22 Jul 2024


Rugged modular HMIs support plug-in protocol conversion

US-based Red Lion Controls has unveiled a new generation of rugged HMIs (human machine interfaces) which, it claims, are the first of their type to combine plug-in modules with protocol conversion, data-logging and Web-based monitoring and control.

The Graphite operator panels, in cast-aluminium housings, allow users to connect, monitor and control their processes easily and to expand their systems using the plug-in modules as their needs change. Red Lion says that users will also be able to reduce their development and commissioning times compared to traditional systems based on HMIs paired with separate I/O, PLCs and other controllers.

The built-in protocol converter allows programmers to choose 13 or more simultaneous protocols, from a list of more than 250, to integrate devices such as PLCs, drives, barcode readers and panel meters.

The built-in Web server allows users to monitor and control their application via PCs, tablets or smartphones. SMS text messages and email alerts can provide early warnings of any problems, helping to avoid costly downtime.

According to Jeff Thornton, Red Lion’s director of product management, “the HMI has become the nexus of the machine,” and the new range “offers the highest level of protocol support to simplify even the most complex multi-vendor environment. By logging performance data and critical events, customers can implement process improvements or perform fault-finding activities.”

There are eight models in the new range, in sizes from 7″ to 15″, with sleek bezels that provide a relatively large display for their size. The 7″ and 10″ models are available as sunlight-visible models that are suitable for harsh outdoor environments.

The new HMIs are supported by Red Lion’s Crimson 3.0 software, which is supplied at no extra cost. The easy-to-use software can be used to configure protocols, define data tags, set up sophisticated applications and create attractive user interfaces. It allows customers to standardise on one HMI for all of their machines, regardless of the PLC or drive manufacturer they are using.