A large textiles company in the Southern United States has a specialized product line that puts unique demands on their process control hardware and software. Recently the company decided to automate their data collection process to monitor and improve their overall efficiency.
The control system is based on a Delta Tau CNC controller connected to a camera that monitors the machinery. The controller is also connected to an Exor HMI for operator control. This provides adequate control of the process, but the company wanted a better way to monitor the efficiency of the system, and identify potential problems.
Management wanted to gather data each time a machine stopped running-to determine how and why it stopped. At the moment a machine would go off-line, they wanted to record in a database the time, the type of product, and the operator on shift at the time, as well as a few other operating parameters. Previously, this information was collected by hand-an imprecise, tedious, and time-consuming task.
Connecting OPC to SQL Server
The first breakthrough came when the engineering staff discovered that the Exor HMI comes with an OPC server application. This provided them with a way to access data from their production equipment in a Windows environment. Next, a search on the Internet turned up Cogent's OPC DataHub software which offers the OPC to ODBC connection they would need to store the process data in a SQL Server database.
"When we realized that Exor had an OPC server, I thought that's a long way towards the goal," said the project manager. "Then when I found the OPC DataHub on the web, I knew I had the solution in hand."
Using the DataHub's Data Logging interface, they were able to start logging data to SQL Server in a couple of hours. Now each time a machine stops, the OPC DataHub logs the time, product type, operator, and other useful information to the SQL Server database. By making changes in the Data Logging interface, the team can experiment writing data from different OPC tags, using different trigger mechanisms and conditions. And they can use standard SQL clients to query the data.
"With the OPC data going into SQL Server, we can collate and analyze the data to see what is happening and why," said the project manager. "I can gauge the performance of the machines and the people. I'm very pleased with the OPC DataHub. It's quick, precise, and easy to use."
OPC DataHub is a trademark of Cogent Real Time Systems. Software Toolbox is a trademark of Software Toolbox, Inc.