Today is...
Friday, November 28, 2014
Welcome to, the global online
community of automation professionals.
Featured Video...
Featured Video
Wiring and programming your servos and I/O just got a lot easier...
Our Advertisers
Help keep our servers running...
Patronize our advertisers!
Visit our Post Archive
Mk V 3rd party HMI experiences?
I'd like feedback from those that have upgraded Mark V HMI's with aftermarket solutions.

I've done a lot of reading of past posts. I am considering upgrading our HMI's on our two MarkV steam turbine controllers and EX2000. They were installed around 2001 and have WinNT4.0 with 2 HMI's, 2 viewers, and 1 historian. I believe I have two never used spare HMI "black boxes" from around 2000 at another site that can keep us up and running if one of the 10yr old units decides to croak. I've been keeping up with harddrive backups etc. My worry is hardware failure.

I would like feedback from people that have installed aftermarket solutions. I only am considering systems that would directly communicate with the MkV from my research, this would be:

1) GCI from Global Controls
2) TMOS from ITS
3) ITC from CSE Engineering

Thank you.

Hello Jay,

if we are talking about third party HMIs only, I would recommend on TMOS from ITS. Their solution is based on direct communication with MKV controllers over stagelink on a very low level of the protocol and therefore enhancing the lack of low data rates and trending capability of GE's standard HMI. TMOS comes with all known GE standard MKV engineering tools (RUNG DISPLAY, RUNG EDITOR, CONSTANT ADJUST e.g.) a GE servive guy (or someone who is just used to work on MKV-speedtronics) would expect. The trending/historian is one of the best parts of TMOS. Recording data and analyzing data with multiple Y-axis and high time resolution down to the minimum sequencing frame (10 ms) with event triggering is not a big issue with TMOS. ITS will base the new screens on the existing ones. In addition the installations I have seen also make a very good impression when it comes to the hardware. A TMOS system normally is set up in a server/client structure. The server technology is very progressive and makes use of modern, state of the art IT servers from HP e.g. (minimum RAID-5) in very robust and reliable designed cabinets. And this is something you will never get from a industrial manufacturer today. If you buy a HMI from GE you will get all the software and tools needed to visualize and control a turbine, that's for sure, but in the end it is installed on nothing more than a standard PC contained in a 19 inch case, making it look very reliable and specialized for tough industrial environments. But belive me, it is nothing more than a PC you can get from the next supermarket when you have a look inside. The reason I highlight this is because you mentioned your concearns regarding hardware failures. I absolutely agree with you that you always have to consider both, software *AND* hardware. What is the benefit of the best software application when it black-outs due to a simple failure of a fan or power supply or a harddrive-crash after 1 or two years of operation??

And let me tell you this story: we ordered to HMI systems at GE based on WinXP for a MKV control panel. The order was in september last year, the delivery was in june 2010(!) and for the price one can probably afford two or three TMOS-systems or one mercedes benz.

So if you just want to replace the HMIs and not the whole control system, you should ask ITS to give you a proposal.

But if you think about a complete retrofit of the total MKV-system I would go for MKVIe with the latest Cimplicity/ToolboxST software package, including the HMI-systems. Belive it or not, with the MKVIe-control system GE made a very big step forward and even Cimplictiy today is not he same as it was in 2001. I had the chance to attend a FAT at GE to get a real, personal impression of the MKVIe, ToolboxSt and the latest version of Cimplicity. I also had the chance to "play" with it for a while and it only took me 10 minutes from creating a new variable in the sequence program, compiling it, loading it, publishing it on the HMI server to make it available in Cimplicity to have a little dynamic symbol blinking on the sreen or a new value in the trending system. And 10 minutes is a good time, especially when you think of trying this with a MKV for example.

So, if you would like to have some more detailed information about TMOS or MKVIe don't hesitate to ask me for it here or just give me your e-mail-adress!

I Hope I could be of some help!
Bye the way, I've never seen or heard about the GCI or ITC-systems. Maybe someone else can tell us something about them here.

Best regards,

Yes Marco, It's true we had replaced 5 DOS to GE HMI, it took one and half year to deliver after given order. Compare to other third party HMI, GE HMI is very costlier. (but it may have other advantages, i am not sure??)


Thanks for the info on TMOS. My understanding is that the GCI and TCI systems operate with the same method--they both directly communicate with MkV using Stagelink Arcnet.

I see no benefit in upgrading to MkVe, unless giving money to GE is considered a benefit. Our company actually has two never installed complete MkV systems from ~2000: cabinets, all controllers, I/O cards, 2 HMIs. The plan was to install them on some gas turbines but it never happened (way before my time). My plan is to now just use these as spare parts.

So I/O and core wise, we have plenty of spares. It's just the HMI's that worry me. I grew up building and tinkering with computers, but GE likes to make everything proprietary so I don't think I can just put WinNT 4.0 on a normal computer and load the HD image and run with a standard Arcnet card.

In theory I have 4 backup HMI's (two viewers and two HMI's from never installed system), but I think there is benefit from upgrading to new software in regards to trending and remote monitoring.

I'm very pleased with the MkV controller side and see no reason to upgrade it. I don't see spares being a problem for at least 10-15 more years.

Is there a way to private message on this forum? Posting my email is asking for spam!

Dear Jay,

please have a close look at this thread:

There you will find a hint to my e-mail address if you would like to have some more information!

Best regards,


By Mohd Shabidin on 27 July, 2010 - 10:56 pm

Dear Marco,

Our plant already has alternative HMI from a supplier since 3 years ago..

We are now in the planning to upgrade our Mark V. In our group, we have few Mark VI but so far no experience on Mark VIe. Do you have any hands on experience with Mark VIe?

Mohd Shabidin
mohdshabidin [at]

Dear Mohd,

as I already mentioned I had the chance to touch the MKVIe and to play with it for one complete day with a GE supervisor (and he was a brilliant guy!) giving my all the answers to my questions. My impression of MKVIe was (and still is), that the MKVIe is a very integrated, reliable, safe and open system. With the introduction of ethernet-based I/O-net, switching-technology and their new "I/O-packs" GE really cleaned up their control panels. Actually, the outer look of the latest speedtronic is very similar to a PLC-system, due to it's very compact and modular design. It even supports Profibus-DP and therefore direct communication to third party I/O-modules like ET200M from SIEMENS. I think the only feature which is still missing in the current MKVIe-module-family is an intrinsically-safe I/O-input-module. This is why we currently work together with GE on testing the compatibility between a MKVIe-Profibus-Pack and SIEMENS ET200M I/O-Modules. If it works and (if GE certify this as an approved solution) we would have the advantage to get rid of all those additional zener-/Safety-barriers, needed for signals coming from hazardous (Ex)-areas. This would clean up the cabinets even more.

Unfortunately, I don't have any real, practical, long-term experience with MKVIe on an engine being already in operation and I know a lot of people who are quite sceptical about this very new Speedtronic-system because it is a bit "revolutionary" and in fact does not have a lot in common with the MKVI. But probably we will use the MKVIe in the beginning of next year for a PGT25-DLE and then I can tell you more about it.

Best wishes,


I am not thoroughly familiar with GCI or TMOS. But I am in the process of researching these interfaces. However, what I do know is that they use the existing TCI/Cimbridge/Cimplicity architecture. <ITC> speaks directly to the Mk V over Stagelink BUT is not dependant upon Cimplicity, Cimbridge or TCI. I would suggest that you visit <ITC>'s website - - and see how it works for yourself.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have.

To clear up some acronyms, GCI appears to be a typographical error, missing the "carats" for the product of Global Controls ( <GCI>. It does use CIMPLICITY as the main graphical interface, similar to the GE Mark V HMI. I don't know if <GCI> requires TCI or CIMBRIDGE (see below).

TCI is GE's acronym for 'Turbine Control Interface' a MS-Windows service that runs in the background and is part of the package that allows a PC running MS-Windows and GE-Fanuc CIMPLICITY to use an internal ARCnet card to communicate with Mark V Speedtronic turbine control panels. TCI seems to need "help" communicating with CIMPLICITY and the Mark V (see below).

CIMBRIDGE (CIMPLICITY BRIDGE) is a GE-proprietary "intermediary" program on a GE Mark V HMI running MS-Windows allowing the PC and CIMPLICITY to communicate with Mark V turbine control panels. It kind of acts as a go-between between TCI and CIMPLICITY. (Isn't this fun?!!??)

I believe, but I don't have any information to support my belief, that TMOS (Turbine MOnitoring System) is also a proprietary MS-Windows 'service', or possibly an application, that allows a PC with an ARCnet card to communicate directly with a Mark V turbine control panel. It is the product of ITS GmbH (Industrial Turbine Services, see their website at; look under Products/Services, TMOS (HMI) for more information). Per Marco, above (like the avatar, Marco!), it is a direct replacement for any Mark V operator interface, handling all the functions of a GE Mark V operator interface.

CSE Engineering has been a past advertiser here on, and their website is posted elsewhere in this thread. Their <ITC> product (IBECS Turbine Control) is also a direct replacement for any GE Mark V operator interface and can be used to communicate directly with a Mark V, as well as natively with a large number of PLCs and other control systems. <ITC> does not require TCI or CIMBRIDGE. It has all the downloading/uploading, LVDT calibration, Control Constant change, rung display, etc. It's even rumored to be capable of communicating with GE EX2000 exciters (which I don't know if the GCS or ITS offerings do; perhaps someone can clarify that for us).

Something else it's rumored to do is to be able to quickly duplicate GE Mark V <I> displays, so that there is very little re-training of operators necessary for basic turbine control and monitoring.

One more thing about the <ITC> is that CSE Engineering have previously stated that no PROM changes are required for satisfactory operation of their system (something GE usually has to do and which can lead to a lot of problems, not to mention downtime to install).

There are a couple of vendors who have OPC offerings, but while they may communicate directly with the Mark V they are incapable of doing the configuration functions (including downloading/uploading, LVDT calibration, rung display, sequence editing, etc.). They do appear to have some high speed data-gathering capabilities to feed some nifty trending programs, but one would need to keep an <I> or a GE Mark V HMI around for the "heavy" work.

I believe that pretty much sums up the options for Mark V operator interfaces available to date. And hopefully clears up some of the acronyms and gobbledy-gook.

I don't know if we can get any of the vendors to state how many of their Mark V operator interface HMIs are currently running; it would be nice to know when making a decision. Perhaps you could contact them individually, Jay, and get some references for existing installations to help you make your decision.

And let us know how you progress with your decision-making!

By Mohd Shabidin on 29 July, 2010 - 4:27 am

From my work on TMOS, I see that TMOS does not depend on TCI/Cimbridge/Cimplicity architecture.

By Mohd Shabidin on 27 July, 2010 - 10:46 pm

Dear J,

Hi there. I am Mohd Shabidin.

We have 15 systems of 3rd party HMI in our plant. It has been slightly more than 3 years now since commissioning.

However, due to our company policy, I am not allowed to discuss openly the pros & cons on any of our suppliers' products and services.

I will give my comments to you vide email discussion.

Mohd Shabidin
mohdshabidin[at] gmail [dot] com

Thanks, I'll be in contact with those of you that offered your opinions.

Sorry for the delay, I've been very bush with a post-outage startup. I have contacted Global Controls and CSE and received some information.

This isn't an immediate need, but I'm just researching. The other thing is that we may be upgrading our boiler controls and burner management system to DCS--I don't know how the turbine control will fall into that.

On a side note, the two "spare" HMI's that I thought I have are windows units, but they have both ISA and PCI slots. The arcnet cards are ISA. Installed HMI's use PCI. I heard people will pay a pretty penny for ISA cards......