After 15 years of active service, the Danish Navy needed to re-fit and modernize technology aboard the Absalon-class support ship. Logimatic and ThinManager make it happen.
Because of these things and much more, successful SIs learn how to work very efficiently. When a tool or system can be utilized to make projects more streamlined, SIs will seek to redeploy that tool or system on other projects to help overcome the obstacles mentioned above.
In the course of providing solutions to customers, Panacea Technologies not only found a great technology to improve their customer’s computing, they also found a way to create a new offering that has the potential to change the benchtop and small-scale reactor space for the better. That technology is ThinManager from Rockwell Automation.
The current state of the benchtop and small-scale bioreactor market allows limited interaction with the reactors. Some facilities may have hundreds of reactors that need to be controlled and monitored. The issue is that these systems often use proprietary HMIs that have rigid limitations on how many units can be connected. Currently, many operators simply have to deal with monitoring one or two bioreactors at a time from a fixed terminal.
“We once saw an operator running around with kitchen timers, paper notebooks, and a Microsoft Surface all while standing in front of the proprietary HMI,” said Will Aja of Panacea Technologies.
Besides making lab operations inefficient, these systems have no real way of controlling user access. Panacea Technologies decided they could apply ThinManager to help solve these issues. What they have developed is not only a solution, but a whole new product to offer to their pharmaceutical customers.
Panacea knew that mobile tablets would be an excellent way to overcome many of these issues. But seeking more than just a mobile connection, Panacea also wanted to provide access to more reactors at a time.
“We envisioned a product where scientists could move freely through the lab interacting with all the Bioreactors in a lab quickly with an intelligent system that would know who had access to what based on where they were. ThinManager fit the bill perfectly here, and we are taking advantage of almost every single feature ThinManager offers.”
When one of the world’s largest food and beverage companies wanted to open a new processing plant in Davenport, Iowa, they called on their partners at Rockwell Automation to help them design and implement a modern, connected workspace.
Since the network services group from Rockwell Automation was already managing the networks for the customer, Dan Neiner, Senior Engineer for Rockwell Automation, was involved with the project from the onset. The customer wanted to implement a thin client strategy for this new facility. The old plants had used PCs, and the customer wanted to move away from the time and expense necessary to keep PCs up and running in their production environments.
Because the solution required thin clients, Dan called on his systems integrator partners at Quantum Solutions. Quantum not only had thin client experience, but they had ThinManager experience. They were chosen by the customer to lead this deployment.
Thanh Phan with Quantum Solutions knew ThinManager was the right solution for their customer. It’s the only thin client system designed specifically for industrial application delivery and management.
The customer’s new plant is very large, coming in at almost 385,000 square feet with a staff of around 475 people. It was designed to replace an existing plant that had operated for decades. Quantum’s plan for deploying ThinManager and FactoryTalk View SE consisted of 3 Remote Desktop Servers and 2 ThinManager Servers that would manage and deliver content to 48 industrial thin clients.
The servers and applications that run this ThinManager solution are driven and supported from a Rockwell Automation Integrated Data Center (IDC). This packaged solution not only runs the applications that ThinManager delivers, but it also runs the network and is securely managed by Rockwell Automation technical support professionals.
Simplicity Equals Productivity
There is more than one reason the team from Quantum chose ThinManager to deploy FTView SE to the thin clients in this plant. “All the requested functionality that our customer needed for this deployment was already integrated into ThinManager in a simple way,” stated Phan. “Other convenient features such as TermMon ActiveX, virtual keyboard and simple touchscreen calibration solidified ThinManager as the final choice.”
Phan continued, “The TermMon ActiveX provided reboot and screen calibration functionality directly from the HMI. We were able to apply a script to the reboot process that ensured the thin client logged out of the server and restarted, etc. in a specific order. This also eliminated the need for physical keyboards for calibration. When a keyboard is needed, ThinManager’s hold-time configuration allows operators easy access to a virtual keyboard. We were able to configure the virtual keyboards to persist for only 5 seconds ensuring the keyboard never got in the way of other hold events on screen.”
Safety and Security are Built-In
Safety and Security were also important aspects of this food and beverage deployment. In addition to the built-in security of thin client hardware, Quantum deployed two of ThinManager’s most powerful features—AppLink and Shadowing.
“AppLink guaranteed that operator access at the thin client would be limited only to the HMI application. This ensured that the server could not be accessed from the thin client. This was an absolute requirement, by the customer, for this deployment,” said Phan.
“Shadowing allows us to troubleshoot issues remotely. Not only can we see what the operator sees, but we can take control of a terminal while an operator is standing by. Working in tandem with TermMon, we can remotely reboot a terminal after making updates to the HMI,” Phan explained.“We also took advantage of ThinManager on the server side. First, all of the users in ThinManager are synced with Active Directory so system access can still be managed by IT. Also, by using SmartSession, we are able to load balance all three HMI servers. This makes the entire thin client delivery method much more robust and improves availability in the event of server failover.”
This is a textbook example of how ThinManager benefits systems integrators by providing solutions designed for specifically the industrial manufacturing customers they serve. We asked Thanh Phan if Quantum planned to deploy ThinManager for future customer thin client deployments.
“Absolutely!” Phan replied. “While the program itself is straightforward, easy to learn, and takes little time to set up—the time saved and travel expenses avoided as a result of allowing engineers to remote in to a plant’s system and solve problems without having to appear on site is really what puts ThinManager above the other platforms we have used.’
“As an example,” Phan continued,”after our initial on-site setup, the customer experienced small problems that we were able to solve in 15-30 minutes, over the phone, using the Shadow and TermMon ActiveX features. If these features were not readily available, it could have meant a trip out to the customer, resulting in additional travel costs that would otherwise be unnecessary. At the very least, it would have resulted in an additional loss of time.’
“While instances like those listed above do not occur on a frequent basis,” Phan admitted,”when the customer does happen to have a problem, ThinManager’s features keep it from becoming an expensive one.”
Required deployment for new plant startup with following customer requests:
- 48 thin clients
- Failover for applications
- Restrictions on operator access to servers
- Simple thin client replacement in event of hardware failure
Fit for ThinManager:
- All requested functionality already integrated into ThinManager
- Other convenient features (such as TermMon ActiveX, virtual keyboard, simple screen calibration) solidified ThinManager as the final choice
Quantum readily agreed to ThinManager being used as the platform of choice for several reasons:
With ThinManager, seeing is believing. In fact, with all the amazing capability packed in to ThinManager, you =&0=& to see it to believe it. Luckily, we’ve got you covered!
Most months of the year, some of our crew is on the road in North America and Europe to show live what ThinManager can do. There is no cost to attend so there is really no excuse not to. Visit the Roadshow Page for details.
We offer in-depth training of ThinManager just north of Atlanta, GA at our headquarters many times a year. We also offer scheduled Systems Integrator training in cities around North America. There is no better way to truly get your hands dirty and learn ThinManager like a pro. See our Training Schedule.
Interested in learning about ThinManager from the comfort of your desk? Take a look at ThinManager TV and the rest of our website to watch videos at your leisure. There you can find walk through webinars, interesting ThinManager facts, and even a video or two that are just fun.
No matter how you get your eyes on ThinManager, we know you will leave impressed. Check it out today.
Most all of us now carry small personal computers (in the form of smart phones) in our pockets, and a day without using the internet doesn’t exist. Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality hardware are predicted to become main stream next year while many already use a digital personal assistant like Siri or Amazon Echo.
Manufacturers were once the leaders in “state of the art” technology. Today, many are using dated hardware and not thinking forward or embracing the possibilities of today’s technology.
Keeping up with technology is no easy task. We work feverishly to decide what to integrate into ThinManager to help our customers stay innovative and in the forefront of productive possibility.
We encourage you to come see ThinManager and Relevance in action at no cost to you. We are scheduling live roadshow demonstrations all over the U.S. Contact your local ThinManager reseller to get registered or to request a stop near you.
As a “tip of the cap” to all those in this great industry, we have put together a video about ThinManager in a sit down interview with ACP’s CEO, Matt Crandell, asking where it all started, and where it is going. ThinManager is the global leader in thin client management and industrial mobility. Without our partners and customers in the manufacturing industry, we simply would not be where we are today.
To download and try ThinManager free for 30 days, please click the link below. Thank you to all that support us and the manufacturing industry. Happy Manufacturing Day!
Location resolvers in Relevance are used to define locations throughout your plant. Examples of defined locations can be as broad as the entire network, a tethered thin client terminal, or a defined “geo-fenced” area. Relevance uses technologies such as Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS, NFC and QR Codes to let administrators define an unlimited number of locations.
With your locations defined, you can now deliver applications and content based on location to any number of modern mobile devices such as tablets and smart phones.
- Transfer – An authenticated user on a mobile device can transfer the content from a tethered terminal to their mobile device. When finished they can return it or have it return if the user leaves the “geo-fenced” location defined by the ThinManager Administrator.
- Clone – An authenticated user with high level or “Supervisor” access can receive content on their tablet cloned from each line as they pass between defined locations allowing them to easily monitor statuses and reports as they supervise.
IP Camera use, especially in the last 5 years, has given way to much more. A new focus in a modern production environment is “increased visualization”. Increasing visualization can spawn from anything that makes you more productive by way of seeing more information. The use of cameras allows you to have an in-depth feel for an environment, not just a view of the screen at the terminal.
Strategic placement of cameras in the environment can give you a view of the true environmental condition of that area. It will allow you to see the terminal and line, not just watch what is happening on screen.
Seeing what is happening in the true environment at a given moment can add great value. Is the operator at their station? Is there a blockage in the production line? These can be easily answered if you have incorporated IP Cameras in the environment. ThinManager makes this a piece of cake.
Cameras can be connected to your network, plugged straight in to your terminal thin client or set up on a stand alone network. The best set up will depend on a combination of the hardware available to you and the bandwidth at your disposal.
Once a camera is found on your network, it can be added as an overlay or stand alone display client to any terminal set up in ThinManager. Virtual visibility with IP Cameras in your production environment is a low cost but high reward way to increase visualization, safety and productivity.
Want to hear more about ThinManager and exactly what ThinManager is, check out What is ThinManager.
Without NLA a user connects to the Terminal Server/Remote Desktop Server and the Terminal Server / Remote Desktop Server launches the Windows Login screen. This uses some resources and has the potential of DOS attacks.
The NLA uses credentials on the client to authenticate before starting the session, saving resources.
ThinManager supports NLA starting with Firmware 7.1.113 inside of the TermPack 7.1.3 package released on 6/26/2015.
Previous versions of firmware did not support NLA and required that the Allow connections only from computers running Remote Desktop with Network Level Authentication setting to be turned =&2=&.
This setting can now be turned on to allow ThinManager thin clients to authenticate using the NLA.
If a terminal has a valid Windows account entered in its configuration for an automatic login then the client will pass that info through NLA to authenticate and the client will login and start a session without the operator noticing.
If a terminal does not have a valid Windows account entered in its configuration for a manual login then a NLA login screen will be displayed requiring a valid user account and password. This gets passed to the Terminal Server/RDS for the login.
A Windows Security/Login window is never displayed.