Disliked by many who used it early on, and forgotten by most everyone else, the PanelView Component (PVc) was very much in danger of becoming the most unsuccessful Allen-Bradley HMI to bear the PanelView name.
However, two recent developments appear to be giving it a second chance.
Finding the Sweet Spot
On the hardware side, the PanelView Component released with a noticeable screen quality gap. The difference in screen size, features, and price between the 3″ and 6″ models was substantial. That coupled with the 6″ color display invoking bad memories of “dual scan” laptop screens showcased the hardware deficiencies in the middle of the product line.
Rockwell first addressed the lackluster 6″ color display by obsoleting it, and replacing it with a modern 6″ TFT display at the same price. While this was a much needed and good first step, it was the next release that seemed to find the perfect balance between price and functionality.
The PanelView Component 4″ touchscreen (2711C-T4T) released with a list price of $399, and came equipped with a bright TFT touchscreen and four function keys. More like it's 6″ sibling than the 3″ model, it also included an Ethernet port, SD slot, and replaceable battery (used to maintain the internal clock.)
A Sound Strategy
New hardware alone wasn't going to cure all the PanelView Component's issues. Seemingly aware of this, Rockwell began enhancing the PanelView Component DesignStation with validation capabilities. They also continued integrating it into their Connected Component Workbench (CCW) programming package. This integration allowed users to quickly switch between Micro800 PLC programming and PanelView Component screen design. It also allowed for easy browsing of Micro800 tag addresses from the PVc's tag definition list.
However, the Micro800 wasn't reason enough to install CCW. It's local adoption rate had been quite low as many preferred to stay with the popular MicroLogix line. So Rockwell needed some other reason for users to install CCW. Enter Rockwell's new component level drive, the PowerFlex 525 (PF525.)
Executing on what now seems like a very sound strategy, Rockwell made their new PF525 programmable exclusively using CCW. And being that the PF525 was a great little VFD with available dual Ethernet ports, it was a quick success. So with every new PF525 customer also came another engineer installing and using CCW.
But the real clincher was, at the same time Rockwell integrated the programming of the PF525 into CCW, they also integrated the programming of the rest of their PowerFlex drives as well. This instantly made CCW the one stop for configuring PowerFlex drives, spurred on by the fact that Rockwell ended support for the previous tool, Drive Explorer.
Successfully finding a reason for users to install CCW wouldn't mean much for the PanelView Component if the software still had large functionality gaps. Up to this point Rockwell had added validation, but the basic ability to download directly to the terminal was still missing.
With the launch of Rockwell's newest VFD, the PowerFlex 523, they also released CCW 6.1. And this version finally brought the ability to perform downloads to PanelView Component terminals without needing to export the project first.
So, how well does the new CCW PanelView Component download feature work? Well, in fact quite well.
Connecting to, programming, and transferring files to the PanelView Component family has always been done either using Ethernet, or with an off the shelf USB cable. And even when using USB, the PanelView Component software driver assigns the terminal an IP address of 169.254.254.2.
So when you attempt to download to the PVc the first time there's only one field to enter: the IP address of your PVc. And if you're using a USB connection, you're in luck as the default IP address is already preloaded for you.
If the terminal is connected when you attempt the download, the whole process takes a few seconds. However, if your terminal is disconnected (or you type in the wrong IP address) the software will take a minute or two to report back that it's timed out.
Note: It should be pointed out that to use CCW 6.1 with your PanelView Component you'll need to upgrade the HMI terminal to firmware 1.8. In my case, no matter what I tried, I couldn't get this to work over USB or Ethernet. However I did find flashing the unit using a USB memory stick was easy enough, and once updated the download worked as expected.
Well I hope this article about the updated usability of CCW with the PanelView Component is helpful. If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions please don't hesitate to share them by filling out the “post a comment or question” link below.
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