This blog is dedicated to open, interoperable manufacturing software and the coolest, latest and greatest things I see every day while conducting business under the banner of Inductive Automation.

Hello, my name is Steve Hechtman and I am president of Inductive Automation. During the span of one day there is more excitement, more discovery than I can possibly keep to myself. This blog is, therefore, my outlet. WARNING: This site is highly biased in favor of the most powerful, affordable manufacturing software in the world - Ignition by Inductive Automation!

Sony Google TV + Ignition Mobile = Awesome Status Marquee (cheap & easy)

Earlier this week, someone asked me to recommend a large screen monitor that could display realtime status information for packaging lines. It suddenly struck me, "what if the new Google TV could do it?" (40" Sony for $1000)

Over the Holidays I bought the 46" version ($1400) for my personal use. All I had to do was plug it into power and connect to my wifi which which took me all of five minutes (or you can use CAT 6 Ethernet). This amazing, totally integrated TV can browse the web, watch NetFlix, YouTube, and a lot more. But as I pondered the question of a good line status monitor I blurted out "maybe Google TV could do it!"

So I gave it a try when I got home last night. First, I launched our Internet hosted demo project but that didn't fly because Google TV doesn't have the JRE installed. But because it's based on Android OS, I decided to launch via our Mobile Module demo site and viola! What a beautiful display! Plug and play line status display in minutes!

There are a few things to know though: 1. You should turn off the screen saver. 2. turn off inactivity auto-power off. 3. configure your Ignition application for auto-login. 4. enter your Mobile Module's URL with a direct address to your application bypassing the project page. 5. bookmark the URL and create a shortcut key to it.

I got so excited at the prospect of a cheap & easy line status monitor that this morning I bought a 40" Google TV (at Best Buy) on my way into the office. We decided to mount a few of them around the office using Ignition and Mobile Module to show realtime departmental stats - things like support calls handled, successful sales call made, web demos delivered, and new counties sold to (by the way, that's over 50 now), etc.

It's amazing what a line status marquee can do for production and efficiency. When used to display realtime efficiency, I've heard numerous managers comment that efficiency goes up every time without even prompting. There's something about closing the loop with operators in realtime. And for years, people have been asking me for recommendations about the best way to create such marquees. I've had a variety of answers over the years, but none have even come close to the low cost and simplicity of this solution.

Why Ignition Offers the Best Mobile HMI / SCADA Capabilities

The Ignition Mobile Module will be released January 25! It can run on any modern mobile device including iPhone, iPad, iPod, Blackberry 6 or any Andriod-based device such as the Droid, DroidX or the HTC smartphone. Ignition Mobile is based on the HTML5 canvas element. It doesn't require the JRE or any sort of plug-in at all.

The finished product makes it look so simple, yet what we've done behind the scenes is unprecedented. Just look at the criteria we used in the development of this mighty module!

1. Must be able to run on any modern mobile device.
2. Must not require a plug-in.
3. Must be able to reuse existing applications.
4. Must not require duplicate mobile app development.
5. Must support zoom and pan.
6. Must be based on open standards.
7. Must be based on technology that holds the best promise for longevity.
8. Must be secure.
9. Must be simple to install module with near-zero configuration.

We've delivered on every point. Interestingly, we can't find another mobile package anywhere that does. And as always, with Inductive Automation software, you can launch unlimited free clients (limited only by your server capacity – not by licensing).

On January 25 you will be able to download it from our site and try it for yourself. You won't even have to give us your name (unless you want to).

Integrator Anxiety

I love talking to our sales guys because it gives me a chance to download to them some controls integrator perspectives which I think (and hope) could be valuable to them. I want them to have a real appreciation for an integrator's world (and what a challenging world it is!). When I do this I usually have huge realizations myself.

This happened to me today when I realized that the limitations of new software or hardware are usually only discovered after you decide to use it for the first time. So here you are, you've discovered a cool new piece of technology but you're up against the learning curve and are racing against the customer's schedule. And it's only at this time that you discover what the software or hardware can't do, and you're jumping through hoops to make it work. Talk about stress! It's almost enough to make you not want to adopt anything new. But it's also fatal not to be on the lookout for a better way to do things – because if you don't bring it to the table, somebody else will. I've been there a thousand times myself.

So I let our sales staff know this is what integrators are up against. There is real risk and stress related to new adoptions. Sometimes it's horrible. But I also coach them to relate that Ignition addresses all these pain points. It was totally developed from an integrator's perspective. We've taken away as many limitations and surprises as possible. Occasionally an integrator will push our software to the limit and report it to us – but man! – we're all over it right then. I know what it's like to be in the field or in development and you've made the leap and tried something new, and only then discover crazy limitations. The feeling of panic starts spreading through you. I hate it and don't want anyone to have to experience it with our software.

Personally, the more I use our software the more I discover what it can do, rather than what it can't do. And that's the way it should be.