Hidden Costs of License Enforcement

If you ever worked with the big named software, then most likely you dealt with license keys, dongles, or activations. Software companies invest a lot of effort and money to ensure that you do not use their software without paying for it. When problems arise with their license enforcing system, it can cause a lot of down time and wasted time for the end user. When this happens, you have to ask yourself… what is the software company’s top priority, them getting your money or helping you solve your problem?

I recently worked with a Wonderware system that was handed to me to help support. Through a series of events one of the license activations stopped working and the software came to a screeching halt. This resulted in 2 days of system down time and 12 man hours to troubleshoot and fix the issue. Put an estimated cost to this and it would easily exceed $2000. This would be one of the unforeseen costs of using software with strict license enforcement.

When considering software to be used for your next system, don’t forget to account for the hidden cost of time required to deal with their license enforcement scheme. Also ask yourself the question…. Is this software company putting priority on my interests or their profits?

Top 10 Reasons AdvancedHMI is a Better Choice

10. Economics – Without run time or development costs, additional deployments do not keep adding cost

9. Openness – Top level open source lets you modify components or look at examples on how to create your own.

8. Extensibility – Do not get caught in a “I can’t do that” situation. The AdvancedHMI platform let’s you extend to any task necessary

7. Support – Built on .NET technology which has the largest support network far beyond any other HMI/SCADA software on the market

6. Universal Platform – Once you learn .NET and Visual Studio, you are not limited to HMI/SCADA development. The platform will let you create any kind of application such as database systems.

5. Non-Proprietary – Based on Windows, AdvancedHMI will not get you locked into a single vendor’s proprietary hardware. It only takes one time of not being able to get the exact replacement and seeing days of expensive down time to understand why non-proprietary makes sense.

4. More Future Proof – Microsoft has shown a long term commitment to the .NET platform with a strong 15+ years of development and still strong development investmemt for years to come. It only takes one time of a 5+ years old PanelView or Red Lion HMI going bad and discovering it is no longer available and can cost days of down time to upgrade.

3. Fast to Get Started – Just look at the quick start and you will see it is possibly the fastest HMI package to get started with.

2. Fastest Performance – Check the benchmarks and you will see that AdvancedHMI is far faster than any others with refresh rates as fast as 5ms.

1 – No License Nuisances – Don’t get caught with your pants down when your HMI suddenly decides the license is not valid and will not work. AdvancedHMI does not require license or activations.


BONUS – Since AdvancedHMI is merely a Windows application, if your control engineer is out, your IT (or any computer saavy person) can easily help with it. Try that with a PanelView, Red Lion, Wonderware, etc and the only thing you will get is more down time as everyone points to the control engineer.

Does Your HMI Vendor Keep Your Business By Choice or Force?

Consider this…… If a vendor is confident their product is the best, would they go through effort to lock you into their hardware/software? This is what happens all the time. Take a look at any hardware based HMI you have used and ask this question….. If this fails, do I have the option to replace it with another vendor’s product without going through a major re-write? If the answer is “no”, then there is a good chance the vendor is putting your money as top priority through forced repeat business.

AdvancedHMI has always put your best interests as a priority. If you use one of our HMI panels, and it happens to fail, you are not obligated to replace it with our hardware. If you use AdvancedHMI software, it will run on hundreds of different panels made by countless vendors giving you open choices and the fastest path to acquiring a replacement.

Manufacturing Automation is also a system integration company with a lot of time spent on the factory floor. We understand very well the importance of machine up time, therefore we offer a product line with the best interest of control engineers in mind. We believe strongly in our product line and feel that you will come back as a repeat customer by your own choice, therefore we do not feel the need to trap you into a proprietary system.

If AdvancedHMI Is Free, How Do You Make Money?

This is a question asked quite frequently, so I wanted to explain how AdvancedHMI can be free. The parent company behind the AdvancedHMI software is a company named Manufacturing Automation which is based out of South Carolina. Manufacturing Automation is a system integration company that does various things such as software development, control system design, electrical panel design, PLC programming, etc. In order to better serve customers and provide them exactly with systems they request, the AdvancedHMI software began it’s development in 2006. The software was originally intended for internal use only. After a few years, a decision was made to publish the software and let others use it for free. The driving factors behind this decision was believing that a larger user base meant the software would be more extensively testes and it would be a great way to show our capabilities in software development. Along the way this model hit a few bumps and was refined, but has proven to reach the intended goals.

Although one of the primary purposes was to be used as a marketing tool, it has missed target slightly and became more of a stand-alone product with less association to the parent company of Manufacturing Automation. Instead of forcing the association, it was decided to let it continue the path of becoming viewed as a separate product. In the future you will begin to see more things to expand the AdvancedHMI product line such as various hardware that has been tested and proven for use with AdvancedHMI.

But for right now, the primary income generating business of Manufacturing Automation is its system integration projects. Therefore it continues to be possible to publish AdvancedHMI for free. The future roadmap continues down this path as we want to offer freedom and flexibility that no other HMI/SCADA vendor has ever offered before.

Can AdvancedHMI do this?

I am frequently asked questions about the capabilities of AdvancedHMI. If asking whether it can do a certain task, the answer will always be yes. Since AdvancedHMI is merely a toolset for creating applications with Visual Studio, any software that can be created with C#, VB, or any language supported by VS can be done with AdvancedHMI.

A more appropriate question to ask would “How much effort does it take to do this with AdvancedHMI?”. If a tool is already created for the task, it will most likely be very easy to do. If the tool does not exist, then the amount of effort will vary on how complex the task.

So if someone asks whether AdvancedHMI can do a certain task, the appropriate response would be…. Maybe you are meaning to ask how easy is it to do this task with AdvancedHMI.

How Fast is AdvancedHMI? Communication Speed

The AdvancedHMI drivers have been repeatedly refined to tap every microsecond of speed possible. This has taken AdvancedHMI to the top when looking at communication speed and efficiency. To demonstrate this, a quick test was conducted to measure the speed and compare it to another well known hardware based HMI (because I wanted to “See More”).

The test was very simple. Add a single numeric display and tell the driver to update as fast as possible. In AdvancedHMI this is done by setting the PollRateOverride to 0. Then a Wireshark capture was done and analyzed to get a measure of how many milliseconds it took between each update of the value. And here are the results:

  • Competitor’s hardware based HMI (Priced at $1290) – Update times 21-23ms
  • AdvancedHMI – Update times 5-6ms

Depending on how you calculate it, this competitor’s model took 4 times as long between updates or AdvancedHMI was 200% faster.

Not only are the panels we offer and software lower in cost, but they outperform the competition easily in the area of communication speed capabilities.

Watch for more blog posts showing how AdvancedHMI exceeds the competitor’s in many ways