In this post I want to talk about one of our partners. Wonderware is a leading supplier of industrial software for manufacturing operations. Its solutions are used in approximately 125,000 plants worldwide. Wonderware recognized that many of its customers lacked efficient communications tools within their organizations. Kathleen Regan, Director of Strategic Alliances for Wonderware, says, “We have technology that can identify literally in microseconds whether a machine needs maintenance, but it might take hours for someone to decide whether to address the problem immediately or to wait a week. Those kinds of decisions have to be made by people, and industrial software doesn’t easily support decision-making processes.” Wonderware saw an opportunity to provide these capabilities within their products.
Instead of designing the capabilities itself, Wonderware worked with Microsoft to integrate Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 R2 technology (now Microsoft Lync with the 2010 release) directly into its InTouch process control solutions. Now its customers have many new communications capabilities to help resolve issues quickly and minimize downtime at the production facilities. Presence information for key contacts appears directly on production control screens, and operators can start instant messaging sessions and audio and video conversations, as needed. With desktop sharing, operators can also share the control screen and even give control to a supervisor.
Key contacts with presence information are integrated directly into the InTouch process control screens.
Wonderware built in some really effective automation as well. When the process generates an alarm, the software sends an instant message to the operator and selected employees so that they can begin troubleshooting immediately. Operators can interface directly with the InTouch software from the chat window to pull diagnostic information from equipment and display to the other employees in the conversation. Participants can even control equipment directly from Communicator.
In this picture, the operator used the BOT to pull diagnostic information into the chat window and then initiated desktop sharing so the supervisor could see the InTouch control screen.
Because Wonderware can selectively implement particular Office Communications Server 2007 R2 components, it can more easily modify its industrial software. “This capability gives us room to provide a lot of added value with additional features and benefits in our own software,” says Regan. “It makes modifications much faster and easier than if we had to design the functionality ourselves.”
I really like this solution because I find it amazing how powerful the integration between communication tools and workplace software can be. Immediately getting the process control information to the people who can act on it will greatly reduce downtime. Wonderware is a great software company, so we are happy it chose to use Microsoft technology rather than developing its own solution. The APIs we provide with Office Communications Server and now with Microsoft Lync Server 2010 make it easy for our partners to integrate communications capabilities into their solutions so that they can focus on what they do best.
Product Manager, Microsoft Lync