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The changing world of Industrial Supervision
Article taken from "Automazione Industriale", issue 105 - March 2003

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Automa has unveiled an innovative version of its industrial supervision development system.

By Glauco Ricci

Automa produces software. Talking about this sector is like entering a world where everyone speaks a different language. So, Mario Borali, product manager of the Bergamo-based company, came up with a good idea of illustrating the types of products offered by Automa within the context of today's market technology. He was given the chance to do so thanks to an interesting meeting with the press and some of the company's main supervision software user customers that was recently organised in Seriate at the Enel Hydro image point.
A block diagram of industrial computer systems clearly shows the ERP managerial solutions, scheduling and production advancement, order management, data acquisition and the man-machine PC and PLC interface.

Super-Flash 3.6, the new version of the Automa development system, operates at the HMI man-machine interface level. According to Automa, each product must have important features, but especially enhanced integration capability, since that's what today's market wants more than anything else. The user must be able to move automatically through the four levels described, thanks to a system that, depending on the requests, knows how to give the right answers. With this in mind, the meaning of the "real time" characteristic is rather important: a single PLC or management systems will obviously consider such a concept differently depending on whether they operate in ms or seconds, minutes or days.
Numerous applications have already been developed using Automa software. One of these is man-made snow plant management, including planning and control of the snow to produce. Or those that utilise a single software application for factory automation, building automation, fire-fighting and safety... which all demonstrate this new technological approach.
Another example is the Gran San Bernardo tunnel management system that includes semaphores, fans, lights, and on and off operations for various units. The system has been designed to incorporate both Italian and Swiss management, to avoid leaving anything to chance, carefully separating the various country-specific tasks in order to optimise safety. A development system capable of generating SCADA supervision and man-machine interface applications has been available since the first version for DOS in 1989. Today, Automa has moved it into the Windows environment, taking into account any reliability problems. This is a multiple-platform system that runs in DOS, Windows and soon, even in Linux and Windows Ce.

Super-Flash divides all its applications into archives and the main one involves variables. The system can be used to create variables with an ID code within the applications and that can also be identified by type: physical from external peripherals, calculated or constant. An operator can even select the format, decimal or bcd, as well as the dimension in bits.
About sixty protocols are available: for example, it would be possible to connect 16 peripherals to 16 different protocols, including those of the most important PLC and thermoregulator manufacturers.
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