Wednesday, April 24, 2024

We’ve Come a Long Ways with Interfaces: Watlow F4T

Analog programmer/controllers have been around for decades. Go into any antique electronics shop or part warehouse stocking old equipment, and you’re going to find everything to operate with including knobs, switches, sliders and buttons. For probably most of the 20th century, these assemblies worked fine. However, when the computer age arrived, capabilities expanded. And that required better interface controls. For a bit, analog parts could be programmed for different settings, but eventually a better interface was needed. Ergo, the keyboard arrived.

Unfortunately, the keyboards for controllers were a truncated system for just numbers. Type in a code and it would reference a pre-determined table of commands. True digital interaction wasn’t possible yet. Eventually, better screens, more interface button options, and more commands were included, but hanging onto analog was still part of the industrial culture. It worked, it was reliable, and analog controls seemed to be more dependable in factory environments.

The technology for better interfaces has been available for a while, but it has taken a culture change in the industrial setting to engage with better controller management. Part of that was a convincing process where systems and factory floor managers could see a touch screen was just as viable and even more capable than an analog controller.

Today, the Watlow F4T is a culmination of a lot of work, design and effort to prove that digital controls are just as effective and even more powerful than the age-old analog controllers of yesterday. Even better, what might have taken a dozen controllers can be handled in one Watlow unit with plenty of room to add even more capability.

Combining both touch-screen and Ethernet connections, the Watlow F4T provides users easy direct interaction as well as remote control and, for trend analysis, datalogging as well. With USB as well as RS-232/485 connections, data transfer is standard, and Ethernet as well as direct input provide full capacity for programming, interface, and script input.

The Watlow F4T includes delayed programming activation as well, plus it meets industry standards including UL/CUL and CE for compatibility. Multiple alarm functions allow for simultaneous tracking and triggers, and the interface can be used for additional programming while current systems are in full operation mode.

Of course, equipment alone is not enough. The ideal package comes with assistance, guidance on installation, and customer support in the long-run. This is the partnership between Watlow and Seagate Controls. Because our specialists are specifically versed in the technical aspects of F4Ts for different applications, we’re not only able to help with answering planning questions for controller changes or add-ons, we’re also readily available to help with troubleshooting and support after the fact as well. This critical difference is why our Watlow partnership matters so much for our customers, and it’s also why folks keep coming back to Seagate Controls versus other choices on the market. At Seagate Controls we’re never going to say we’re the “best,” that egoistical; but we definitely raise the bar in high-quality programmers and controllers and the support needed to make them a system success. Call us about your needs and we’ll walk you through how the Watlow F4T can help.

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