One-click dashboard eliminates an entire work step

Many machine builders and systems integrators looking to transform their business models have identified machine and plant process data as being a core fundamental.

When it comes to tailoring new data-driven services to individual customer requirements, however, they need solutions that are as cost-efficient as possible. Here, keeping the engineering as simple as possible is a key factor. TwinCAT Analytics supports this kind of Engineering 4.0 approach with the one-click dashboard, a new feature that reduces the once time-consuming process of dashboard creation to nothing more than a simple mouse click.

Beckhoff’s TwinCAT Analytics’ automated functionality for converting analysis configurations into executable PLC code now also includes dashboard generation. With one-click dashboard, all it takes for users to generate an entire HTML5-based analytics dashboard based on the PLC code and to load it into a selected Analytics Runtime container is a click of the mouse. When the process completes, users receive a network address that they can then use to access the dashboard in a web browser. This ability to generate dashboards without the need to write a single line of code or design graphics is a time-saver within the engineering process. Based on TwinCAT 3 HMI, the new functionality provides at least one HMI Control for every TwinCAT Analytics algorithm, each with an up-to-date tile design that follows the latest web standards. The controls contained in a dashboard can be selected individually in an algorithm’s properties with the aid of a control preview. Users can also combine multiple algorithms within an individual HMI Control.

Generated automatically, tailored individually
Automatically generated dashboards can be customised by configuring individual user settings. For instance, users are able to pick their own header colours and logos, and can even choose to show geographically distributed machine locations on a world map. In addition, the controls are available in a choice of layouts and themes as well as multiple languages. It is also possible to switch between light and dark themes, and to automatically set links to methods that reset the algorithms. Despite this high level of flexibility, dashboards that are created automatically may not always meet every user’s needs, so when TwinCAT 3 HMI projects are generated, they are integrated into Visual Studio as well. This enables users to adapt their dashboards to their requirements in the graphical editor. Even with dashboards that need extensive customisation, the engineering process still involves fewer clicks than the conventional approach, saving time and expense

Smart engineering directly in the cloud

PC-based control offers a central, open, and comprehensive machine control platform suitable for delivering highly efficient, IoT-based automation strategies.

It enables machines, plants, and production lines to be connected in ways that unlock their potential across entire processes. In this context, TwinCAT Cloud Engineering adds a new dimension by providing users with an easy means of engineering TwinCAT instances and controllers in the cloud.

With TwinCAT Cloud Engineering, users can instantiate and use existing TwinCAT engineering and runtime products directly in the cloud. Quick and easy to access from the Beckhoff website with a web browser and requiring no additional software, the new solution enables registered users to work with the TwinCAT development environment even from previously unsupported devices such as tablet PCs.

The TwinCAT Cloud Engineering instances generated by users can be connected to physical control hardware over a secure transport channel. Users not only have the features of the TwinCAT control architecture, but distributed collaboration support through a source control repository as well. For new users, having access to a TwinCAT Cloud Engineering instance in the cloud provides a suitable foundation on which to get to know the TwinCAT environment.

In addition, TwinCAT Cloud Engineering enables users to move their entire TwinCAT architecture to the cloud, the only difference versus a conventional TwinCAT environment being that they use a virtual machine instead of a local engineering PC. One advantage is that users need not get used to a new software environment but can simply continue to work in the same, familiar development environment. Another is that they do not have to install and maintain multiple software versions tailored to specific machine generations on their own PCs. Instead, users can run separate TwinCAT Cloud Engineering instances with different software versions, all of which they can access remotely whenever they need to. Project files are stored in a source code control repository which can be accessed directly from within TwinCAT Engineering.

Based on modern source control features, connecting to Git-based systems and managing automation projects on them is easy. The TwinCAT Multi-User functionality enables simple, seamless access to a source control repository without the need for special technical expertise. Here, TwinCAT Cloud Engineering enables multiple users to work together on a number of instances at the same time either by integrating a Git server into the instance or using a Git-based cloud service.