"It seems to be a good fit for mobility and usability," D'Aoust says.
Of course, there are some improvements still to be made. The app has a multi-step login to the VPN and control system, and these connections break whenever an operator checks email or runs another app. GE Intelligent Platforms is working on maintaining connections in the background, D'Aoust says.
Also, many operators aren't technically savvy and might get stuck in portrait mode on the iPad, yet the app only renders appropriately in landscape mode. Or operators might accidentally update iOS using their Apple password on the company iPad before ProficySCADA has been tested for compatibility.
Spending months to install a new VPN, adopting a new app and training a half-dozen operators seems like a lot of work for a single enterprise iPad. Yet Haverhill's water treatment plant understands that there is much more to the iPad than flipping through presentation slides or playing Angry Birds.
As the Haverhill water plant has proven, the iPad opens up a new era of enterprise mobility at the industrial level.
"We might get one or two more for use in the plant, so operators aren't tied down to the control room," D'Aoust says. "They can access information as they inspect the plant on their rounds, maybe collect some data."
Tom Kaneshige covers Apple and Consumerization of IT for CIO.com. Follow Tom on Twitter @kaneshige. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline and on Facebook. Email Tom at email@example.com
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