Friday, September 30, 2016

A revolution long overdue

Remember 1987? For the first time we met Homer Simpson and his madcap family and U2 had just reached superstar status blitzing the charts with their smash hit

With or Without You. The most memorable day though had to be Monday the 19th day of October, the largest one-day stock market crash in history. In one day Wall Street plummeted 508 points, $500 billion vanishing from its value. For millions of people around the world Black Monday defined their 1987. 

But for one visionary and his tech wizard friend the stock market crash had little impact, they had nothing to lose. Their days were defined by the tell tale signs of a typical start up. Ambitious ideas and sixteen-hours straight, with a good square meal and a good night sleep, pure indulgence.

Their 1987 was defined by their ground breaking software and the birth of an HMI revolution.

When first released in 1989 InTouch was demonstrably different and its advertising outrageous. In a world of brown and grey the logo was teal and the print ads featuring lingerie some labelled as scandalous. Predictably it polarised opinion. The sceptics mocked the hype and hung back with the big names. The believers embraced the fresh new name offering a simpler way and a new ideal.

Straight from the box InTouch was easy to use. Instead of 22 installation discs there were only two.

Powered by the new Microsoft Windows technology the leap in graphics was extraordinary. But it wasn’t just the brilliant graphics; InTouch also transformed the project workflow. As you drew your mimics you created your tags.

InTouch also provided a safe programming environment by managing many of the complexities for you. You could just tick a box and add a feature. Days became hours.

In 1987 these radical concepts were a paradigm shift that was long overdue and the reason Wonderware became one of the fastest growing software companies in the US during the early 1990s.

And while much has changed since 1987 much has stayed the same. The old hardwired mimic panels with flashing lights have gone but we’re still programming our hardware the same old way. Each controller, HMI, I/O and intelligent module is still configured in isolation where one can’t possibly know about the other. And we’re still writing custom code on every project to manage one of the most common pieces of equipment on the factory floor, a simple pump.

For over 30 years this custom development has remained an industry norm but it’s not efficient, competitive or sustainable, particularly in 2016. Our systems are networked and sophisticated. Our livelihood depends on our ability to manage energy, raw materials, people, equipment, maintenance and warehousing, across the globe. The automation revolution is long overdue.

Imagine a configuration tool that is agile enough to program anything from Lego to nuclear power, a single tool that can program your IoT embedded controller, RTU, PLC or DCS.

Imagine a configuration tool that banishes the nightmare of synchronizing changes. When you make a change in one place all applications are effortlessly updated.

Imagine a configuration tool that lets everyone contribute their own specialist knowledge to create a library of components. Where you can check a box to extend their functionality. Where you can assemble them with a single intelligent connection. Where integrated version management allows their evolution as your requirements change. Where the knowledge for their re-use is captured via an inbuilt wiki.

Imagine a configuration tool that provides the freedom and power to optimise your process without disruption. A tool that can determine when it is safe to deploy a change.

Imagine the freedom of brand neutrality. The ability to choose the vendor that best suits your requirements. And a library that continues to work with emerging technology from any vendor.

Imagine a configuration tool that delivers real business value. A tool that drives for maximum performance, lowers your costs, increases your agility and reduces your risks.

Start believing.

In 1987 when one visionary and his tech wizard friend started an HMI revolution with a radical new product called InTouch, it became the world’s number one HMI and has been so for the past 25 years.

And now in 2016, Wonderware is again starting a new revolution; this time it’s an automation revolution. 

A blog post written by Fiona Williams.

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