Parker CTC Releases New InteractX With Powerful Tools

December 042003
Parker CTC Releases New InteractX With Powerful Tools
Version 1.8 offers additional features for Level 2 HMI solutions

Milford, Ohio (December 1, 2003) — Parker Automaton-CTC announces the release of InteractXä version 1.8, a new iteration of its OEM-friendly HMI system. InteractX software runs in Windows® on any office or industrial PC. Designed specifically for machine control and OEM needs –particularly in reliability, ease of application, and reduced long-term costs of ownership – InteractX offers the most advanced graphics of any Windows product.

With this latest version, InteractX offers additional features for Level 2 HMI platforms, which provides centralized logging and storing of data from the factory processes for real-time or future analysis. There is no cost for current InteractX customers to upgrade from 1.7 to 1.8, and users will find upgrading to 1.8 is easy with the installation wizard.

"One of the key features of this new release is the InteractX-to-InteractX networking,” said Jerry Koch, CTC Product Manager. “This is a real-time data exchange using TCP/IP communications and does not require DCOM; instead, it uses a CTC-written protocol over TCP/IP, resulting in an easy exchange of data from one system to another.”

Another key feature is the InteractX’s networked OPC Client/Server capability. “This allows the software to exchange real-time data with the OPC Client and the OPC Server,” explains Koch. “The exchange occurs not only on the local system – the same system as the InteractX run time – but also across the network to another PC, even if InteractX is not installed on it.”

Other InteractX 1.8 features include a networked OPC Client/Server, which supports DCOM; an Interact application import, with which users can take an existing Interact application and import directly into InteractX to minimize downtime; and performance enhancements to increase the application speed.

CTC has lowered application costs by providing unlimited tags, which can save up to $1000 and more on many installations. This compares with the practice of providing limited tags for a basic Windows application and assessing hidden costs for additional tags, Koch pointed out. In some cases, the incremental costs for tags and communications drivers can approach the original cost for the software, he noted.

Also included with InteractX are more than 45 standard communications drivers and an OPC (OLE for Process Control) interface. “We don't think you should charge for drivers and extra tags,” said Koch. “We think these should be part of the standard product, part of the application essentials. We wanted to provide our customers with the full functionality needed to create an HMI application – one software package scalable to a whole range of runtime systems.”

InteractX runs on Windows98/2000/NT/XP and Embedded NT/XP operating systems. The two Embedded operating system options will provide full Windows functionality with a smaller software footprint that can run on today’s larger-capacity Compact FLASH disks. “Now you can run true Windows applications without rotating storage media that reduces system reliability in the rigors of production,” notes Koch. “We’ve designed our Windows HMI software for affordable platforms that address machine builder’s functional requirements, without having to deal with system features they don't need – dragging them into the IT world.”

CTC's software developers gave InteractX the industry's most advanced and powerful graphics — vector-based, scaleable, 3-D shaded objects. “We've applied the latest graphic technology to HMI, while greatly simplifying the graphics development environment,” says Koch. “With InteractX, OEMs can not only meet market demand, but gain a competitive advantage. The graphics let them give the machine's operator interface a high-tech feel and functionality. The image quality allows graphics to be scaled to larger screen sizes and still look great, while keeping the file sizes small.”

Concurrent with InteractX development, CTC upgraded its new PX Series PowerStation workstations to provide a bundled HMI solution for users who want higher Windows functionality along with a choice of 10”, 12”, 15” or 18” high-resolution touchscreen displays. Unique among Windows HMI developers, CTC offers InteractX bundled into hardware/software solutions, specifically engineered for industrial applications. “This bundling lets OEMs avoid the integration issues with hardware and software products from different companies, the typical practice until now with Windows HMI,” he stated.

InteractX complements CTC’s original INTERACT HMI software, installed in thousands of applications around the world, said Koch. CTC will continue offering the original INTERACT package, especially targeting the dedicated HMI marketplace. “This combination lets OEMs tailor control solutions across the entire range of machine applications from one source and avoid the complexity of multiple suppliers,” he explained.

CTC can provide OEMs (and their customers) with full range of Windows HMI platform choices, including hard drive storage with Windows 98//2000/NT/XP systems or Compact FLASH non-rotating storage with Embedded NT/XP operating systems. A unique dual Compact Flash design on these PowerStations allows Embedded NT/XP to run on an internal Compact FLASH drive, while an external Compact FLASH makes it easy to “swap out” InteractX application files. Separating the operating system from the applications offers several advantages, according to Koch. It allows easy maintenance, upgrade and replacement of the operating system by simply changing the internal Compact FLASH card. This flexibility will enable CTC customers to accommodate new operating system developments, even beyond Windows in the future, stressed Koch.

About CTC Parker
Since 1980, CTC has been designing, manufacturing, and marketing both hardware and software to provide factory-floor, machine-operator-interface solutions for automation projects worldwide. In 1998, CTC became a unit of the Parker Hannifin Corporation (NYSE:PH), Cleveland, Ohio. With annual sales exceeding $6 billion, Parker Hannifin is the world's leading diversified manufacturer of motion and control technologies and systems, providing precision-engineered solutions for a wide variety of commercial, mobile, industrial and aerospace markets. For more information on Interact or InteractX HMI, as well as other factory floor automation solutions, contact: Parker Automation-CTC, 50 W. TechneCenter Drive, Milford, OH 45150. Phone: 513-831-2340. Fax: 513-831-5042. Internet: www.ctcusa.com.
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