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QuickPanel+ Selection Guide

QuickPanel+ is the newest next generation operator interface produced by GE Automation, which is now owned by Emerson Automation as of 1st February, 2009. The QuickPanel+ is a multifunctional device which conveys data and insight, in a smarter, easier and faster way than ever before; it is an improvement of the older QuickPanel. It integrates process control, process visualization, and it has an option for running an embedded data historian. This simplifies its integration into larger machines and improves real-time control of plant systems. So, the QuickPanel+ Operator Interface ceases to be just a portal, but acts as a strategic bridge for running and understanding your system. 

Functionality

As an operator interface, the QuickPanel+ is an all-in-one microcomputer designed on the basis of an Advanced RISC Machines (ARM) core microprocessor. This ARM microprocessor is coupled with a high-resolution touch-screen which acts as the Human Machine Interface (HMI), enhanced with a variety of communication channels. Hence, through the QuickPanel+ communications ports one can connect to most industrial machines and equipment. The QuickPanel+ is also fitted with various types of memory, allowing you to run heavy-duty applications.  

For instance, a 512MB section of Dynamic Random-Access Memory (DRAM) is divided between the application memory, operating system and an object store. Also, a 256MB non-volatile flash memory, which acts as a virtual hard-drive, is split between the continuous storage for most application programs and the operating system. For data storage, the QuickPanel+ is equipped with a retentive memory consisting of a 512KB Battery Backed Static Random-Access Memory (BB-SRAM), which will protect your valuable data in case of a sudden power failure.

To be successful in a result-driven world, industries must be increasingly connected as well as faster and leaner. With the QuickPanel+ being a powerful all-in-one single device consisting of an Operating Interface (OI), a collection engine for a data Historian, PLC process-controller, and a gateway to other plant-wide systems, the use of this OI will allow you to streamline your plant systems. The operator interface (OI) provides a seamless integrated platform for your control. In short, the QuickPanel+ automation architecture brings equipment interfaces into the rapidly evolving Industrial Internet age enabling smarter operation, new levels of productivity and user experience; overall redefining human interactions with machines. 

Selection Criteria

When selecting the best QuickPanel+ to suit your specific applications, here are the key features to look out for: 

Software Specifications

a) Operating Software

The QuickPanel+ runs on Microsoft Windows Embedded Compact 7 operating system (OS). Thus, when buying a QuickPanel+ you should be provided with a full 32-bit MS Windows 7 O/S, which is normally stored in a flash disk. The O/S should execute automatically when copied to a block of Dynamic Random-Access Memory (DRAM), following rest or powerup of the QuickPanel+. The Windows 7 Compact provides a reliable and secure operating system which meets today’s high-end IT requirements. 

b) Storage Manager

The Storage Manager is a Microsoft product which is accessed from the Control Panel folder, for which online assistance from Microsoft team is available. Your QuickPanel+ should be equipped with a storage manager that can be used to format or repair corrupted or lost data volumes existing in USB Flash Keys, SD Card or Battery-Backed SRAM(BB-SRAM). It is important to note that the Storage Manager may not be able to repair data volumes that exist in the main flash file system of the QuickPanel+, hence, this is not a major requirement. 

c) Backup Utility

Since the QuickPanel+ is not powered by a battery, it should have a backup utility feature that saves changes made to the Desktop or Windows Registry to Flash Memory. Select a QuickPanel+ whose backup utility can perform the following functions: 

  • Run Backup before shutting down the QuickPanel plus, and whenever configuration changes are made to the installed applications or operating system 
  • Store the Windows Compact 7 registry in the Flash Memory, inclusive of any settings of the control panel 
  • Store any additions or changes made to ‘\Windows’ subtree of the main the file system in the Flash Memory’s user block 

d) HTTP Server

The QuickPanel+ supports standard-RFC 2616, should include the HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) server, which supports operations of non-secure port 80. Also, the QuickPanel+ Setup Tool should be able to configure the HTTP server as it not enabled by default and once enabled a program will run in the background allowing clients to connect.  

e) SNTP Server

The QuickPanel+ should support Simple Network Time Protocol (SNTP) server version 4 for OSI (Open Systems Interconnection), IPv6 and IPv4. The STNP included should support the operation of non-secure UDP (User Datagram Protocol) port 123. Like HTTP server, the STNP server is not enabled by default, and is configured with the QuickPanel+ Setup Tool. 

f) FTP Server

The QuickPanel+ supports standard-RFC 959, should include the File Transfer Protocol (FTP) server.  The FTP server selected should be based on Secure Shell (SSH) rather than Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), and it does not support implicit FTPS or Support Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) as they use different ports. Also, the included FTP server should support a maximum of ten client connections, and it should be capable of terminating sessions which are idle sessions for 5 minutes. Likewise, FTP server is not enabled by default, and it is configured with the QuickPanel+ Setup Tool. 

g) Battery Life Prediction

The QuickPanel+   Operator Interface should be programmed to show the estimated service life of the inbuilt battery. To know whether the battery is present or not, check if the QuickPanel+ Battery Status tab is showing battery life prediction. But the current time must be set on the QuickPanel+, for the device to display the battery service life prediction.  

h) VNC Server

The presence of a Virtual Network Computing (VNC) server in a QuickPanel+ is very essential. As to connect your QuickPanel+ Operator Interface remotely and visually to a smartphone or a laptop you need a VNC server which provides the needed connectivity via the remote VNC Viewers. During the startup of the QuickPanel+ the VNC server is launched automatically, but it can also be launched manually from the Launch Application. 

The configuration of the Enhanced Security Feature on the QuickPanel+ determines the authentication of the VNC server. Hence, ensure the QuickPanel+ you choose has an enabled Enhanced Security feature, which will allow you to enter and validate your most preferred password. Then, once the entry of the user password is validated through the Enhanced Security password, the VNC Viewer will connect to the QuickPanel+ through the VNC Server. If you select a QuickPanel+ with a disabled Enhanced Security feature, the VNC server won’t enforce VNC Viewers authentication. 

i) OS Utilities Settings Tools

Ensure that the QuickPanel+ you choose is equipped with two DIP (Dual In-Line Package) switches, which allow it perform control functions as follows: 

  • DIP Switch 1: This allows Firmware upgrade once it is turned ON position, but as a security measure is recommended that it be turned to OFF position once the firmware upgrade is completed 
  • DIP Switch 2: This controls Force Startup. When this switch is turned to ON position, it forces the startup applications to run once the O/S is started.    

It is important to note that some operators may find it difficult to use the DIP Switch settings when performing some functions like adjusting DIP switch positions for every operation and removing the backplate of the machine to access the switches. Hence, select a QuickPanel+ which is also equipped with Finger Gesture-Based Utilities that perform the same functions as DIP switches.  

Hardware Requirements

a) Physical Characteristics

A touchscreen is the primary user interface for a QuickPanel+, but in addition to this, select a QuickPanel+ with an Operator Interface that can support a wide range of communication ports. The diagram below illustrates the hardware features of the QuickPanel+ Operator Interface, which include locations of connectors, communication ports and status LEDs. The most critical hardware components of the QuickPanel+ include:

b) LED Indicators

Select a QuickPanel+ Interface that provides LED indicators for the following functions: 

  • QuickPanel+ Operation Status LEDs

The current QuickPanel Plus are equipped with a single tri-color LED which provides visual indication of the panel’s operating status. The table below summarizes the LED color and the indicated status:

LED ColorQuickPanel+ Operation Status
Amber, SolidOperating System Starting
Green, SolidNormal Operation Status
Green, BlinkingBacklight Off
Red, BlinkingFailure of the Backlight
OffNo Power Supply to the Unit
  • Ethernet Port Operation Status LEDs

The QuickPanel+ has an ethernet port which consists of two LED indicators that show link activity and speed.

c) Environmental Specifications

Some of the key environmental operating conditions to check out for when choosing a QuickPanel+ include: Operating temperature which should range between 0oC to +55oC, the QuickPanel+ system is cooled by natural convection, the storage temperature should vary between -10oC to +60oC, while the operating humidity level should be at 85% in terms of Relative Humidity (RH) non-condensing at 30o.

General Performance Requirements

Having identified the Software specifications and Hardware requirements of the QuickPanel+, it is important to note that every penny spent in delivering an Operator Interface for your equipment, machines, and processes, should enable you to integrate new capabilities to your systems in-line with the rapidly evolving technological innovations. To meet the current and future demands for connectivity and data requirements, select a QuickPanel+ characterized by the following features: 

a) High Performance and Optimized Interface

For maximum productivity and cost efficiency of your systems, select a QuickPanel+ that delivers high-performance control, visualization, data historian capabilities, and direct access of the required data. A highly performing QuickPanel is characterized by more memory and faster processing speeds. Also, to enhance user experience choose a QuickPanel+ that incorporates the latest display and multi-touch technology. 

 For instance, the capacitive, multi-screen is as sensitive as the latest tablet or smartphone, and though it is built to work in an industrial environment- it can be operated even when the user is wearing gloves. It is even enhanced with high-end zoom capabilities that allow you to view your processes at up to 400% zoom. In addition, a QuickPanel with a wide screen will provide more clear, vivid images and a more complete visualization process. 

b) More Flexibility and Interoperability

It is advisable that you choose a QuickPanel+ which consists of a library of drivers, such as Ethernet and Serial connectivity, so that it can be plugged into controllers, I/O, and sensors from multiple vendors. This will enable swift and smooth implementation even in plant systems that mix and match different types of communications and equipment.  

A QuickPanel+ that can support about 5 IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) programming languages like Sequential Function Chart, Function Block Diagram, Structured Text, Relay Ladder and Instruction List, would be the best option. This will allow the operator to select a multi-language support when the panel is online, depending on their preference and which in turn makes configuration of QuickPanel+ very easy. In addition, choose a QuickPanel+ which is not just a single purpose panel but can be used as a PC, with capabilities of remote desktop connections to web browser, built-in peer networking and other servers like HTTP and FTP servers. 

c) Scalability

As your plant system data requirements continue to increase, so will the hardware needs.  With this in mind, select an exceedingly scalable QuickPanel+ model that is enhanced with an expandable memory and is easy to configure. This will allow you to add more equipment or run the same program on different sizes of your QuickPanel+ model. Simply select a model or brand whose products are readily improved to meet your growing automation needs. It should also provide cost-effective replacement for PID loop displays, meters, push buttons, gauges, pilot lights and much more.

d) Multimedia Access and Full-Function Browser

As previously stated, a QuickPanel+ interface that runs on Windows Embedded Compact 7 is more preferable. As this O/S offers multimedia support and a fully-functional HTML5 browser.  Therefore, such a QuickPanel+ can be used to publish dynamic web graphs and reports which can be viewed from any device with Internet or intranet access. Also, ensure that your QuickPanel+ can allow you to access technical documentation, training videos, and other critical information like emails and alert texts through a secure network connection. 

 Currently, the top 2 QuickPanel+ available in the market are Emmerson 12” QuickPanel+ and GE 15” QuickPanel+. Though the specifications for GE QuickPanel+ series are similar to those of Emmerson series, after GE Automation was acquired by Emmerson Automation in 2019. 

We hope this run-through of the QuickPanel+ has been valuable in comprehending your selection options. For more information or to discuss which QuickPanel+ might be best for your application, please visit our website here, or contact us at sales@pdfsupply.com or 1-800-730-0292.

This entry was posted on August 16th, 2021 and is filed under Allen-Bradley, Automation, Uncategorized. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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