September 17, 2013 by Jeremy Pollard
Well the HMI marketplace may have taken another turn again. We have always had definite purpose devices in the past, but in recent years the industry has moved away from that to a more flexible can-do-anything approach.
Opto22 has returned to the definite purpose side of automation by introducing “Groov.”
Groov is a special-purpose hardware solution that has all of the normal and standard networking technology you would expect.
While it isn’t DIN-rail mountable, the compact packaging shouldn’t create any issues. Right now it uses Opto’s SnapPac as a bridge to other devices and networks.
To access the data in Groov and the connected devices to build out an HMI, all you need is a web browser. For one cost you have no limits on users, tags, screens, pages, or anything.
There is no learning curve to install anything. It’s all there—development, user control and runtime, along with drivers.
Runtime display is scaled depending on the device you are using. Android, Apple and all other devices have no trouble displaying the resulting pages without any fiddling from the developer.
Because Groov is a closed system, the normal things that some do with HMIs aren’t there. There is no scripting, historian, long time line trending, nor the ability to create your own anything.
There are many gadgets available which include most of the common interface devices, such as command buttons, image display, lights, etc. Just enough to get any application started.
The use of right-click is not ‘normal’ since you are working in a browser. The right-click action gets trapped by the browser so most actions in Groov use a single left-click.
Left clicking on a tag gives you the options on the gadgets you can use with the data type for that tag. When you pick the gadget, the tag is automatically associated with it, and once you configure the tag data, you are done.
While I think there are various benefits with Groov, it falls a bit short for serious HMI applications, like a water treatment facility. But I’m pretty sure that wasn’t the design criteria. There has always been confusion over HMI and SCADA. Groov is an HMI.
The deal breaker for me is the lack of drivers for the real world. I don’t want to have to use a SnapPac, but I don’t have a choice….. right now.
Remember, OPC is coming.
Vendor – Opto22
Product – Groov HMI Appliance
Cost: $1995.00 USD
This column originally appeared in the September 2013 issue of Manufacturing AUTOMATION.