OPC simplifies integration of process vision, quality control systems

Swiss automation engineers use OPC DataHub to enhance Kimberly-Clark production facility.

03/04/2010


Logicpark, a Swiss engineering and system integration company, recently used the OPC DataHub from Cogent Real-Time Systems to network an ABB quality control system to a new Viconsys process vision system at the Kimberly-Clark production facility in Niederbipp, Switzerland. "The requirements for this project were challenging," said Bruno Maurer, head of solutions at Logicpark. "The OPC interface gave us a good foundation, and we used the OPC DataHub to get the most out of it."

OPC is a software interface standard for allowing Microsoft Windows programs to communicate with industrial hardware devices. Any kind of hardware with an OPC server can communicate easily with any software that is an OPC client. In this case, however, there was no hardware/software connection. Two pieces of hardware had to connect directly, and interact on a common data set. "We had to connect the ABB and Viconsys OPC servers," said Maurer. "What we needed was an 'OPC bridge' that could act as a client to each OPC server, and pass the data between them."

A second difficulty was in networking. OPC uses DCOM for networking, which was not built for industrial applications. Most factory systems are protected by firewalls, and using DCOM with firewalls poses both configuration challenges and security risks. "The data had to go across the network," said Maurer. "Using DCOM for networking was out of the question, because it would open too many ports in the firewalls, and it is difficult to configure. What we needed was a way to tunnel the data across the network, and also bridge the OPC servers at either end of the tunnel."

To achieve these goals, Maurer turned to the OPC DataHub, which offers both OPC tunneling and bridging in a single, integrated product. He installed one OPC DataHub on the same machine as the ABB quality control system, and connected it to that OPC server. He then installed a second OPC DataHub on the Viconsys computer, and connected it to the Viconsys OPC server.

When Maurer configured the OPC tunnel, he was able to see both sets of data on both OPC DataHubs. From there, it was a straightforward task to configure the necessary bridges to write data from one OPC server to the other OPC server. Maurer had a test connection running in a few hours, and couple of days later the new system was completely functional.

"The OPC standard is very good, but we were faced with a special challenge on this project," said Maurer, "how to connect two OPC servers together to share data across a firewall. The OPC DataHub gave us a complete and reliable way to network real-time data."

Cogent Real-Time Systems, founded in 1995, provides real-time cross-platform data integration between Windows, Linux and QNX. Customers include the Bank of Canada, Cadbury Chocolate and the European Space Agency.

- Edited by Renee Robbins, senior editor
Control Engineering News Desk

Get more manufacturing IT news from Control Engineering , including information technology solutions for enterprise planning and management of supply chain strategies and manufacturing operations.

More Industrial Networks news from Control Engineering



No comments
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by...
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
Learn how to increase device reliability in harsh environments and decrease unplanned system downtime.
This eGuide contains a series of articles and videos that considers theoretical and practical; immediate needs and a look into the future.
Learn how to create value with re-use; gain productivity with lean automation and connectivity, and optimize panel design and construction.
Go deep: Automation tackles offshore oil challenges; Ethernet advice; Wireless robotics; Product exclusives; Digital edition exclusives
Lost in the gray scale? How to get effective HMIs; Best practices: Integrate old and new wireless systems; Smart software, networks; Service provider certifications
Fixing PID: Part 2: Tweaking controller strategy; Machine safety networks; Salary survey and career advice; Smart I/O architecture; Product exclusives
The Ask Control Engineering blog covers all aspects of automation, including motors, drives, sensors, motion control, machine control, and embedded systems.
Look at the basics of industrial wireless technologies, wireless concepts, wireless standards, and wireless best practices with Daniel E. Capano of Diversified Technical Services Inc.
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
This is a blog from the trenches – written by engineers who are implementing and upgrading control systems every day across every industry.
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.

Find and connect with the most suitable service provider for your unique application. Start searching the Global System Integrator Database Now!

Case Study Database

Case Study Database

Get more exposure for your case study by uploading it to the Control Engineering case study database, where end-users can identify relevant solutions and explore what the experts are doing to effectively implement a variety of technology and productivity related projects.

These case studies provide examples of how knowledgeable solution providers have used technology, processes and people to create effective and successful implementations in real-world situations. Case studies can be completed by filling out a simple online form where you can outline the project title, abstract, and full story in 1500 words or less; upload photos, videos and a logo.

Click here to visit the Case Study Database and upload your case study.