This year marks a partnership that has been producing industry-leading thin client technology for the past fifteen years. The two partners, Advantech’s Industrial Automation Group (IAG), and Automation Control Products (ACP), a US-based company, have reason to celebrate; the market is primed for growth.
As thin client computing has become more ubiquitous in automation, so too has the need for thin client management software. Once found in only complex distributed control systems in refineries and other process plants, thin clients and HMI systems are now found in many guises and many locations, from industrial machines and tooling systems, to manufacturing production lines and water treatment plants. Thin client management software has evolved and changed with new requirements to become more flexible and capable.
Where ACP and Advantech’s partnership fits into this evolution is in supplying this increasing demand. ACP is the creator of ThinManager®, a unique software suite for the management of thin clients and terminal servers. The software delivers trendsetting centralized management solutions for modern factory applications, using simple application interfaces and appealing visual resources. ThinManager protects hardware from obsolescence, allows for automatic configuration of clients, promotes high availability redundancy and failover, and offers load balancing, all in a secure computing environment. What’s more, ACP’s thin client solutions are proven in the field with HMI and SCADA applications.
As plant floor processes become more automated, operators need to have more information on the processes at their fingertips, especially as the requirements for local display and control have become more complex. Thin clients solve this need by serving applications across distributed networking infrastructures; loading programs and operating system from a central server. The technology includes terminal services, virtualization, and virtual desktops, as well as thin client PCs which have no hard drives or local storage and many of which don’t even have a local operating system.
ACP Adds Value to Thin Client Management
Thin clients are often combined with a Human Machine Interface (HMI), and when the HMI has a small form factor, the entire product, HMI and thin client, may be physically only as large as the HMI display itself. Regardless of the size of the industrial environment, or number of facilities, thin client systems need management, control, and security. ACP, whose roots can be traced back to 1999 as an integration company, has grown into a global leader in thin client management with its focus on software that makes administrating computers in modern factory environments much easier, safer and more reliable. Their ThinManager software suite allows administrators to easily deliver centralized applications, data and information to end-user devices including thin clients, PCs and even mobile tablets. ThinManager provides a feature-rich toolset that increases the value of end-user devices by giving them additional functionality such as support for multiple user sessions, multiple monitors and more.
Advantech Terminal Units on the Factory Floor
Advantech has been supplying ACP with its HMI terminal units for over 15 years. ACP has taken the platforms, designed for industrial-grade use in factory environments, and delivered outstanding applications and centralized support via ThinManager. Advantech supplies ACP-approved products from its TPC and UNO product series. The units are typically installed as end-user terminals within industrial workspaces. Applications are delivered from one central location which makes installation and configuration very efficient.
Tom Jordan, V.P. of Marketing for ACP ThinManager said, “I get to talk to partners and customers all the time about why our ThinManager platform with Advantech thin client terminals are the best choice for delivering applications and content to end-users in any environment. We have many projects under our belt that make good examples of how well these products work together. Advantech stands out for us as a partner because of the people we have relationships with between our companies. All good business, all good partnerships stem from good people. Advantech has good people who sell and support their products.”
It is important to note that almost every installation of Advantech terminals and ThinManager share common traits. The hardware is longer lasting. It can stand up to industrial environments by resisting high heat, vibrations, and other factors that can kill less robust units. The hardware also runs applications efficiently and consistently, taking advantage of high-end features like MultiMonitor and Multisession technology. Finally, the hardware is easy to support and replace in the unlikely event of failure. Adoption of thin client hardware as the de facto, end-user device in modern factories still has tremendous room for growth, and designing sustainable, lean hardware solutions for delivering content to the modern manufacturing workforce is the way to meet that growth head on.
The Thin Future of Factory Automation
With the latest release of ThinManager, even more features are making their way to the factory floor with the promise to lower energy costs, drive sustainable technologies, and deliver enhanced security. Innovation on the factory floor equates to better numbers on the bottom line, and in today’s competitive world, these numbers can make or break businesses.
Great partnerships like the one between ACP and Advantech offer the industry rock solid, reliable solutions by pushing data into the hands of employees and giving management the metrics needed to guide its decision-making processes.
Automation Control Products (ACP) began developing thin client management software in 1999. Based in Alpharetta, GA., ACP distributes its flagship ThinManager platform around the world to equip modern facilities with a robust, reliable platform that manages severs, thin clients, IP cameras, virtual machines, mobile devices, and more. Over 1,000 companies in 30 counties, including one in then Fortune 500 companies, use ThinManager and ThinManager-Ready Thin Clients for their daily operation.