- by: Brandon Ellis, elliTek, Inc.
Plant Floor Data - The Simple Way
Updated: Feb 6, 2020
The question of how IT and Controls engineers can easily and reliably move data between database servers and machine controllers located on the manufacturing floor is one that is becoming more and more common. It’s also one which unfortunately weighs heavy on the minds of quiet a few controls and IT engineers as they’re being tasked by plant management to provide such a link. So why the sudden push? In some cases it may be fueled by and internal need for effective and accurate data to be used in order to maximize production efficiencies, reduce scrap levels, or to manage energy usage. Additionally, depending on the industry, manufacturers are also being pushed by their customers to track per piece production processes and quality check results in order to insure that required checks are being performed and the results historically captured.
For years the best (and sometimes only) solution has been an OPC based SCADA software solution. Developed in the mid 90’s, OPC is based upon OLE (Object Linking and Embedding), a document standard developed and released in 1990 by Microsoft Corporation, which enabled the creation of objects within one application that could be linked or embedded into a second. This standard is the basis of OLE for Process Control or OPC.
Though antiquated OPC based systems have proven effective, however, as the demand for data has increased, such systems typically place a large demand on plant area networks due to time-based data sampling between the OPC client and server. This constant data traffic can wreak havoc on existing infrastructure bandwidth requirements requiring costly upgrades. Additionally most OPC based software systems carry a large cost of ownership due to high software and associated integration costs. Lastly, since these systems typically require a Windows based PC in order to function, the point of ultimate responsibility when issues arise can create confusion and sometimes friction between even the closest of IT and engineering departments.
Having dealt with both sides of these issues, and since a 'better' solution wasn't available, our company set out to create a solution - now, after more than a year of development, testing, and patent work, the first ever dedicated MES Gateway Appliance has been released! Based upon the need for a simplified industrial platform that does not require a PC based environment and can be setup without the need for outside expertise, the Data Commander™ was created. Built using a proprietary, secure platform, the device is the first standalone, point-and-click MES Gateway allowing data to be moved between machine controllers and devices and enterprise level databases in minutes versus days. Further, since the Data Commander's platform is event based, data is transferred only when an event occurs and not on a timed basis resulting in efficient use of existing infrastructure. Each of these items resulting in large costs savings for any manufacturer wishing to attain a dependable means of tracking data within their manufacturing processes.
Please feel free to visit us at http://www.TheDataCommander.com!