An Overview of AVEVA Solutions
AVEVA Solutions, formerly Wonderware, is a popular service that offers HMI, SCADA, and MES. How is each solution used in industrial automation?
The AVEVA Group is an information technology (IT) company from England. Founded in 1967, AVEVA was first prominent in the computer-aided design (CAD) sector, developing innovative CAD techniques such as the Plant Design Management System (PDMS).
At the start of the 21st century, the company went through a series of acquisitions that increased its market presence. In 2018, AVEVA merged with Schneider Electric, a multinational automation company. Schneider Electric has owned Wonderware since 2014; after the merger with AVEVA, the latter took over the Wonderware portfolio.
Wonderware was founded in 1987 by Dennis Morin and Phil Huber in California. Their goal was to revolutionize the industrial automation business by introducing user-friendly tools to help operators monitor automated systems more efficiently. They wanted to move away from outdated user interfaces and create tools that could even be fun to use, similar to videogames.
Figure 1. Wonderware and AVEVA’s logos. Image used courtesy of Matrox and AVEVA
In the same year, the company introduced the InTouch HMI, one of the first Windows-based human-machine interface (HMI) solutions. The big disruption of the InTouch HMI was that plant controls were now simpler to understand, and thus, no longer the exclusive domain of specialized technicians. With InTouch, managers and plant directors could access controls and reports directly from the application. This helped Wonderware become a fast-growing software company in the 1990s.
Wonderware continued to expand its portfolio of products over the following years and after the acquisition by Schneider Electric. Today, under the AVEVA brand, the company offers supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA), manufacturing execution systems (MES), the internet of things (IoT), and other solutions. The InTouch HMI continues to be a highly popular product in the energy and automation sectors.
Many regard Wonderware as a pioneer of smart connectivity before terms such as IoT existed.
In the following sections, we review some of the most popular products from AVEVA Solutions.
InTouch HMI is a Microsoft Windows-based development platform for HMI applications. InTouch HMI is arguably one of the most popular HMI platforms globally. AVEVA touts over one-third of all industrial installations use it to some degree.
Figure 2. An InTouch screen created for the web client interface. Image used courtesy of AVEVA
The platform is centered on designing advanced user interfaces using high-definition graphics. It places significantly more importance on visuals compared to most other HMI vendors by counting with an extensive industrial graphics repository, called the Situational Awareness Library of Industrial Graphics. This library allows adding or changing existing symbols, as well as creating new libraries for custom applications. The graphics on the library provide actionable information about a system and can also be animated.
InTouch HMI leverages numerous open technologies for interfacing with the outside world, including SQL, .NET, and OPC. For example, OPC—both UA and DA—connect to control systems to obtain real-time data about alarms and tags.
InTouch also offers the web client and access anywhere options, enabling visualization over web browsers based on HTML-5. Accessing plant information over a web client is beneficial for mobile operators and business managers.
AVEVA Edge (SCADA)
AVEVA Edge consists of multiple tools to design and implement SCADA and HMI solutions. It supports nearly all Windows platforms, as well as web browser compatibility.
Figure 3. A SCADA screen created using AVEVA Edge. Image used courtesy of AVEVA
Similar to the InTouch HMI platform, Edge focuses on high-definition visuals and shares the graphics library with InTouch. The Edge software tool can create advanced screens containing status, alarms, tags, animations, and more.
The MES from AVEVA is one of the newest additions to the portfolio. The AVEVA MES permeates all functions of a manufacturing business directly related to production, such as quality, warehousing, and naturally manufacturing itself, integrating them further by automating and simplifying interface points.
Figure 4. AVEVA MES helps improve many business functions. Image used courtesy of AVEVA
The AVEVA MES can be integrated with the enterprise resource planning (ERP) application to provide real-time data useful for making agile production planning and supply chain decisions. The MES also helps other business functions, such as inventory management, bill of materials management, and continuous improvement.
There is also a track and trace functionality based on blockchain concepts that can create end-to-end electronic product genealogy useful for fast traceability of non-compliances or other issues.
The Historian compiles large volumes of data from the production system that can later be used for valuable analysis. It uses relational databases to store and compress the information and optimized queries to access it.
Figure 5. The AVEVA Historian client provides reports and statistics from collected data. Image used courtesy of AVEVA
Analyzing Historian data yields improve opportunities and provide valuable insights and trends about a process. It can work together with the InTouch HMI and AVEVA SCADA platforms, pulling data from these systems and using the available graphics for reporting and statistics.
AVEVA Development Studio
The Development Studio is a comprehensive platform from which SCADA, HMI, Historian, and other AVEVA applications can be managed. It offers a standard way of designing solutions, which focuses on sharing and reusing resources as much as possible.
AVEVA Solutions consists of several packages utilized throughout industrial automation. It’s a popular software, especially the InTouch HMI, likely due to how long it has been around. Do you use AVEVA (previously Wonderware), or a different solution for SCADA, MES, and HMI?