Imagine being able to check the status of all plant processing equipment merely by surfing the web, or being able to integrate controls on a piece of equipment as easily as the plug-and-play components of a computer. A step in that direction is the use of a series of controllers, panel meters, transmitters and signal conditioners having an embedded Web server, which allows direct connection to an Ethernet network without requiring a PC server. The direct connection eliminates a level of system complexity and cost, and alternatively offers system monitoring and process control through a standard web browser from anywhere within a facility or from anywhere in the world. The iSeries Internet devices (Newport Electronics Inc.) connect directly to an Ethernet LAN (local area network) using a standard RJ-45 connector and can send and receive data in standard TCP/IP protocol, a standard for exchanging data over the Internet. The devices can serve as web pages, can have a specific name, such as "Oven1" or "Carb1," etc., and can have an IP address that makes it accessible to authorized personnel from virtually any Internet ready device.
Extensive remote capabilities are possible for process monitoring and troubleshooting. For example, temperature controllers can monitor and/or control a heating system, set points and alarm points can be modified, and heating systems can be turned on and off from anywhere on the local network or from anywhere on the Internet. Other tasks also are possible. Many manufacturing facilities already are equipped with similar system capabilities. However, the difference is that the iSeries Internet devices connect directly to the Ethernet network, and are not slave devices connected to the serial port of a master computer.