New device merges industrial-grade safety with HMI tablets
IDEC Corporation has developed the HT3P Safety Commander to address a growing need for users who want to incorporate modern tablets into their industrial automation systems, but also need to include hardwired emergency stop (e-stop) and associated functionality. The Safety Commander is designed to make it easy to hold a tablet securely in an industrial setting, for applications like machinery, robotics, automatic guided vehicles (AGVs) and production lines.
Tablets offer more
Traditionally, industrial operations personnel have needed to stand in front of fixed control panels, or use dedicated handheld touch panels or teaching pendants. Each method has its place, but for many applications, operators need much more detailed human-machine interface (HMI) capabilities at their fingertips, even as they move about the system. Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) initiatives and capable HMI options are now prompting designers to select mobile tablets as visualisation and control devices because of their convenience and productivity benefits.
Tablets offer high display resolutions, powerful computational abilities, extensive memory, Wi-Fi networking and Bluetooth wireless connectivity at a lower cost. Beyond HMI functionality, they can offer instant viewing of drawings and manuals, videoconferencing and report creation.
Adding industrial-grade safety to typical tablets
Recognising a need, IDEC has developed a device for adding industrial-grade safety to typical tablets. The Safety Commander is a handheld device with a slider and adjustable grippers to accommodate tablets ranging from 8- to 11-inch diagonal size. A tablet mounted into the Safety Commander get the benefits of:
- key-locking provisions to keep the tablet secure in the device;
- a sturdy and ergonomic hand grip and strap, for both right- and left-handed users, and an optional neck strap;
- the ability to rotate the tablet to any vertical/portrait or horizontal/landscape orientation using a patented design;
- a hardwired e-stop button with an LED indicator;
- a hardwired 3-position enable switch;
- a 5-metre cable and USB Type-C port for tablet charging;
- IP54 protection from water splashes and dirt, and drop resistance tested to 1.2 m.
In many cases, using a modern tablet avoids the need to locate a PC on the plant floor and provides an option to add IIoT functionality to industrial systems. Tablets can offer many more capabilities than dedicated industrial teaching pendants, which are expensive and can be difficult to use. However, users have struggled with custom but awkward designs for incorporating tablets with industrial automation, or they have compromised on safety considerations.
IDEC says that the HT3P Safety Commander overcomes these physical integration challenges. Using the Safety Commander, AGV and robotics designers can take advantage of the hold-to-run button to integrate tablets into their automation in compliance with ISO/IEC safety standards and requirements. Manufacturing and processing operations can provide the best visibility for their operators, while providing them with the flexibility to safely move about the equipment.
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