Saturday, August 26, 2006

Integrating PCs and PLCs

PC potential is constantly expanding, with the explosive growth in IT spawning a whole new generation of highly reliable, rugged and functional industrial PCs
The boundaries of performance for PC control are constantly expanding, with the explosive growth in information technology spawning a whole new generation of highly reliable, rugged and functional industrial PCs, that offer seamless integration with machinery, automation systems and processes. The industrial PC is now viewed as much more than a tool for visualisation and data acquisition. Providing an open and powerful hardware platform, industrial PCs are now being increasingly integrated with software PLCs for control.

The result being powerful automation control solutions that do not require a second processor or complex hardware additions, as with many conventional PLCs.

For example, traditional automation and control systems typically comprise a number of hardware and software elements.

They include a PC for process visualisation, hard PLCs with coprocessor cards, coprocessor PLCs, I/O via field bus, motion control via parallel cabling and a selection of software operating systems and programming languages.

The disadvantage of this approach being both high hardware and software costs, complexity of system design and build, plus in many applications, limited functionality.

With the introduction of software based solutions providing PLC functionality direct from the PC, the advantages are significant, including a centralised structure, reduced hardware costs, fewer interfaces, easy upgrade paths, full integration and high reliability.

In essence, a PC based 'soft' PLC encompasses a programming system, one or several run time environments and an I/O link that is established by a field bus.

Typically, a user interface is realised with visualisation programs, SCADA or with Visual Basic/Visual C programs.

The performance of software solutions for the PLC on the PC exceed the performance of hardware based systems, with measured speeds improving in line with the increasing capabilities of processor technology.

On an AMD K6/200 system, for example, only 17├Žs is needed to execute 1000 PLC commands.

In addition, operating parameters such as program size, flag memory and process image size are virtually unrestricted.

One example of PLC on the PC integration is the Beckhoff TwinCAT system.

Running on the latest 32-bit PC technology, TwinCAT enables 32 Mbytes of PLC programs, with 4 Mbytes flag memory, controlling up to 64,000 I/O points to be easily achieved.

A conventional PLC processes programs cyclically, with inputs and outputs alternating with the processing of programs.

Execution of programs in a software based PLC solution, such as TwinCAT, is basically the same; i.e accurately timed, deterministic cycles of equal length, with the user interface being executed in the cycle pauses, for which computing capacity is reserved.

The majority of PC/PLC control solutions run under Windows NT.

Problems can be experienced as NT is not truly capable of real time operation.

In effect, Windows NT is designed for optimised performance and not for control purposes, with control tasks being interrupted by events such as network operation, hard disk access and mouse movements.

However manufacturers such as Beckhoff have developed an effective solution, by working with Microsoft to develop its architecture as an independent real time extension for Windows NT, in the form of a kernel mode driver.

With this kernel extension, TwinCAT operates on an exact time basis which executes programs with maximum priority and independently of other processor tasks that NT may be running.

This approach is particularly advantageous, as it means that NT is not modified (patched) which occurs with some other PC based PLC solutions.

Control systems engineers and developers worldwide can purchase Windows NT from any Microsoft sales channel and construct an effective and completely integrated, management, production and automation control solution on the PC.

Hayes Control Systems is offering readers of Automation a CD, containing a free 30 day trial of its TwinCAT software solution for PLC and NC motion control on the PC

Simulation streamlines metal refinery

Lanner Group's WITNESS simulation tools are helping the precious metals refiner Inco Europe to streamline processes and improve yields at its plant in Acton, West London.
Lanner Group's WITNESS simulation tools are helping the precious metals refiner Inco Europe to streamline processes and improve yields at its plant in Acton, West London. WITNESS has also helped to reduce the necessity for extra capital expenditure and has supported the business case for new investment at the refinery. WITNESS was first used to investigate the proposed investment to upgrade a chemical treatment circuit.

The simulation showed that the required capacity increase could be achieved simply by adjusting the shift patterns and using a different chemical - thus obviating the need for capital expenditure.

WITNESS is also being used to plan the upgrade of one of the final treatment plants.

The simulation proved that replacing one large furnace with two smaller units would increase processing flexibility and give a more efficient materials flow.

The model predicts significant improvements to yields and energy efficiency, with a reduction in emissions.

WITNESS has helped, too, in proving the case for investment in new reaction vessels to greatly enhance flexibility and capacity.

Elsewhere in the refinery WITNESS has been used to study the impact of changes to materials flow, and to identify hidden bottlenecks in specific areas.

It is also being used to model the entire plant at high level, serving as a valuable predictive tool to examine the effects of possible future business on plant operations.

Lanner Group specializes in helping organisations achieve rapid and effective business transformation.

Established in 1996 through a management buyout, Lanner is widely acknowledged as the world's pioneering leader in business simulation and optimization.

Today Lanner offers a unique added-value combination of these powerful predictive technology solutions with top-level specialist consultancy expertise.

Based in the United Kingdom with subsidiaries and partners in Europe, The Americas and the Far East, Lanner has a worldwide customer-based of more than 30,000 top multinational companies.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Try out PLC and NC motion software for free

Hayes Control Systems is launching a new CD containing a free 30 day trial of its Beckhoff's TwinCAT 2.7, the software system for PLC and NC motion control functions.
Hayes Control Systems is launching a new CD containing a free 30 day trial of its Beckhoff's TwinCAT 2.7, the software system for PLC and NC motion control functions.

Trial users can capitalise on the benefits of the TwinCAT 2.7, a pure software solution with complete integration of high real-time tasks within Windows NT.

The free CD also offers a comprehensive source of information on the complete range of Beckhoff products including: Industrial PCs and Bus Terminal technology along with FAQs, training, contacts and after sales support information.

Cards allow optimum access to SERCOS interface

Hayes Control Systems has launched two new PC Fieldbus cards specifically for SERCOS applications, the FC7501 and FC7502.
Hayes Control Systems has launched two new PC Fieldbus cards specifically for SERCOS applications, the FC7501 and FC7502. The new cards extend the diverse range of PCI-based Beckhoff products, offering solutions for fast bus drives to all users of complex access controls. Allowing optimum access to the SERCOS interface, the driver for the passive FC7501 (one channel) and FC7502 (two channel) cards is incorporated into TwinCAT, the powerful PC-based automation control software solution from Hayes.

By using the new Fieldbus cards together with bus terminals as I/O systems, digital servo drives and TwinCAT as PLC/NC software, it is possible to achieve a complete PC-based control system for the SERCOS interface.

With the new cards users experience no limitations with regards to the number of bus devices and I/O data per unit, making large SERCOS projects of more than 50 axes possible.

To do so, several PCs need to be synchronised via SERCOS, with one PC acting as master and other PCs as 'slaves'.

In such situations the FC7502 twin-channel card can generate one master ring and one slave ring, with the parameterisation of the master/slave mode carried out simply and efficiently through the software.

To complete its SERCOS offering Hayes has also introduced the Beckhoff SERCOS BK7500 Bus Coupler, enabling SERCOS' high deterministic function to be used for classic I/O technology.

This additional feature allows users in the machine construction industry, with high-drive and low I/O consumption, to dispense with the installation of an additional bus.

With up to 254 devices (axes or I/O modules via Bus Coupler) a fast data exchange via cycle times of up to 62.5 usec, and a transmission rate of 2 and 4 Mbaud, the FC7501 and FC7502 are a valuable addition to the Hayes Control Systems range.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

HMI combines ease of use with reliability

100 point HMI combines ease of use, reliability, flexibility and an open systems architecture in a package that is both upgradeable to SCADA and easily customized.

A typical 100 point HMI for just GBP 400, supported by 130 major drivers and complete with a free development system, is what Citect is offering the system integration market with its new CitectHMIO. Based upon Citect's award winning SCADA software, the new HMI is the ideal product for price competitive OEMs. It combines ease of use, reliability, flexibility and an open systems architecture in a package that is both upgradeable to SCADA and easily customized to meet individual user requirements.

CitectHMIO is a powerful entry level HMI software, developed specifically for machine, plant and equipment builders who require a flexible, easy-to-use operator interface solution that can be quickly tailored to end user needs.

Using the CitectHMI, OEMs can gain a real competitive advantage by reducing planning, development and commissioning times and consequent time to market.

CitectHMI offers OEMs the benefits of all-in-one functionality with a package that includes essential SCADA functions such as process visualization, alarm processing, trending reporting and statistical process control (SPC).

Designed primarily for standalone applications requiring 100, 300 or 600 I/O points, the software includes a wide variety of driver and connectivity options, up to three of the former being accommodated at any one time from an extensive library extending to 130 named vendors.

In the unlikely event that the driver required is not in the library, then it possible for the OEM to write his own using Citect's Driver Development Kit.

Complementing CitectHMI's powerful SCADA functions are features that make the HMI simple to configure and easy to use and customize.

These include Customisable Installation, Online Runtime Language Switching to support global customers, OLE Automation for automated building of graphics pages, CiCode and CitectVBA programming languages, and graphical elements such as Genies, Super Genies and ActiveX objects.

The provision of industry standard graphical symbols, together with pre-configured templates equips the CitectHMI with a clear development package that ensures the expenditure required for product planning and commissioning is reduced to the minimum.

In addition, the integration of customized applications is made easy through the use of CitectVBA and standardised interfaces such as OPC, OLE Automation and ActiveX-Support.

Although essentially a tool for standalone applications, CitectHMI offers the benefits of a scalable solution, in that it can be upgraded easily into full CitectSCADA, one of the world's leading industrial automation software packages.

The wider possibilities of using CitectHMI are also evident from the connectivity options that enable third party applications to access data from the HMI, seamlessly, to integrate with existing control solutions.

The scope of this access even extends to efficient, long distance monitoring of processes via the Internet.

About Citect - Citect is a worldwide leader in industrial automation and information management.

The company's CitectSCADA and Plant2Business software are complemented by professional services, customer support and training.

These solutions are enhanced by strong partner programs and are sold in numerous industries, including water and waste water, facilities monitoring, gas pipelines, mining, dairy, food processing, pharmaceutical, and power distribution.

Citect is headquartered in Sydney Australia, has offices in the UK, Australia, USA, Europe, China and Africa, and its products are distributed in more than 40 countries worldwide.

ECM software corrects mechanical errors

Error Compensation Mapping, ECM, compensates for and corrects mechanical errors and is a cost effective solution to this perennial problem.
Error Compensation Mapping corrects mechanical errors A significant proportion of the costs of a precise, high accuracy machine, are found in the high standard and quality of the components that have to be used in the build and the expertise required during the build. If low cost components are used, generally accuracy will be sacrificed unless there is some way to correct the inaccuracies. Error Compensation Mapping, ECM, compensates for and corrects mechanical errors and is a cost effective solution to this perennial problem.

An AMC controller fitted with Error Compensation Mapping can compensate for inaccurate mechanics on a variety of production machines.

This gives OEM's and system builders, cost savings, both in the components used and in labour intensive, lengthy, mechanical setting up procedures.

North East Electronics introduce Error Compensation Mapping software.

ECM software has been created to easily, rapidly and accurately produce a map of errors that exist between the machine motors and tool head.

The map is then used by the North East Electronics AMC range of motion control systems, to compensate for repeatable and predictable axis inaccuracies during the production of components, providing a more precise machine, effectively eliminating part size errors.

During the mapping process the ECM software communicates with the NEE AMC controller, commanding machine movement and gathering information from both the motor encoder and an additional accurate linear encoder or laser measuring system.

This is temporarily fitted to the machine tool head and provides accurate positions to the controller permitting generation of the axis error compensation map.

Once generated, axis ECM data can be viewed in text and graphical format, of error vs.

machine position, for confirmation and analysis.

After ECM data has been generated for each axis it is permanently flashed into the AMC controller where it is used to continually correct machine positions.

The ECM data can be archived, so the mechanical performance can be analysed during the life of the machine.

The Microsoft Windows based ECM software uses a 'Wizard', this guides the operator through the few steps required to set up the machine for the mapping sequence.

It is possible to pre-set the machine accuracy required, the software then repeatedly maps the machine until the pre-set accuracy is achieved.

Additionally the software can check for machine backlash, this can be displayed in a text or a graphical form.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

More engineers adopt PC-based control systems

More and more control system designers are finding that PC-based control systems offer levels of versatility, performance and value for money that simply cannot be matched by traditional systems.
With more and more control system designers finding that PC-based control systems offer levels of versatility, performance and value for money that simply cannot be matched by traditional proprietary PLC solutions, Beckhoff's unique TwinCAT software, which is available in the UK and Ireland exclusively from Hayes Control Systems, is now being used worldwide in more that 10,000 control systems every year. 'While few engineers have ever doubted that PC-based control systems offer outstanding value, some have, in the past, had concerns about stability and reliability,' said Stephen Hayes, of Hayes Control Systems. 'Now, with 10,000 systems a year being installed, many for demanding users such as Volkswagen and Ford Motor Company, it's clear that, with TwinCAT, those concerns can be forgotten.' 'PC-based systems are undoubtedly the future of control,' continued Hayes, 'and these latest figures clearly demonstrate that specifiers are rapidly turning their backs on expensive and inflexible proprietary PLCs.' Beckhoff TwinCAT, from Hayes Control Systems, is specifically designed to offer totally dependable deterministic real-time performance in demanding control applications, and it runs under Microsoft Windows NT, 2000 or XP, on standard or industrialised PC hardware.

A single PC running TwinCAT provides all of the functionality of up to four independent PLCs, and can also operate simultaneously as a multiple axis motion controller.

Programming is carried out using familiar IEC 61131-3 programming languages, eliminating the need for control system designers to learn new software techniques, while extensive diagnostic facilities, including criterion analysis, make program debugging and system commissioning fast and straightforward.

Input/output facilities for control systems based on TwinCAT software are easily provided using the Beckhoff range of modular bus terminals.

These are available in versions to suit all major fieldbus protocols, including Profibus, DeviceNET, Modbus, Ethernet and Lightbus, and to cater for virtually all types of analogue and digital inputs and outputs.

Hayes Control Systems is the leading UK expert in the design and supply of complete automation solutions based on open-architecture PC technology.

The company is the exclusive UK and Ireland distributor for Beckhoff, whose products include fieldbus-independent input/output systems, industrial PCs, and soft programmable controllers which use standard PC hardware, and which can also provide sophisticated motion control functions.

In all of its product areas, Hayes Control Systems champions an open-systems approach, which avoids the technical limitations, high costs and restricted availability associated with proprietary equipment.

Configuration and monitoring made easier

A powerful version of the existing iTools configuration and monitoring package - called iTools Version 5 - can create custom user screens and configuration 'Wizards'.
Eurotherm has introduced a powerful new version of its iTools configuration and monitoring package called iTools Version 5. The new version features a number of major enhancements, including the ability to create custom user screens, configuration 'Wizards' to simplify controller configuration, and a graphical wiring editor to configure Eurotherm's advanced Model 3500 process controllers. iTools has evolved continuously since its introduction in 1999.

This versatile suite of software tools allows configuration and monitoring of all Eurotherm Series 2000 and Series 3000 controllers, the T630 process controller, and also provides runtime monitoring of 5000 Series data acquisition and management units.

It is capable of editing, storing and 'cloning' complete controller configurations, as well as setting up data logging, process monitoring, Ethernet and modem connections, and generating order codes.

iTools employs an OPC (OLE for Process Control) server which uses MODBUS to communicate with the controllers.

The server connects to the controllers via serial communications, Ethernet or a telephone modem, and may also be used by third party 'client' software such as Wonderware and LabVIEW.

Additionally, a DDE link allows parameter values to be displayed 'Live' in an Excel spreadsheet or similar applications, and historical logged data can also be imported into Excel.

Key iTools Software Tools - iTools features a number of powerful tools, including: View Builder allows users to create PC-based user screens for simple process monitoring, commissioning and diagnostics.

The Configurator will edit, store and 'clone' complete controller configurations.

Clone files can be opened as virtual instruments simulating their actual behaviour and allowing complete configurations to be developed off-line, then downloaded to the controller at a later time.

Configuration Wizards hugely simplify the controller configuration process and guide the user through various features offered.

This includes an order code wizard, allowing configuration from an order code.

The Graphical Wiring Editor allows configuration of the advanced E3500 process controller.

The Setpoint Program Editor provides a simple method of setting up setpoint profiles and programmable event outputs.

It will store, retrieve and download program profiles, working 'on-line', when program values are edited 'live' in a connected controller, or 'off-line', when programs are edited before being downloaded to a selected controller.

The number of stored programs is limited only by the capacity of the PC hard disk.

OPC Scope is a utility providing trend plots of process variables.

The time axis can be adjusted between 1 min and 1 month, and also provides a Historical Review mode.

Data may also be logged to hard disk, from which it may be retrieved and analysed in an Excel spreadsheet.

iTools is offered in two editions; The Standard Edition supports all iTools features except third party access to the OPC server, while the OPEN Edition supports all features including third party access to the OPC server.

A special demonstration version of iTools can be downloaded free of charge from Eurotherm's public web site or supplied on a CD for a nominal charge.

While Configurator, Wizards and Graphical Wiring Editor can be run without restriction, all of the other tools, including View Builder, OPC Scope and the standalone Setpoint Program Editor, will run for 30 minutes for evaluation purposes.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Interface module introduces fieldbus networking

Fieldbus interface module provides an interface between FOUNDATION fieldbus devices and any host monitoring control system with Modbus RTU capability.
The new Rosemount Model 3420 Fieldbus Interface Module from Emerson Process Management provides an interface between foundation fieldbus devices and any host monitoring / control system with Modbus RTU capability. This innovative product supports monitoring applications that use any of the FOUNDATION fieldbus instrumentation from Emerson. The Fieldbus Interface Module (FIM) allows users in plants that do not have fieldbus I/O to obtain the benefits of fieldbus networking, such as the diagnostic information available from intelligent instruments, and opens up the enhanced capabilities of FOUNDATION fieldbus instrumentation, including multi-variable and multi-sensor devices.

The FIM delivers immediate efficiencies to such legacy systems, while providing a stepping stone to achieving the full benefits of PlantWeb digital plant architecture.

Each FIM provides conditioned power for up to four FOUNDATION fieldbus H1 segments, with the potential to connect up to 64 fieldbus devices, 16 on each segment.

In temperature applications using the Rosemount Model 848T multi-input temperature transmitter, over 400 temperature points can be monitored using a single FIM and four H1 cable segments round the plant.

Installation savings of 30% or more can be realised compared to conventional wiring of temperature transmitters, while providing a more robust and accurate temperature measurement.

The Model 3420 is powered by 24VDC and provides power to each of the devices on the FOUNDATION fieldbus H1 segments.

Optional power conditioners integral to the IP65 enclosure provide a simple package that can be installed in any indoor or outdoor general purpose area, as an option ATX-CENELEC Type n approval is available, allowing the 3420 to be mounted in a Zone 2 certified area.

Configuration of the fieldbus devices and setup of the Model 3420 is accomplished using an embedded web server and any standard internet browser on a PC.

This Ethernet connection can be made part of a plant intranet network, to allow site engineers to gain remote access to the field measurement data and plant diagnostic information over the fieldbus communications.

DNC interface gives direct machine status reports

Programmable DNC interface allows users to receive automatic notifications via mobile phone, e-mail, or status panel based upon changes in states of DNC-controlled machines.
Virtual Factory now features a programmable DNC interface that allows users to receive automatic notifications via mobile phone, e-mail, or status panel based upon changes in states of DNC-controlled machines. The interface extends the powerful 'monitoring and control' features of Virtual Factory to DNC software applications to allow direct access to machines' operational data. Virtual Factory, the 'monitoring and control' software solution from Orbit Technology Corporation, now features a direct DNC software interface.

Users can access the customizable interface to set up states to which Virtual Factory can respond with its advanced alarm, event triggering, automatic notification, and data logging features.

A large number of features concerning vital project-related DNC information can also be configured and accessed using the new interface.

See below for a description of states and features.

Examples of configurable state values are 'Idle,' 'Working,' 'Alarm,' and 'Resetting.' Machine states tend to change frequently as a machine is used over time.

A state change detected by Virtual Factory via the DNC interface can trigger an event to enable immediate user notification via mobile phone, e-mail, or status panel.

Virtual Factory also automatically logs all data concerning state changes for later analysis.

There are currently over 35 default features available, along with an unlimited number of possible custom features.

Examples of features are project and programmer names, machine start and stop times, maximum and minimum values of X, Y, and Z cutting dimensions, tool names, and part numbers.

The user can view feature values during a machine work process, and the user also can instruct Virtual Factory to log particular feature values for later analysis.

The new Virtual Factory DNC interface can be configured using either Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) or Component Object Model (COM) technologies, both of which are leading data exchange protocols.

These allow Virtual Factory to interface with DNC software written in any of the following languages: Visual Basic, C++, FoxPro, Delphi, and.NET.

About Virtual Factory - Virtual Factory gives its users the power to monitor and control any machine or device in their factory from any place with an Internet connection.

It treats each real-world machine, device, and worker in the facility as a virtual object that can be viewed or controlled using an ergonomic user interface.

Data constantly flows between Virtual Factory and machines/devices/ workers in the factory in real time.

The software can poll the current status of machines, PLCs, RTUs, HVAC systems, RFID tags and workers every few seconds and then keep track of data about their activities in a data log for future reference.

The data can also be used to instantly trigger actions by other devices using the event feature.

Notifications can be sent to managers via telephone, e-mail, or pager about real or potential problem situations.

A recently added status panel, or andon, feature can also be used to notify users.

This feature leverages the best in Just-in-Time (JIT) process technology to alert users of status changes via an attention-getting, colorful visual display on their computer monitors.

Virtual Factory can also automatically carry out video monitoring and recording task.

It can accommodate USB-based video cameras and has built-in video buffering capabilities.

It can interface with any number of external software modules, including scheduling and nesting programs and DNC software.

Virtual Factory can be configured to interface with any digital or analog input/output hardware device.

Sample Applications: * Have Virtual Factory automatically call your mobile phone to alert you that a machine scheduled to run until 3:30 a.m.

actually stopped at 1:14 a.m.

* Monitor the exact location of assets such as equipment and inventory items using radio frequency identification (RFID) scanners and tags.

* Check in on remotely located workers via video link or digital monitoring device to be sure they are following proper safety procedures.

* Run a report based on log data that lists all start/stop times for a particular machine over a two-week period in order to determine optimal usage patterns.

* Automatically track and monitor the status of each stage of a laser cutting process for sheet metal - from nesting to scheduling to cutting - to ensure on-schedule operation.

* Have Virtual Factory send an alert to the mobile phone of security personnel whenever someone is detected entering your facility without the proper RFID-equipped badge, or if an RFID-equipped piece of equipment is detected leaving the grounds.

* Program Virtual Factory to e-mail the shop floor supervisor with an MPEG or AVI video file containing footage of the machine immediately before and after an unscheduled stoppage occurred.

About Orbit Technology Corporation - founded by manufacturing automation experts in 1993, Orbit has made its name supplying factory automation, CAD/CAM and Web-based collaboration software solutions to its international base of clients.

Orbit employs a staff of highly educated, multi-lingual software solution experts who specialize in the manufacturing sector.

The company's innovations continue to give its clients the power to access, manage, and control the data essential to their manufacturing success.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Can manufacturer benefits from SCADA system

A leading manufacturer of aluminium aerosol cans, is successfully using a SCADA system with Web navigator option to monitor critical process equipment and maintain local regulations compliance.
Envases (UK), a leading manufacturer of aluminium aerosol cans, is successfully using its Simatic WinCC SCADA system with Web Navigator option from Siemens Automation and Drives, among many other things, to monitor mission critical process equipment and maintain compliance with local government regulations for atmospheric pollution. Envases is a Spanish, family-owned business that has been making cans for the past fifty years. The UK site at Port Talbot was established 10 years ago where today some one hundred and twenty employees help ensure the company's products satisfy the needs of its prestigious list of blue chip clients, including Unilever, Procter and Gamble, Colgate and Reckitt Benckiser.

Approximately five years ago, Envases began to investigate methods of improving company productivity.

To do so, the firm realised that it must first be capable of measuring its own OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness), an established way of measuring and improving overall business performance.

'We examined the market but at first could not find anything that could do this for us automatically,' stated project engineer, Owen Davies.

'As a result we wrote our own software but it wasn't overly successful, largely because the connectivity to our hardware was unreliable.

It was subsequently pointed out to us that SCADA systems inherently exhibit extremely robust hardware connectivity, so this became our next port of call.' Again Envases 'dipped its toe' into the market, this time investigating available SCADA systems - and eventually creating a shortlist of three.

'We selected WinCC because it offered the best application, both in terms of flexibility and power,' said Davies, explaining the principal reasons behind the company's decision to select Simatic WinCC from Siemens.

WinCC, part of Siemens' 'Totally Integrated Automation' concept, includes a high performance database ideal for collection and analysis of OEE orientated data.

At the same time, when linked with open communications, it makes it easier to present the analysed OEE data and other key performance indicators to the people who need to act on it, in a form in that they can use.

This might be at machine level on HMIs or mobile web pads (at work or home), at management level in the form of trend analysis data, or even on large displays on the plant floor giving a performance overview.

Installed in 2002 at Envases UK, WinCC is being used to measure the company's OEE and to deliver an indication of performance.

Furthermore the system is being deployed to monitor mission critical processes.

One such example involves the disposal of VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) produced by the company's aerosol can printing processes.

Until recently this task was carried out by several incinerators at a cost running into hundreds of thousands of pounds a year.

To combat this cost Envases replaced its incinerators with a recuperative thermal oxidiser (RTO), which uses far less energy.

However, as there is only one RTO, the process is now 'mission critical'.

With this in mind, Envases uses WinCC to monitor its RTO, which is located outside the manufacturing centre.

WinCC not only e-mails alarm messages to relevant personnel in the event of any abnormality, it also bring RTO visualisation inside the Envases plant at Port Talbot, where data can be analysed and trends published using the integrated Microsoft SQL server.

Such has been the success of this strategy that Envases is shortly to do the same for other aspects of the plant, such as energy monitoring equipment, optimising the use of compressed air and scrap monitoring.

'All of these will shortly be integrated with WinCC, helping to drive down the costs of manufacturing,' said Davies.

'The beauty of WinCC is that it has allowed us to take on application development ourselves,' he continued.

'Since 2002 this company has grown and evolved considerably and we have used WinCC to help overcome the new challenges that have arisen along the way.

If we had not selected such a flexible/capable platform we would be continually adding further layers of data acquisition.' Envases also installed the Web Navigator option when it purchased WinCC, which allows the company to visualise and operate its plant via the internet or any available intranet or LAN - without necessitating changes in WinCC.

This means that the Web Navigator offers the same archive display, operator input and access options as the local operator stations.

It also means that: the displayed process pictures can contain Visual Basic scripts for dynamic sequences; it is possible to access WinCC User Archive data records; the system now supports operator messages on the web client; and that the operator stations on the web are integrated into the local user management.

'The potential of WinCC is vast,' concluded Davies.

'And we have yet to take full advantage of what the system can offer.

Although it is hard to make an accurate comparison with the period before WinCC was brought in, as we have had several type changes, it is safe to say that the system has definitely paid for itself, and our productivity is up since it has been installed.

Software gives dynamic real time production status

Software packages that give a dynamic live display of production status provide CNC machine tools users with total control and awareness in 'real time' of what is happening on the shopfloor.
Users of CNC machine tools can now have total control and awareness in 'real time' of what is happening on the shopfloor with the launch at MACH 2004 of two new software packages able to give a dynamic live display of production schedules, assess the effects of delays and changes to the schedule and to monitor and control the use of CNC programs. Seiki Systems of Brighton, now the manufacturing software division of Kenard Engineering Group, has spent the last 18 months developing a portfolio of productivity enhancing packages that are directed at CNC machine users. The software is able to provide visual information in a paperless environment, of what is actually occurring on the shopfloor in real time, enabling corrective action to be quickly applied in the event of problems and all activities are recorded for analysis and management performance reporting.

The Quality Level DNC package, for instance, enables strict control and full traceability of CNC programs with automatic compilation of records covering program access, status, revision, editing and usage.

It warns of requests for unproven programs, is able to control downloading according to the current status of the program and record any changes made by an operator which enables the user to fully comply with the rigid BS, ISO and other high level quality standards.

Able to operate around the clock either in a wired or wireless environment between CNC machine tools, at a price that compares with conventional up and download program transfer systems it will record data such as program usage, the machine involved, batch details and is configurable to the users requirements.

Through Seiki Systems 'real time' Graphical Work Planning software, any company using MRP/ERP scheduling systems can now transform their production schedules into a dynamic real time system giving minute by minute updates of production status and predicted machine loadings.

It also has the capability to predict jobs expected to be on time or late and display the effects on production, of over-running jobs, changes such as revised completion dates or problems such as delays created by breakdown.

By eliminating paper-based recording via work dockets etc, which only tend to delay information getting to the MRP/ERP system, the fully integrated link through Seiki Systems software will provide a live graphical display of what is actually happening and enables immediate management decision to be made.