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Siemens has developed touch panels for the SINUMERIK 840D sl and 828D that meet the special requirements of the industrial workplace and can be intuitively operated using specific gestures.


Smartphones, tablets, ATMs, info terminals – we now use touchscreens throughout our daily lives without thinking much about it. However, the potential of touch panels is enormous in the industrial environment: They not only make operating plants much faster and easier; they also increase the number of control options. The elimination of buttons and controllers on PLCs also makes it possible to install considerably larger screens. All of the many mechanical elements of a control system are always visible at the same time – whereas with touch panels, the user only sees the control elements that are necessary or useful for the relevant situation, or for the currently selected process or dialog box.

However, in harsh industrial environments touch panels are confronted with additional requirements. Panels for industrial use have to be especially robust, scratch-resistant, and anti-reflective. It is also important that they can be operated while wearing gloves. Dust, shavings, dirt, and lubricants must not impair either operability or service life. Finally, the gestures needed for operation must, wherever possible, offer all of the functions that are already established in the consumer sector, such as swiping and scrolling using fingers.

Robust and easy to operate

Siemens has taken on these challenges and developed efficient touch panels for SINUMERIK 840D sl and 828D CNCs. Thanks to the use of new technologies, these touch panels are suitable for the tough, dirty industrial environment and can be operated while wearing gloves. One further advantage is that the new touch panels are very robust. The SINUMERIK touch panels boast all of the features of state-of-the-art touch panels in the consumer sector when it comes to gesture recognition. Siemens touch panels are multi-touch compatible and have an extra useful feature in their “heel of hand recognition”: operators can lean on the control system while programming without the gesture being misinterpreted and hindering operation.

Especially convenient

The touch panels offer more advantages besides simplified operation. A mouse and keyboard are no longer required. The intelligent scroll function (swipe up or down with one finger) provides access to the CNC parameters and subprograms quickly and easily. The multi-touch capability also speeds up operation even more: Scroll with two fingers to move page by page, or use three fingers to jump straight to the start or end of the program.

The greatest benefit becomes clear when using simulation in SINUMERIK Operate: During simulation, it is possible to zoom in and out, rotate, and move the workpiece using gestures. These functions provide users with an overview, allowing them to immediately detect errors in programming. Another example is working with the integrated DXF reader in SINUMERIK Operate. The touch panel makes the scanned drawings simpler to process because contours can be selected and edited easily using the finger. The use of touch panels in the industry opens up a wealth of new opportunities. For example, it is now possible to implement innovative operating concepts. Thus, touch panels ensure additional convenience on the shopfloor.

Intuitive gesture-based operation: smartOperate

SINUMERIK PLCs with touch panels are intuitive to operate. Tapping, swiping, and sliding motions have the effects that we are already familiar with (and expect!) from using smartphones and tablets. The panels’ quick and easy gesture-based operation with multi-touch capability is therefore known as “smartOperate.”