Heavy Metal, Thin Technology

RoviSysWhen you think of American industry, one of the first things that comes to mind is steel. Every skyscraper, bridge, rail line, automobile, etc. incorporates steel because its strength is unmatched when it comes to supporting the weight, wear and tear that these applications require.

Steel’s history is part of American history. Although the industry has changed over the years, the product is still a basic building block for anything durable that humans choose to construct. One of Rovisys’s largest customers is a part of that history and is now the largest steel company in the world. When they wanted to add thin client computing to their Cleveland Works site, they chose ThinManager and ThinManager-Ready thin clients for the job.

It wasn’t by chance that ThinManager was selected. The Senior Automation Engineer for the large steel producer, and Noah Hamilton with RoviSys knew they would need a flexible, yet powerful tool to turn one of the oldest power generation stations in the country into a state-of-the-art computer-controlled powerhouse.

The steel maker needed to be able to easily integrate their HMI with a high availability computer network. They also needed hardware that could withstand the harsh environment of rolled steel production.

However RoviSys needed to be able to get ThinManager up and running with existing hardware until thin clients could be introduced. Luckily they were able to use the WinTMC feature in ThinManager to setup the initial infrastructure with PCs they already used. WinTMC allowed them to install a simple executable onto the PCs and use ThinManager to deliver apps to that hardware until the thin clients were purchased and put into place for production.

Noah Hamilton, Sr. Engineer at RoviSys, was also familiar with many of the other features that ThinManager brought to the table. By taking advantage of the AppLink feature, the steel maker was able to deliver only the application that the plant floor operators needed at the terminals they worked on. This prevented access to other things at the workstation like a desktop. They also setup Instant Failover for the thin clients so that the applications delivered to the operators would always be available, even if a server lost its connection or experienced a system failure.

Hamilton also shared how RoviSys and the steel maker are working on setting up a centralized visualization center within the office space at the plant. “The idea is to use an Arista thin client capable of supporting up to five monitors. It will support a single 32” monitor surrounded by four Hope touchscreens to allow maintenance engineers from the utilities team to monitor the plant from a single unified workspace. When combined with the Shadowing feature in ThinManager, plant floor operators can call the controls engineers and have them shadow the terminal they are working on to resolve production issues in real time.”

Hamilton mentioned more future plans to roll out ThinManager’s plant floor mobility solution, Relevance. “When you run a five square mile large facility, mobility can make a big difference in productivity and safety. “ The plan is to equip process managers with 4G enabled tablets that allow them to view the process from anywhere on site. “We keep rolling out more and more ThinManager at the mill,” Hamilton stated. “ThinManager makes everything we do easier to manage.”


Tom Jordan

Marketing Lead for ThinManager - A Rockwell Automation Technology