Drives and Controls Magazine

Keep your PLC data in hand

01 August, 2000

Keep your PLC data in hand

You can now control and monitor PLCs from a pocket-sized terminal using software developed by a US firm, Narly Software. The pocketHMI software, which runs on the popular Palm Pilot handheld computer, can be used to troubleshoot, change setpoints, read and write data, and monitor the operations of PLCs from Schneider, Allen-Bradley, Mitsubishi, Siemens, Omron, GE Fanuc and PLC Direct. Other versions are planned.

The Palm Pilot is connected to the PLC by a serial link, giving an immediate picture of what is happening inside the controller. Up to four data points can be monitored simultaneously. Data can be entered using the Palm Pilot`s touch-sensitive screen that recognises handwriting.

Spreadsheet functions can store addresses and perform scaling calculations, while a memo function can be used to record device settings, and timer and PID values. Help screens are provided.

Software Toolbox sees the Palm Pilot as a convenient, low-cost, off-the-shelf alternative to expensive, bulky laptop computers. The battery-powered device, measuring 120mm by 80mm by 15mm, fits into a shirt pocket.

UK distributor PBE Systems suggests that OEMs could mount the Palm Pilots on their machines to provide a cost-effective alternative to dedicated HMIs.