Facility HMI Application Upgrade and Network Restructure Application Story


PDA upgraded a client’s facility-wide HMI solutions, IT hardware infrastructure, and Network architecture. This client faced multiple facility-wide issues with aging IT hardware, the maintenance of 8 legacy standalone RSview32 applications with custom VB code, and RSLinx to facilitate data transactions directly to business systems. The Network was unreliable and network traffic was not segmented or properly structured for the requirements of the facility equipment and business systems. Each of the standalone HMI applications would constantly update all data transactions to the business system causing massive amounts of unnecessary data traffic that would crash the network, make it extremely slow, and unreliable. All of the standalone HMI applications had similar screens referencing upstream and downstream processes. If updates and screen modifications were made, each of the 8 HMI applications had to be updated individually causing unnecessary downtime and application revision issues.


Process and Data Automation improved the facility by implementing a Rockwell FactoryTalk suite solution that was comprised of a Server-Client architecture. Moving to this application structure had multiple advantages:

  • One common HMI application for all 8 client locations. This advantage eliminated the standalone HMI applications by consolidating them to one common application.
    • The HMI application would be hosted on the server and include all screens to run the facility.
    • The client machines send screen requests to the server application. The server application would orchestrate serving the screens to the clients upon request. Revision management was no longer an issue. A modification to the common HMI application would be applied to all client PC’s automatically.
    • During the screen consolidation, PDA removed extraneous custom VB code and applied this functionality using standard tools within the HMI application.
  • Inherent Network restructure requirements that removed the massive amounts of data traffic being produce by the multiple standalone HMI applications. The network was now a one-to-one relationship between the server and the clients.
  • Data Transaction restructure. Due to the amount of data being pushed to business systems by the existing HMI Applications, Process and Data Automation restructured the data transactions by using FactoryTalk Transaction Manager and Microsoft SQL. The transaction manager pushed the production data to an architected SQL database. The business systems then polled data as required from the SQL database. The introduction of an intermediate SQL database organized the collected production data and isolated the business system from the production process with a direct connection to SQL.
  • Server and Client Hardware Upgrades. A primary and secondary server was implemented for redundancy and high availability to critical applications and production data.

The advantages that were implemented as the solution to the client drastically reduced downtime and improved the maintenance requirements of the system. Process and Data automation deployed this solution in parallel with the existing system and used strategic change-over phases to minimize the impact of the upgrade to production.


The client is a global leader in biodiesel technology with plants all over the world


  • HMI Application Maintenance issues
  • Network crashes due to no structured network management
  • Obsolete IT hardware



  • Primary and Secondary servers designed for redundancy and high availability
    • HP ProLiant servers
    • RAID 5 Configurations
    • Online Smart UPS’s
  • Client PC’s
    • HP ProLiant Entry machines
  • Microsoft Server OS
  • Microsoft SQL Standard
  • HyperV
  • Rockwell Software
    • FactoryTalk View SE server
    • FactoryTalk View Clients
    • FactoryTalk Transaction Manager
    • FactoryTalk View Studio


  • Working with client’s IT department
  • Working with client and personnel to define system requirements
  • Server design of hardware configuration and requirements
  • Server Software Installations/Configurations
    • Microsoft SQL
    • Microsoft Server
    • FactoryTalk Suite Software
  • Data Transfer and Database configurations
  • System testing to validate software installations and process functionality
  • Documentation of Network Diagrams and Server Architecture Diagrams


  • HMI programming for screen development, tag structuring, and alarming requirements
  • PLC programming to facilitate data collection buffering routines within the PLC’s