Bring Your Own Device: Android Tablets Become Industrial Control Panel Interfaces

Berner & Mattner implement testing equipment control for OMICRON as Android app

CMControl P App of Android tablets / Image source: OMICRON electronics GmbH (PresseBox) ( Munich, )
Berner & Mattner has developed a new kind of operating solution for OMICRON's CMC testing equipment in just three months. It is unique because this newly developed Android app transforms any Android tablet into a touchscreen control panel for testing equipment. This is the first hardware-independent operating solution ('bring your own device,' or BYOD) for OMICRON's secondary technology testing equipment, which are used by electric power companies, industrial companies, railway companies, and relay and measurement equipment manufacturers. The CMControl app is a ported version and an adaptation of the human/machine interface (HMI), which was developed by Berner & Mattner and its partner Centigrade and has even received the IF communication design award 2010.

Austria-based OMICRON electronics GmbH is an industry leader in power system testing solutions based on protection and measurement technology. Since 2008, the company has worked together with developer Berner & Mattner, who, along with its own partner Centigrade, has developed an agile software development process for touchscreen-based HMIs that is especially focused on interaction concepts. Following the CMControl P for testing protective devices and the CMControl R for testing recloser and sectionalizer controls, a methodical approach has enabled the speedy realization of a completely unique Android app project for the measurement and testing equipment industry.

A Fixed-price Project with Tight Time Constraints

"Everyone is talking about 'bring your own device,' and now we've implemented it for controlling testing equipment for the first time. Our customers are now able to operate their testing equipment using the touchscreen of whichever device they choose," explains Jakob Siemayr, product manager at OMICRON electronics. "The WiFi connection to the specific testing device provides the user more freedom of movement, and the test reports created by the device are able to be viewed and evaluated directly on the tablet."

While porting to Android, the functional properties of the CMControl operating terminal were kept in place, and hardware controller elements like a control wheel or on/off switch for activating the testing device have now been implemented as software elements.

Another advantage of this newly developed app: A demo mode allows potential users to get an overview of the controls and the extent of the functions, without even having the device itself in front of them.

"In this case, OMICRON is the pioneer of a new, extremely attractive operating concept," states Frank Wolf, Senior Software Engineer at Berner & Mattner. "Human-machine interfaces as apps for mobile devices save on development costs needed to customize hardware for a specific application, in particular. The simple deployment of the app via app stores like Google Play is practical for manufacturers and users alike. Updates also reach the customer much faster than would ever be possible using traditional HMI solutions. The free demo mode without a measuring device also enables OMICRON customers to become familiar with the operating concept easily by installing the application on their tablet for testing purposes."

OMICRON presented the CMControl P app mid-February at the Middle East Electricity trade fair in Dubai. Berner & Mattner will display the app at Embedded World in Nuremberg (26-28 February 2013, hall 5, booth 326).
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