LONG READ – IN-DEPTH WHITE PAPER
Why you should consider changing to X2 HMIs
It's never easy to change something, especially if it is not even broken. But what does 'broken' mean in today's industrial automation environment? If a product is discontinued? If a product is outdated? If the supplier's support or ability to deliver is weak? Regardless of the industry you belong to, your company probably prefers equipment and suppliers that that help operate your business as effective as possible.
This paper provides an overview of when companies should consider another provider of HMI equipment, specifically our X2 HMIs and iX software.
An HMI enables an operator to visualize the machine's status and manipulate its parameters. An HMI hardware should be designed for the environment they will be installed in. Will they be indoors, in dry, clean, temperature and humidity-controlled, low vibration environments? Or will they be outside, in dusty, wet, extreme temperature, high vibration environments?
In the USA and Canada, UL and cUL are usually required. In Europe ATEX may be obligatory. In other countries, IECEx approval may be mandatory. For hazardous locations involving gases and dusts, third-party approvals are required. These approvals are time-consuming and costly. Passing formal assessments requires proper product design, component selection, and pre-testing.
The X2 advantage
Beijer Electronics has been dedicated to the industrial HMI industry since the early 1980s. The X2 series is Beijer Electronics’ sixth generation line, purpose-built for the environments they will be installed in:
- X2 base - Cost-effective industrial HMI panels with high-resolution touchscreens and modern design.
- X2 pro - High performance of powerful ARM Cortex-A9 processors, the latest screen technology and a wide range of connectivity options.
- X2 marine - User-friendly, reliable operation off-shore, on ships and in other maritime applications.
- X2 control - Combines industrial HMI and CODESYS PLC functionality in the same compact hardware.
- X2 extreme - Designed to perform in rugged outdoor environments and in hazardous areas where gases and dust are present.
- X2 web - For enterprises and users who wants to utilize HTML5 web technologies in industrial environments.
All are CE, FCC and UL/cUL approved. All X2 models, less the X2 base models, have a variety of maritime classifications. The X2 extreme units have approvals for Class I Division 2, ATEX Zone 2/22, IECEx. All can be customized with proprietary branding and imaging.
Software is critical to the safety and effectiveness of the machine the HMI is managing. It is what differentiates average HMIs from truly outstanding ones.
Some HMI manufacturers offer a broad list of drivers and integration with a large list of PLCs. These lists are applicable for many applications involving older or unique machinery. However, the trend is toward Ethernet-based protocols such as Modbus TCP, EtherNet/IP, EtherCAT, PROFINET, and away from fieldbus protocols such as PROFIBUS, Modbus RTU, CC-Link and CAN. Trends are also showing a migration towards more open protocols such as OPC UA and MQTT.
The iX advantage
If you like Beijer Electronics’ hardware, you will love our software. iX Developer is a modern programming and design tool. It enables control engineers to design HMI screens that provide operators with a safe and intuitive machine management tool allowing:
- Vector-based graphics for all screen sizes.
- Scores of pre-style objects, a massive object library, and space for customized images.
- C# scripting for advanced functionality.
- Support for most PLCs through a broad suite of communication drivers.
iX Developer is the design tool for X2. iX Runtime is what enables the iX project to run on the X2 HMI or on any Windows PC. For the X2 HMIs that support soft control, iX is combined with CODESYS soft PLC software. CODESYS is based on the IEC 61131-3 standard for open PLC software.
Cloud technology is virtual storage designed as an effective and secure way to store and share data. The cloud can be a business’ private cloud or a public cloud such as those offered by AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, Oracle Cloud, IBM Cloud, and Alibaba Cloud. The cloud can be a hybrid combination of private and public systems.
HMIs collect machine data. HMIs can forward machine data to a cloud. The cloud aggregates it. IT systems mine the data, analysis it, and aid in decision-making. The cloud has quickly become essential in modern industrial systems.
The X2, iX and acirro+ advantage
iX-based X2 HMIs support a broad range of operational technology (OT) communication protocols. Most information technology (IT) systems do not understand the OT protocols. X2 HMIs can bridge this gap by pushing key data to the cloud for aggregation and analysis by IT systems. The cloud can be private, public, or one offered by Beijer Electronics, known as acirro+.
acirro+ collects key data points e.g. tags from the PLC/HMI. It can also collect device health, device and network settings, and software and firmware details. Machine health, performance, settings, and diagnostics data are critical for preventative maintenance and overall machine up-time. Beijer Electronics HMIs are taking a leadership role in industrial cloud integration.
It's more than HMIs
HMIs don’t just live their own lives. They are always connected to other equipment e.g. PLCs or IT systems where they exchange data and are part of a larger digital ecosystem. It can be challenging to find optimal individual product solutions that work well together and time-consuming to communicate with different vendors to achieve and support a solution.
The Beijer Electronics advantage – Engineering solutions
Beijer Electronics has a wide product portfolio of industrial HMIs that are designed to meet the needs of a variety of environments and applications. Our product range even includes PLCs, data communication devices, distributed IOs and much more which work together to solve a larger portion of our customers' challenges. In addition, we offer pre-made, well-proven function blocks and template projects to reduce engineering time. All this together helps customers to create smart, open automation solutions fast and efficient with support from an experienced customer-oriented organization.
End users, system integrators, OEMs and machine builders rely on timely and accurate technical support. There’s nothing more frustrating than being in the middle of a system start-up, and when problems occur – not being able to get quick assistance to help troubleshoot and resolve technical issues.
Manufacturers offer multiple levels of support and professional services. Pre-sales support to businesses that are procuring products, especially from new suppliers, have questions, many of a technical nature. Manufacturers deploy field application engineers to assist by providing detailed product explanations and hands-on training and demonstrations.
The Beijer Electronics advantage - Our people
“People & Technology. Connected” is not just our slogan but how we go about our everyday business. Beijer Electronics is customer-centric, core to our business structure. We help customers all the way, from purchase, efficient order administration and deliveries to after-sales service. We will help you find the best product or solution to match your needs. Take advantage of our technical support or our field application engineers on site to resolve issues quickly and efficiently.
Moreover, we offer customers help through Connected, our online forum. In this forum you can engage with others, search for help or find solutions to common problems related to an application, a product or an industry. You can also join UNITED,our partner program where we share our strategic direction and roadmap to support your business.
The global supply chain has become commonplace. The global pandemic and political strife have created new ways to manage the supply chain. When components are limited and no longer reliable, production is impacted, and costs increase. Supply chain management coupled with product design and component selection have become core competencies for successful businesses.
The Beijer Electronics advantage – Supply chain
Beijer Electronics has put a lot of effort into our supply chain prior to and throughout the recent pandemic and political conflicts. It has been a constant commitment by our employees to honor product delivery confirmations. Alternative suppliers, designs based on common parts, and the ability to work long hours, have been critical to its achievements. We do our best to help provide our customers the products they need, when they need them.
Sustainability is the practice of using natural resources responsibly, so they are available for future generations. Industrial manufacturers and suppliers have a role in helping make the world a better place.
Sustainably oriented companies build products that use raw materials from proper sources, that do not contain certain chemicals or hazardous materials. European directives such as REACH and RoHS, outline rules about chemicals used, and declarations of chemicals not used in the production of their products.
The Beijer Electronics advantage – sustainability
Our sustainability work is an integrated and natural part of our operations. It’s designed to promote profitable and sustainable development. It has taken a strong position on climate change, planetary boundaries, following established government and proven sustainable frameworks. It has clear sustainable goals which include economics, environmental, and social positions.
Companies buy from companies that provide products and services that help them solve their problems and improve their competitive positions. Companies rarely change suppliers unless they are forced to. But when products are discontinued, unavailable, outdated and support is weak, businesses need to find alternatives.
Today, product availability has become an important buying criterion. The greatest product is of no value if it cannot be delivered. With this in mind, we tiressly work our supply chain system with the goal to shorten lead times, build local stock, and honor our delivery commitments.
Beijer Electronics is a purpose-driven company. Our “People & Technology. Connected” slogan starts with people: our employees, suppliers, and our customers. All contribute to our success. And as a result of customer interactions, we are constantly looking for effective ways to improve our existing products and optimize our product offering and services.
If an incumbent supplier of industrial automation products is faltering, Beijer Electronics is there to step in, with a goal of establishing a long-term relationship.
Why X2 and Beijer Electronics?
• Beijer Electronics has been dedicated to the industrial HMI industry since the early 1980s. The X2 series is Beijer Electronics’ sixth generation line, purpose-built for the environments they will be installed in.
• iX Developer is a modern programming and design tool. It enables control engineers to design HMI screens that provide operators with a safe and intuitive machine management tool.
• acirro+ collects key data points e.g. device health, device and network settings, and software and firmware details.
• Our product range even includes PLCs, data communication devices, distributed IOs and much more which work together to solve a larger portion of our customers' challenges.
• We help customers all the way, from purchase, efficient order administration and deliveries to after-sales service.
• We put effort into our supply chain and do our best to help provide our customers the products they need, when they need them.
• Sustainability work is an integrated and natural part of our operations with clear sustainable goals.