Is Your FactoryTalk SE HMI Server healthy?

My guess I that you may not know the health of your HMI server, that is not your fault so no worries. This is a common problem because the general break down is between the IT/OT meaning between information technology and operational technology. Most manufacturing facilities have an IT department that is completely separate from operations support and then the maintenance technical staff that maintain the equipment running.


IT/OT convergence

IT/OT convergence is a step that Rockwell Automation is leading to stop this breakdown between technical services and to have a base platform for IT/OT to work better side by side. Their idea of Integrated platforms that their connected enterprise offers that can boost productivity along with product quality, especially for manufacturing and industrial OEM application. The connected enterprise and the internet of things is the coming future so the time to get a base understanding is now rather than later.

Well, the truth to the matter is that most industries can’t afford to simply shut down their equipment and upgrade that equipment especially if it has been running well for many years. Most industries are waiting to do this type of move when they get newer equipment installed.

This is still a great time to get ready or get an understanding of this approach so that in the coming years as it gets implemented, we are not put in a position of culture shock.

Are there options to check proper HMI server health?

Actually, there are several best practice methods that most people do not use or do not even know about which again I say that it not their fault because the problem is derived from the breakdown between IT/OT.  These practices have been around for years and are proven methods to check for errors and give you a point of reference to fix the errors that are found.

One of these practices is to check the diagnostic viewer on the bottom of an RSView Studio application. This will show you all activity that the server is doing whether it is an error, a caution, or a good transition.

Example of errors are:

Server Diagnostic Errors








Examples of a good transition are:

Diagnostic good transition

I did not show the whole screen because I am only trying to highlight the red X and the blue information icons to show a bad and good situation. The notifications in the diagnostic section will let you know if there is an error in your HMI application and to give you an idea of where that error is.

What I like to do is to have the diagnostic section open go through the application by pressing the screen to screen or operation buttons and make a list of any errors that occur then set priorities to the errors based upon their importance of the HMI application running. You can also leave the diagnostic section open while the system runs normally if there is a lot of operator interface on the application to give you the same effect.

Note: that all of this work can be done on a running HMI application and will not affect the HMI application, at this phase of the process you are just trying to get an understanding of the errors and to make a scope of work based of the importance of being fixed.


Run FactoryTalk SE Application Documenter

You can go through the whole HMI application at once using the application documenter tool however it will stop where there are any ActiveX issues on any of the pages. If it stops then it waits on you to press ok, which just acknowledges that you are aware that there is an error, no worries of any HMI application changes being done from application documenter. The application documenter tool is just a data collection tool and does not change anything.

After it runs then it will give you the whole HMI application in an internet explorer file to be a view but only view on the computer that the documenter is run on, this is the one down side that I see with the documenter tool.

Meaning once the documenter is run and the results page is developed then you are unable to share the documenter results file from computer to computer because it will not run. The documenter file is made just for the computer that it is made on.


Which method is better?

I feel that both using the diagnostic viewer on the RSView Studio software and also the application documenter are most helpful being used in a combination of both. One looks mainly for ActiveX issues and the other is a lot more itemized to give detailed errors.


How often should FactoryTalk View HMI system checks be done?

In my opinion, it relies on how often the HMI application is being editing or as a general stand point every 6 months. If no errors are found then it only takes a few hours to do this work if that.

If problems are found then document them and create a list of what needs to be looked