ThinManager Q & A with Matrix Technologies

Here at ACP we are constantly speaking to customers and integrators about their experiences with the ThinManager Platform so we can continue to improve our product and provide better service.  Recently, we had an opportunity to speak with Mike Dunstan from Matrix Technologies, Inc. to discuss their ongoing ThinManager deployment for a leading food manufacturer in North America.


Q- How many of their facilities have you performed services as an integrator?

A- Five total.  Four in America and one in Canada.


Q- What does the basic network architecture look like in the facilities?

A- One of the location’s process areas consists of three Terminal Servers and twenty-eight thin clients.  There are three Terminal Servers communicating with three I/O Terminal Servers.  To reduce network traffic with the PLCs each I/O server is designated the primary communication link with certain PLCs and secondary/failover for other PLCs.   The thin client HMI applications utilize Wonderware InTouch I/O redundancy/failover.   The facility is also running ThinManager with failover and redundancy to provide additional layers of security.  Other facilities have similar implementations.


Q- What HMI and Software versions are running and managing the network?

A- Wonderware InTouch 9.5 by Invensys and ThinManager 4.


Q- How many applications does the network deliver?

A- We have a total of twenty-three applications running. Most of them are running on two terminals so we can deliver them to a platform level thin client and a floor level thin client as needed.  When possible I prefer to have an application looking at primarily one PLC, rather than having the HMI control many different areas.  Here, the shared applications were for one blending pod so it is easy to deliver the three specific HMI applications and deliver them through five dedicated thin clients.


Q- What are the advantages to using a ThinManager thin client platform as opposed to a standard PC based network?

A- With PCs, we would have to constantly copy changes, move files, and keep upgrading the OS and the applications at each machine.  With the ThinManager solution allowing the user to disable and reset sessions after applying a single upgrade to the ThinServer it only takes  about one-quarter of the time to do the same amount of work.  It is a much friendlier and simple process than trying to manage all the clients with Terminal Services alone.


Q- Which ThinManager feature do you use most often?

A- Definitely Shadowing.  It is so easy now to manage thin clients on the floor from the control room or our office instead of having to go to the individual clients to review their operation.  It makes development and testing a snap.  All that is needed is a single client and a couple of monitors instead of multiple computers piled in the control room.


Q- Are there any plans to expand ThinManager functionality in the facilities?

A- We have been discussing the addition of troubleshooting stations where we could deploy MultiMonitor and MultiSession for PLC programming and still be able to monitor the HMI.



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Tom Jordan

Marketing Lead for ThinManager - A Rockwell Automation Technology