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  • Remote HMI app without Internet Connection?

    Ok, so I've been trying to think of an easy, simple retrofit for one of our pieces of equipment. We have a few Spudnik pilers that are used for filling bulk storages with potatoes and onions, and at one point in their long lives they had remotes for controlling a few of the hydraulic valves. This way the piler operator can move around to have a good view of the pile and not be stuck back at the manual hydraulic controls. But with the years the remotes have gotten lost/broken and the systems have become dated, and replacement parts are extremely expensive.

    For some other projects I've been working on, I've played around with the Remote HMI app with a EA9-T10WCL HMI paired with an Ethernet Standard CLICK PLC. But the location that setup is at has a solid internet connection and the network strung throughout the entire facility. The potato and onion storages tend to be in more remote locations without internet connections. So my question is, can I connect an Ethernet CLICK PLC and a headless HMI to a wireless router (with no internet connection) and connect an iPhone to that router's WiFi and access the headless HMI via the Remote HMI app? I've attempted messing around with this in the office with the EA9-T10WCL and an Ethernet CLICK but haven't had much success. I can find the HMI (with the correct local IP address and all) in the app, but when I try to connect to it, it never connects. When I go and plug in the same HMI and PLC into the network with internet connection, I'm able to access it no problem.

    Is this possible at all? Or am I just missing some steps in trying to get this setup?

    Thanks!


  • #2
    Yes, you can, but the iPhone is going to complain that the wifi network that it is connected to doesn't have internet. I don't know iOS very deep. I know I can make that work on Android for sure (I do the same exact scenario pretty frequently).

    I would start with assigning a static IP to all of the devices, while also making sure that you change the DHCP pool allocation to not assign an IP in your static range.

    If your router by default is using 192.168.1.x, change the DHCP pool to only assign say, 192.168.1.50 through 192.168.1.249.

    Assign your PLC 192.168.1.10. The HMI 192.168.1.11. And in the phone, assign it a static IP of 192.168.1.12. Make sure you're pointing the gateway and DNS addresses to 192.168.1.1 for all devices.

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    • #3
      Perfect, thank you for the help!

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      • #4
        Something else to think of, depending on how remote the location for the storage is (I'm not sure if we're talking on the same farm or a remote location miles away), you may be able to setup a long range PtP network to get internet from the facility internet, to the remote location. Ubiquiti gear is pretty inexpensive and does a great job. I've setup a number of PtP and PtMP links with them, ranging from a few hundred feet to just shy of a mile. As with most Ubiquiti gear, sometimes they can be a pain to setup initially, but once they are they are rock solid.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by farmerh19 View Post
          Ok, so I've been trying to think of an easy, simple retrofit for one of our pieces of equipment. We have a few Spudnik pilers that are used for filling bulk storages with potatoes and onions, and at one point in their long lives they had remotes for controlling a few of the hydraulic valves. This way the piler operator can move around to have a good view of the pile and not be stuck back at the manual hydraulic controls. But with the years the remotes have gotten lost/broken and the systems have become dated, and replacement parts are extremely expensive.
          I would look towards something specifically engineered for wireless remote control of a machine.

          Omnex by Cooper or similar is where I'd start. I'm sure there are others.

          http://www.cooperindustries.com/cont...lecontrol.html

          Similar to what a concrete pump truck operator would use. I would hesitate to install a click and similar components on a machine that gets banged around and jostled and towed from storage to storage. I would be concerned with loose and intermittent connections over time causing issues. A customer of ours had us install a vfd on a blower to clean debris and weeds off the potatoes before they entered the storage. After a week of running we couldn't keep the HIM on the enclosure door communicating with the VFD because of vibration causing intermittent connection issues.

          Just something to watch out for.

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          • #6
            +1 for Ubiquiti PtP gear. I have used it for both computer LAN and machine LAN networks between buildings for 5 or 6 years now without a single issue.

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            • #7
              Ubiquiti makes awesome products! Their PtP and PtMP gear crossed my mind at first, but we’re in a lot of hills in our area and the locations are anywhere from 5-25 miles away from each other, and they’re all 20+ miles away from the office location with the good internet connection. I would love to have all the storages setup on a PtMP, because I’ve also looked at retrofitting the entire storage fan/fresh air door controls and temperature monitoring with the same HMIs to be able to remotely monitor and control temperature, fan speed, etc. However, that is still a project I would like to tackle one of these years.. it would make storage management much easier.

              Speaking of Ubiquiti, I’m a huge fan of their stuff.. I redid our whole network at our office/freshpack facility since we’re in the process of building a new potato packing line. So the network is running off a USG, CloudKey Gen2+ with multiple AP-AC Pro’s throughout the facility and a few Ubiquiti Switches as well. Cameras are in the plan since the CloudKey Gen2+ is in place.

              Cow, thanks for the heads up on the communication issues from the vibrations. Some of the equipment we use for going into storage does use VFDs and PLCs already, but I haven’t seen much as far as touch screen HMIs.. I don’t imagine they would last well being exposed to the dust/environment these machines are used in. One of the reasons I’m looking to use the headless HMI (all the touch screen HMIs I’m using are for the fresh pack line project, all indoors). I’ll check out that Omnex system though, thanks for the suggestion!

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