Drives and Controls Magazine
Appliance distributes automation systems to mobile devices
Published:  26 June, 2014

The Californian automation manufacturer Opto 22 has announced a new version of its groov Box industrial appliance that hosts mobile operator interfaces for almost any automation system. Users simply connect their automation system to the Box, and then connect authorised mobile devices, via either a Web browser or an app interface. The mobile devices can then interact with the automation system in a secure and predefined manner.

The new industrially hardened Web-serving appliance (Groov-AR1) is faster and smaller than the previous version, and has a wider operating temperature range. It can be used to build, deploy and view scalable operator interfaces to monitor and control automation systems and associated components, equipment, and processes. The Web-based system needs no programming.

The Box allows operator interfaces to be viewed on almost any mobile device or computer, regardless of its manufacturer, operating system or screen size. These devices include smartphones, tablets, PCs and smart high-definition televisions.

The system is designed to augment existing HMIs and Scada systems by making important information available at any time and in any location. Two-way communication supports remote control by authorised and authenticated users.

The appliance uses the standardised OPC Unified Architecture (OPC UA) system to communicate securely with plant-floor devices such as PLCs, DCSs, PACs, databases and OPC-DA servers. As an OPC-UA client, groov can browse system tags from an OPC-UA server. HMI and Scada systems from suppliers including Rockwell Automation, GE and Siemens often include OPC-UA support, so users may already have an OPC-UA server installed and running. If not, these servers are available from several suppliers.

Opto 22's groov Box allows you to access almost any automation system via a mobile device

The compact groov Box has a solid-state fanless design with no moving parts. It incorporates a quad-core processor, gigabit Ethernet interfaces, and USB expansion for wireless LAN interfaces. It has an operating temperature range of 0–70°C.

A trial version of the software-only groov Server for Windows is available to download, allowing users to view their own system’s data on smartphones, tablets or other mobile devices.

The new groov Box has a US list price of $2,895.