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Windows vs. no Windows Controller?9/9/14
On a NB Machine I see that most have a windows (PC) controller. (I know, "controller isn't the right word. I referring to the part of the machine that the person uses to run the machine) Some just have a Controller (FANUC or whatever). We've had issues in the past with getting old (XP or Win98) PC's when it goes down. Instead of just saying to ourselves "never again" I'm wondering if there's an upside to it that I'm not thinking of. ?? Thoughts please?
Are you asking if there are any options to the interface of windows? We have a fanuc controller the is feed by windows XP and I do think that some day i will need to change the xp interface to windows 7 and I agree that might be a problem so if anyone out ther has done it please chime in.
The biggest problem is that the software installed that talks from the Windows PC to the rest of the machine is designed for the specific hardware installed at the time. 10 years down the road is when the problem happens. The hardware is no longer made, the new software only works with the current hardware the control manufacturer makes. When you have to replace the PC, if it is running a newer operating system. sometimes the driver software, etc. isn't compatible with the interface software. It was designed to be compatible with the software when it was released. In order to upgrade the interface software, then the hardware needs to be also upgraded. When you upgrade the hardware, then the motors and cables need to be upgraded to be compatible with the new hardware.
It can be upgraded, the the biggest problem is the cost involved in upgrading. You can't just upgrade the software due to the fact of it's very close relationship with the hardware and how they interface with each other.
We have a Fanuc control with a Windows 2000 front end. I have had to replace 2 HDD's over the years. The plus side to that is that these operations are do it yourself and parts can be bought locally. The downside is that the O.S. is way past end of support from Microsoft and compatible hardware/drivers are getting difficult to find. My last clean install was a major pain, but ultimately successful. I have a feeling they are never going to get easier. People can argue about it all day long and it comes down to preference. I do prefer a Windows interface for networking, back up, program capacity, and ease of running the machine through a familiar interface. Just my 2 cents.
If I am not mistaken, controllers without Windows front ends also have inherit hardware and software limits with regards to software updates, electronic replacement parts, etc. Their is also no guarantee that a "Window-less" controller will be able to interface with the drive technology available in 10 years from now.
What is probably important from either side is that the machine manufacturer stands behind the controller "package" and plans to support it for as long as realistically possible. It would be good that in the event that the controller ends up needing to be replaced (for whatever reason) years from now, the the machine manufacturer can provide such a retrofit as an alternative and not just a "buy a new machine" solution.
A Windows front end to a Fanuc controller is more user friendly. XP Pro works quite well. There will be a small application to interface with the Fanuc then maybe Excel and as little else as possible. This is not for the operator use surf the net with or play solitare so internet access is not necessary. There are only two kinds of Hard Drives, those that have failed and those that are going to fail, so do not store programs on this machine but on your server that is backed up every night. Also every 6 months make a1 to 1 image of the drive so when it fails you can plug the backup in and be up and running in 30 minutes or less.