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CIM systems upgraded.

New versions and enhancements of CIM on-line monitoring systems from three major suppliers were released recently. One of them was just announced publicly last month. What these new offerings have in common are features for greater ease of use, improved displays, and more user-configurability of displays and reports.


Among two major announcements from Syscon-PlantStar, South Bend, Ind., are numerous enhancements to its Focus-100 monitoring system and the launch last month of the brand-new Focus-2000 system. It performs all the same functions as Focus-100, but with greatly expanded flexibility in terms of hardware platforms, data retrieval, and user-configurability.

Focus-2000 is based on completely "open-system" architecture and software--e.g., the UNIX operating system, Ingres Relational Database Manager, Structured Query Language (SQL), and X-Windows graphical user interface. Steven J. Thomas, v.p. of marketing, explains: "What this means to users is that they can run the Focus-2000 system on 100 different platforms, from IBM or Digital Equipment Corp. to Apple Macintosh. They can then integrate Focus-2000 with virtually any pre-existing system software. Focus-2000 and any existing or future software application, regardless of its operating system or type, can operate out of different windows on a single terminal on a user's desk," Thomas explains. "The relational database and graphical user interface offer users the capability to not only design and customize their own screens for their own operating environment, but also to add additional functions and applications to the database on their own. This type of functionality has never been available before--except in systems costing millions of dollars per copy." Focus-2000, he says, now offers these features for as little as 10-15% more than current Focus-100 systems cost. Typical systems, with five to eight terminals, might cost 20-25% more. Existing Focus-100 systems can readily be upgraded to Focus-2000 capability, the company says.

Focus-2000 is designed to be independent of both the computer hardware platform and the operating system, such as UNIX, MS-DOS, Xenix, Novell NetWare 386, and many others. Focus-2000 is delivered with all the standard screens of Focus-100, but as users gain familiarity they can customize to their own requirements. By using the relational database, they can refine existing displays or create entirely new ones, define their own screens, name their own variables, and add their own data fields.

The Structured Query Language (SQL) reportedly allows easy extraction of data from the system for interfacing to third-party programs and systems. Focus-2000 can easily share data with another program because SQL allows the user to ask for and receive selected data.

The mouse-driven graphical user interface, with icons and multiple windows simultaneously active, is said to be easy to learn and use.
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Title Annotation:Focus-2000; computer-integrated manufacturing
Author:Naitove, Matthew W.
Publication:Plastics Technology
Date:Aug 1, 1992
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