch C-more panel is one example. Although the iPhone display is very clear, the viewing area is not very large. Therefore, trying to display the entire screen can be a challenge, but is not impossible. To help resolve this issue, a zoom feature was added to allow users to zoom in on specific objects or areas of the screen for better viewing clarity.
Users may also want to make a record of the screen that is being displayed. For this reason the app was also designed to allow users to capture and save the active screen (at any zoom level) to review, email or print if needed. This comes in handy when there are items such as trend graphs or other critical data points being displayed on the screen.
Multi level User accounts
The Remote HMI App also supports three remote access user accounts which can be configured with unique user names and passwords and stored in the panel project, which allows for multiple levels of access. Other remote access apps do not offer multi level log-in accounts. Each account allows up to five remote users to be connected simultaneously. This feature offers different types of log-in accounts – “Full Control”, “View Only”, and “View & Screen Change”. The “View & Screen Change” option is specialized for the C-more app and is not supported in competitors’ apps.
Activation or Notification Tags provide an option for each account to have associated user-configurable TAGS that allow the Panel project or PLC project to indicate when a remote user is connected, or to enable or disable the remote access feature. These tags can be used to activate alarms, events or notifications to alert local operators that a remote user is connected. The Disable/Enable TAGS can be assigned to a switch to give local operators the ability to enable or disable the remote access feature for security or safety reasons.
There are many new possibilities available when the advanced features in the C-more panel are used. For example, when an alarm or event occurs, the C-more panel can send an email to managers or maintenance personnel’s iPhones or iPads. They can then use the Remote HMI App on the iPhone to connect to and monitor the application or even control the application and make the needed adjustments.
Using iTunes 9.1 or later, you can copy files between your computer and apps on your iOS device which support File Sharing. The Remote HMI App creates a “.dat” file that stores the favorite C-more panel connection settings created by users. This allows users to copy, save, or move the favorites from one device to another, or create backup files for when an iPhone/iPad may fail or need to be reset. Please refer to iTunes help for more details on file sharing if needed.
By Greg Philbrook,
HMI & Communications Product Manager
Originally Posted: Sept 1, 2011