Apps for Smartphones The Best Apps for Decision-Makers in the Process Industry

Editor: Tobias Hüser

Apps for smartphones and tablets have become so commonplace that it is difficult to imagine working life without them. Gadgets which used to be seen as mere gimmicks are now helping engineers to plan automation processes and search for spare parts. The only question to be answered is how helpful the mobile applications are in routine tasks. PROCESS worldwide has been out hunting down apps for you and has found some which really do the business.

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Do you want to be able to access all the information about your facility on your smartphone? For many apps this is no longer a problem.
Do you want to be able to access all the information about your facility on your smartphone? For many apps this is no longer a problem.
(Collage: © mhp/© Sergey Nivens)

People who make operational decisions want to be kept updated on the status of their facilities at all times. Not just while they are standing over the boiler looking for a quick-fix solution to make processes more efficient, but also when they are away on business – they need instant access to production data and company reports. Smartphone and tablet apps like Smartglance are the perfect solution. These analysis tools can be used to produce graphs and to format data so that they can be compared with other statistics. It is also possible to send reports and snapshots by email and to link up with Excel, SAP and ERP systems.

The EDS mobile app (for Android) developed by Emerson Process Management Power & Water Solutions offers similar functions. The app can generate diagrams and automation systems and compare performance records. The user of the software can view calculations and readouts with the smartphone as well as respond to alarm signals relayed from the control room.

Gallery

Project managers who are still hungry for more will like what is being offered by app vendor TPG The Project Group. The company is supplying three programs for project management in Microsoft Project 2013. TPG MTA Chart provides a clear overview of project timelines with its milestone trend analysis. If the schedule is tight because of time delays, the person in charge can identify measures which can be taken to ease the situation before it is too late. TPG Risk Chart provides a graphical analysis of the risks associated with any given project. Potential risks are flagged up with a traffic light color-coding system.

TPG WBS Chart provides a visual display of the project structure and a breakdown of the work involved. The user can view the entire plan at the click of a mouse or zoom in on details, hide and show different parts of the structure, and add color markings to indicate whether the status of a work package is in the green zone or the critical zone.

All the information at a glance

Endress+Hauser and Siemens show another way in which apps can facilitate the work of process engineers. A quick check on the stock of spare parts, a glance at the manual to look something up, or a bit of research to see if there's a new model due out – jobs which used to involve searching on the internet or wading through a pile of documents can now be done with the Operations app (for Android), which supplies important information about Endress+Hauser installations. Just enter the serial number or scan the data matrix code and there you have all the product information for the testing and measuring equipment. The functions of the software include a ”Device List” (history of last search) and the facility to download documents and share them with colleagues over the smartphone.

Siemens Industry Online Support (for Android) is a similar app. The mobile application provides the user with access to over 300,000 documents. The app can supply the latest software releases, handbooks, certificates, graphs and example applications for process control systems and the product life-cycle management system. The software also contains all the information for the Sirius industrial control technology, making it possible for users of the Sirius eAssistance app to change over to the new application.

Checking the blower

Aerzen has developed the iAir remote monitoring app to control blowers and compressors in sewage treatment plants. A monitoring system needs to be connected first in order to receive process data from the equipment. This monitor can then transmit the information to the smartphone. This is intended to help operators of sewage treatment plants to detect faults early on and avoid repairs and servicing work.

Manage your bioprocess

To monitor key process variables of bioprocesses at a glance, access real-time and historical data using the powerful online charts or control and adjust set-points and parameters of several parallel bioreactor systems – anytime from anywhere – Dasgip iApp allows this with remote control of the bioreactor systems via Wifi or 3G mobile networks.

Troubleshooting aid

The fault diagnosis for SEW-Eurodrive frequency inverters now has added support from SEW Diagnostics. Simply enter the error code which appears on the inverter and the app will tell you what action to take to solve the problem. If the suggestions don't work, the company's 24-hour service hotline is just one click away.

Automation made easy

In order to operate and monitor various automation jobs of the Wago controller over the smartphone, the company has developed Wagolink. The control application supports read and write access to program data by one or more web-based controllers.

Anyone unsure how to translate certain automation technology terms should take a look in the Festo Dictionary of Automation, where over 19,000 technical terms are translated by the dictionary app into German, French, Arabic, Spanish and other languages.

Reference book for gases

The Gas Encyclopedia of Air Liquide allows users to quickly access a host of information on the physical and chemical properties of 64 gas molecules like oxygen, nitrogen and hydrogen in their solid, liquid and gaseous states. The app also indicates the material compatibilities of various gases and describes their main industrial applications. It offers numerous features: a molecular comparison tool for lab work, search filters, an equivalence converter and a 3D molecule viewer.

* The author works as a trainee editor for PROCESS. E-Mail Contact: tobias.hueser@vogel.de

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