CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA -- GE Fanuc Intelligent Platforms, a unit of GE Enterprise Solutions, is building on a track record of success and continual enhancements within its HMI/SCADA portfolio with the announcement of Proficy HMI/SCADA—iFIX 5.0. A superior SCADA solution, this release transitions iFIX into a next-generation visualization, control, and real-time information-management solution, enabling users to drive better analytics and leverage more reliability, flexibility, and scalability across the enterprise.
"iFIX 5.0 is packed with innovative new features and advanced capabilities, delivering value across multiple industries, including pharmaceuticals, water, and oil and gas," said Claire Cerrato, Director of GE Fanuc's Proficy HMI/SCADA Software Products. "Our new look and feel enables companies to be more efficient in their configurations. Enhanced failover provides increased reliability. And charting and historian integration offer more analytic tools than ever before. This new software release truly provides a foundation of agile, advanced, and ultra-reliable technology that users can trust to ensure their long-term success."
iFIX 5.0 comes with a completely new Look 'N' Feel for Workspace and Database Manager, based on the Microsoft Fluent User Interface (UI) technology. The new UI follows the Ribbon Bar concept, which allows users to easily access tools during application development and configure Quick Access Toolbars to access frequently used tools. The new UI organizes all the configuration tools in the form of Galleries that provide a view of all available options on the go and reduces the user's time to access.
iFIX 5.0 is operating-system neutral, meaning that users operating on Microsoft XP to Vista can take advantage of the upgraded features of the software. This capability reinforces the Proficy open-and-layered commitment that GE Fanuc has subscribed to for many years.
In addition, companies can increase reliability with iFIX 5.0's new and Enhanced Failover feature. This capability enables users to synchronize real-time data, every aspect of the tag database, and alarms across the entire network. It is easy to configure and allows prioritization of networks for data synchronization and separation of real-time SCADA networks from the data synchronization network to boost performance.
"Plants require a single version of the truth, which can only be achieved if synchronized real-time data is provided to operators in the control room, as well as to production management systems," according to Craig Resnick, Research Director, ARC Advisory Group. "With an increasing demand for PACs running HMI/SCADA software in process applications, redundancy and failover-protection capabilities become critically important features that end users demand for these platforms. It appears that the design of iFIX 5.0 will be suitable for deployment in these applications that require redundancy, failover protection, and synchronized real-time data."
"This is a major release of iFIX and has received a tremendous amount of positive feedback throughout its development and its Beta program," said Prasad Pai, GE Fanuc's iFIX Product Manager. "The product includes many voice-of-customer requests, which have translated into major features and minor enhancements. The important ones include alarm-management enhancements, easier to configure UI for network and alarm filters, and event-trapping support for iFIX's VBA scripting commands."
True Data Management Solution
iFIX 5.0 introduces a new state-of-the-art charting tool that expands the software's capability to display x-bar, r-bar, s-bar, histogram, and logarithmic charts, in addition to the more traditional real-time and historical charts. With support for advanced CGI graphics and a wide range of plotting types such as bar, area, spline, and best-fit curves, the new charting tool enables configuration of different line and display styles. Ideal for GE Fanuc's Proficy Historian product, this new tool implements an advanced algorithm to fetch and plot data efficiently, boosting the overall system performance.
"iFIX 5.0 forms a powerful combination with GE Fanuc's Proficy Historian," said Pai. "The two products provide users with a true real-time data-management solution, and this new release of iFIX provides a one-time configuration capability for iFIX and Proficy Historian databases. The two products are now tightly integrated to synchronize database settings, therefore reducing the maintenance of product configurations."
In addition to configuration, iFIX 5.0 now enables users to read time-stamped data into their process graphics from Proficy Historian, using iFIX's standard Datalink, providing easy accessibility to historical data in context to the real-time data. iFIX's unique VisiconX tools now have an added capability of connecting directly to Proficy Historian tables for display of data grids into graphics without configuring complex SQL queries.
Alarm management is one of the most critical aspects of a HMI/SCADA system, and, iFIX 5.0 introduces new tools to filter alarms, display alarms, and notify the users of alarm escalations. iFIX 5.0 introduces an alarm escalation feature to generate an event if the severity of a particular alarm has increased, improving notification about process abnormalities.
Another enhancement to the new software comes in the form of more than 500 pre-built graphic objects called Dynamos, which include ISA-specific symbols. These Dynamos support versioning to track any changes made to the master Dynamos. All objects support dynamic linking, so users can update graphics with any changes made to the master Dynamo object. Because the Dynamos have been built natively in iFIX, they are extremely scalable and support animations.
Other features of iFIX 5.0 include:
- Discover and auto configuration, which allows users to read PLC configurations from its PLC file and configure the driver, database, and Proficy Historian from one location in one single effort. iFIX 5.0's discover and auto configuration tool now supports Rockwell's RSLogix 5/500 for PLC5, SLC 500, and Micrologix controllers; Siemens Step 7 for the S7 controllers; and the generic OPC Client driver for configuring third-party device servers.
- Graphic thumbnail support—iFIX 5.0 now supports the thumbnail view of its graphics in Windows Explorer. This support has also been extended into the iFIX workspace, where users can view snapshots of their graphics as they move the mouse over the graphic names.
- Custom scaling for analog data within database tags—iFIX 5.0 further enhances the product's SCADA capability by introducing custom-scaling capability for analog tags within the database blocks. This will allow users to configure one tag, which reads in their nonstandard raw values and outputs an EGU specific value, which the user desires.
- Loadable blocks, which are specialized database blocks that have been created over the years, based on customer requirements and input. Traditionally, these blocks are available on GE Fanuc's support Web site for download and use. However, iFIX 5.0 will include all these blocks on the product CD, making it readily available for the users and expanding its already powerful database offering. For existing users, this will provide a seamless upgrade, and for new customers, it will add more power to their database configurations.
"iFIX has been delivering solutions to customers in nearly every industry and every corner of the globe for decades," said Claire Cerrato. "And, GE Fanuc has continued to invest heavily in the updates and improvements that keep iFIX delivering on what our customers need the most, even as their businesses have changed over that time."
About GE Fanuc
GE Fanuc Intelligent Platforms, a joint venture between General Electric and Fanuc Ltd. of Japan, is a high-performance technology company and a global provider of hardware, software, services, expertise, and experience in automation and embedded computing, with products employed in virtually every industry, including manufacturing automation, defense, automotive, telecommunications, healthcare, and aerospace. GE Fanuc Intelligent Platforms is a worldwide company headquartered in Charlottesville, VA, and is part of GE Enterprise Solutions.