Working to improve production efficiency is at the heart of many manufacturing processes today. Within these improvements there are functions within the machine set up and practical steps within the planned maintenance that can save time and money. IDEC have introduced a new portable hand-held operator interface to help tackle these tasks.

With an increasing number of manufacturing solutions being “cell based”, the justification for a fixed operator interface touch panel for each machine in the cell becomes difficult due to cost and several other factors which we will consider below.

  1. Frequency of use of the operator touch panel
    With the traditional “fixed operator panel” on each machine, there can be several HMIs used in one manufacturing cell, these will be located in different key locations to ensure good visibility of that particular machine or process. Of course, these operator stations are needed to operate the machine however some are not used frequently.
  2. Fixed versus portable
    Where fixed installation HMIs are deployed it can be necessary for several operators to be required to check different set-up elements of the machine, each talking or communicating with each other prior to starting the machine. If you were to replace the fixed installation with a portable operator interface, which is lightweight and easy to carry around, then the machine operator can, more practically, make these visual checks on his own, subsequently recuing man hours and related costs.
  3. Ensuring operator safety, at all times
    On occasion it will be required for the machine operator or maintenance engineer to access, or work closer to, hazardous functions with the machine. During such times, safety of these personnel is paramount. When considering a portable device for machine calibration or adjusting system parameters, the hand-held device must have suitable safety functions embedded which can be interfaced into the machine safety control system to ensure it meets performance level from the required risk assessment. The HG1P pendent has a built-in “3-position enabling switch”, to allow the safe use & integration to the control system.

What benefits does this new hand-held pendent deliver to the user?

The first, and most likely, important aspect to mention about this pendent is the ease of configuration. Whereas IDEC’s earlier pendent devices (HG1U and HG1T versions), as with many of the competitors who have similar devices, the set up and “coding” is quite complex and requires a skilled software engineer to make the configuration to the users application. Now, the IDEC HG1P takes advantage of the intuitive Automation Organiser software (the same suite of software used to program the IDEC PLC and Touch Panel series) and can therefore be configured by using simple drag & drop for symbols, images & pictures, text and data. As a result, the HMI screen can be populated with the relevant data needed for each function of the machine and user. Keeping things as simple of sophisticated as needed.

Safe use and system integration

Safety is at the forefront of IDEC’s philosophy and as such the other features available to the operator of this device, apart from the super bright 4.3” touch panel and 12 tactile switches are an integrated E-Stop, a 2-position selector switch (both mounted on the front of the pendent) and 3-position enabling switch (mounted at the rear or the device) to ensure safe use when being operated within hazardous machine environments. Connectivity to the host control system can be made using Serial RS422/485 (supporting Modbus RTU) or Ethernet (supporting Modbus TCP). Many host drivers are embedded within the WindOI NV4 software, allowing for easy hassle-free connection to the IDEC range of PLCs as well as many 3rd party PLC manufacturers such as Siemens, Rockwell Automation, Mitsubishi and many others. And as mentioned early, the open protocol Modbus also allows the connection to PLC host or other devices such as variable speed drives (VSD).

It’s a question of Ergonomics

Weighing in at only 500g the unit is lightweight & compact delivering a pendent that is ergonomically designed for fatigue-free operation. Due to the portable nature of such a hand-held device the robustness is also a key point to mention and has been designed to withstand a drop test from heights up to 1.5 meters.

Final points to mention:

  • Power Supply: 24VDC
  • Display: 4.3”, 65K colours with LED backlight
  • Start-Up time: 1.5 seconds
  • Maximum Number of Screens: 3000
  • Programming Port: mini-USB
  • External Data storage media: via standard USB
  • IP rating: IP54


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