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April 20, 2005 Sherrill-Lubinski Corporation of Corte Madera, California announced SL-GMS Custom Editor for Microsoft.NET, a graphic development package. Its Microsoft .NET control lets developers use Microsoft Visual Studio.NET to create customized, branded, graphic editors that enable users — such as manufacturing operations engineers and IT support engineers — to watch real-time displays of plant data via Web authoring editors. Without programming.
Morrison explained that Sherrill-Lubinski has been making software for developers who make real time software for manufacturing plant floors for twenty years, dealing with the special editing features of such things as tanks filling up and down. “But these days, the enterprise wants to attach data,” said Morrison. “Maybe they want to look at metrics that are involved with sales, key performance indicators, dashboards… everyone wants their own weather report, movies… their own special view”.
The business world has the same requirements, Morrison pointed out. A company might want a portal to display business data. “It allows them to create those views of that data and see it in portals and their browsers on their desktops,” said Morrison. The tools enable programmers to create custom environments for their end users. Said Morrison, “This used to be so hard; it used to take three to four man years. Now it takes two months. I’m very excited about that.”
SL-GMS has about 70,000 licenses in the wild. Custom Editor for .NET, the first .NET version, provides a migration path for existing SL-GMS displays.
Tony Ruffo, Director of Sales and Marketing at i-GEN Solutions Corporation of Edmonton, Canada, makes infoHAWK.net for plant floor to top floor integration. One of the company’s products was partially Human Machine Interface (HMI). After a year and a half, they evaluated feedback from customers that it was not intuitive. i-GEN chose SL in the .NET environment. Said Ruffo, “It only took us three months effort to integrate their product seamlessly with ours. Unless you knew you were using an SL product, you wouldn’t know.” The total project time is expected to be about four months, with two developers. “We have greater functionality than what we had intended to provide,” said Ruffo. “We not only got a simple replacement for our Visual Studio product, but we also obtained some additional business value in terms of features.”
SL provides key elements in two of five modules of i-GEN’s flagship product, InfoHawk.net: the HMI and charting modules. “I can’t imagine how they could have done it better,” said Ruffo.
Drop the Clean Room Suit
Andrew J. Wonacott, Software Engineering Manager, SCP Global Technologies, Inc. of Boise, Idaho, which offers Surface Preparation for the semiconductor industry, needed visual representation of plumbing and instrumentation diagramming (P&ID). “Originally, our user interface was text-based for status on valves, and we wanted to get away from that; SL Corporation had something that would fit inside our system very well,” said Wonacott. “With their product, we were able to develop an engine that could create these P&ID diagrams very easily. Very modular. We can reuse them in other applications,” Wonacott said.
SCP Global implemented the integration last fall at a customer’s facility in Asia. Said Wonacott, “Engineers can see the status over the Internet or intranet, so they don’t have to go down into the factory to look at a problem.” When there’s an equipment issue, they can call someone else to address the problem, “versus somebody having to go down to the factory floor in a clean room suit.” The result is that SCP Global can deliver immediately instead of a 15-minute response time.
“We’ve provided our customers with better equipment uptime because of access remotely,” said Wonacott, who added that SCP Global is using the SL software for other things: “We’ve done the P&IDs; we’ve done facility monitoring; we’ve got a project slated for the main graphical user interface; and our software engineers will be more productive because there will be less programming to do for production tools.”
“I’m very happy with the way it turned out for our customers. I think it’s very competitive. I think it’s better than most of these type of applications out there at the moment,” concluded Wonacott.
Runtime pricing for SL-GMS Custom Editor for Microsoft.NET starts at $250 per user.
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