The wait is over

WinCC Unified also runs on mobile HMI devices

  • Podcasts
  • HMI
  • Automation
The automation industry has long been waiting for a way to integrate the Siemens WinCC Unified visualization software on mobile handheld operating devices. Until now, there has been no solution from Siemens for this requirement. With the mobile HMI devices of the KeTop series, however, this wish can now be easily realized.

In the KEBA podcast, we talk to two of our HMI experts about the switch to WinCC Unified on mobile and wireless handheld operating devices, dispel myths and explain in simple terms how the switch works.

Listen to the podcast (German with English subtitles):

Miermans: Welcome to the KEBA podcast. It's all about the world of industrial automation and robotics. Today's topic is "Siemens WinCC Unified compatibility with mobile KEBA handheld operating devices from the KeTop series". I'm talking to two of my colleagues from the HMI solutions department, Christian Hüttner and Matthias Scherrer.

Welcome, Christian and Matthias. Can you briefly introduce yourselves and your role at KEBA?

Hüttner: I have been in charge of product management in the HMI division at KEBA since 2009, focusing on the mobile product range.

Scherrer: I am Customer Solution Manager for HMI solutions and, among other things, responsible for customizing and connecting our HMI to third-party controllers, such as a Siemens PLC in combination with a WinCC Unified visualization solution.

Miermans: KEBA HMI devices are open for all control systems, which is why we can also offer a connection to WinCC Unified. And it is as easy or as simple as with Siemens. Matthias, so that everyone has the same level of knowledge: Can you briefly explain what WinCC Unified is all about?

Scherrer: WinCC Unified is the new visualization solution from Siemens. It is a web visualization solution. It is based on HTML5, SVG and JavaScript. Specifically, the idea is that a server runs on a device and can be accessed with a client via a web browser.

Miermans: If WinCC Unified is now connected to KEBA handheld operating devices, is that the complete WinCC Unified solution or just a reduced version?

Scherrer: It is the complete WinCC Unified solution. The PLC and the visualization software come from Siemens. KEBA provides the connection via the mobile handheld control unit, called KeTop, including visualization, operating elements and button connection.

Miermans: How do you access the current WinCC Unified visualization solution? Can you download it yourself or does KEBA provide it?

Scherrer: The visualization, including the necessary licenses, must be purchased directly from Siemens. Like the web visualization, the whole thing is then configured in the TIA portal and loaded onto the KeTop handheld operating device. This requires a browser if the device is to function as a client.

Miermans: Christian, which KEBA handheld operating devices are currently WinCC Unified compatible? Is it the entire product range?

Hüttner: Yes, all devices are compatible. A 7" device, the T135, is now new on the market. We have had 10" devices in portrait and landscape format, both wired and wireless, in our range for some time. This means we can cover the entire product range and are open to all control systems. That's why it also works with Siemens.

Miermans: Keyword "wireless"; Matthias, does Siemens also offer wireless handheld control units?

Scherrer: We are very successful with our cable-free "KeTop Safe Wireless" devices and receive many customer inquiries and orders, partly because Siemens does not yet offer a solution that is ready for series production.

Miermans: What are common misconceptions about WinCC Unified on KEBA handheld operating devices? Are there false assumptions that you have to refute again and again?

Hüttner: Yes, they do exist. At first, people are often surprised that it works. Customers believe that it is a limited functionality, that it is perhaps a "hack" or a special and complex solution. If you then explain it, they think that the integration must be very complex and time-consuming. But we can also dispel these prejudices.

Miermans: Perhaps the same question, but simply the other way around: What can we not expect from WinCC Unified? What is it not, this compatibility?

Scherrer: One limitation that I can explicitly mention is that the server does not currently run on a Linux system. So you need a Windows device. What does work, however, is that you can access the server with a Linux device with a browser and thus implement the visualization. What you can't expect from KEBA is that we offer Siemens products, these still come from Siemens.

Read the complete guide for integrating a KeTop into the Siemens world

Download Step-by-step Guide

Miermans: So to summarize: WinCC Unified is fully available on the KeTop handheld operating device. You can simply purchase it, in this case from Siemens, and it is easy to install. Now we come to the connection. Matthias, how does the connection to the controller work?

Scherrer: This works quite normally via Ethernet cable via the Ethernet connection on the PLC and on the KEBA handheld control unit. The visualization is then simply transmitted via server-client architecture

Miermans: That was the connection to the control system. Christian, how are keys and individual control elements connected?

Hüttner: We have a small range of different products in our standard portfolio. The customer can choose from it. On the one hand, there are very well-established protocols such as Modbus DCP and OPCUA. We also offer a dedicated driver, the Siemens S7 driver. These are the classic solutions. If you go into the real-time bus world, we offer a PROFINET/ProfiSAFE connection box. The keys and operating elements are then transmitted in the PROFINET RT channel, of course.

Miermans: Application control, application keys and operating elements. What about the server, Christian?

Hüttner: The customer also has a certain choice here. The browser usually requires the greater part of the performance. But the server still needs a particular level of performance. In order to get the maximum performance out of the device, especially the small device, it is advisable to run the server on the Siemens hardware. The mobile handheld operating device acts as the display device with the browser. Theoretically, however, it is also possible to run the server on our handheld operating device, especially for small to medium-sized applications.

Miermans: In order to run something, Matthias, you also need licenses. What does the license model look like and what can I choose?

Scherrer: On the one hand, you need a standard developer license for the TIA portal, which the developer already has if he is working with a Siemens controller. Then he needs an additional runtime license for the web server. This can be omitted if the server runs on a Siemens panel. The runtime license is only required if you want to run the server on a KeTop or on an IPC, for example. Then you have the option of integrating two further clients in addition to the local visualization, one for operating and one for monitoring. And this runtime license, which is now PowerTag dependent, starts at 150, for example, and goes up to several 1000 PowerTags.

Miermans: If I'm now thinking about switching to WinCC Unified, because it all sounds very interesting, when is the best time to make the switch? And what do I need to make the switch?

Hüttner: Of course you want to have a certain choice of devices and now, with the launch of the 7" T135 device, is de facto the best time. Of course, KEBA will offer other products in the future that fit even better into the portfolio. But right now is the perfect time to make the switch. Especially because WinCC Unified has now developed a certain maturity in the market. This maturity makes customers accept a change. Siemens is also discontinuing certain models, which is driving the switch to WinCC Unified on the part of Siemens.

Miermans: What do I need to get started? How simple or complex can you imagine the process to be? What support does KEBA offer?

Scherrer: There is support from me and the other KEBA solution managers or our field application engineers. We offer various documentations that describe the integration of the Siemens controller and the visualization. Siemens also provides a range of free tutorials and templates for creating the visualization.

Miermans: When I talk to you in this context, I have the feeling that I can do it myself as an end user, according to KEBA's "easy-to-use" approach. Is that the case, or do I need help with the switchover?

Scherrer: Of course, it depends on the customer's knowledge and expertise. However, we recommend taking the path together with KEBA. We are happy to offer our support, as we already have a great deal of experience and can therefore make the changeover easier for the customer.

Miermans: Keyword experience: Are there already projects or reference customers who are using WinCC Unified compatible KeTop devices, Christian?

Hüttner: Yes, we have triggered a certain dynamic in the market, especially with our Safe Wireless devices. Particularly for customers who initially thought it was a hurdle. They deliberately wanted to overcome this hurdle because they really wanted our Safe Wireless. During the project, it turned out that there was no major hurdle. We also use the wired device as well as the wireless version. So you can implement a WinCC Unified visualization and switch between wired and wireless devices. Please excuse the reluctance to mention our customers by name here, as this is not permitted. But we have numerous reference projects in a wide variety of sectors, such as intralogistics, the automotive supply industry, etc., and we are currently working on many projects.

Miermans: Thank you for sharing your thoughts on WinCC Unified with mobile KeTop handheld operating devices. It works together, it's easy, support is there and as Christian said, the best time to make the switch is now.

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