Program less, transfer more data with this appliance

Improve security and increase data flow among devices with easy setup.


Knoxville, TN – The new

Appliance Transaction Module (ATM) platform


Online Development Inc

. focuses on eliminating costly, and complex custom programming between dissimilar plant-floor products and business systems, eliminating software updates and data security concerns.

The platform consists of hardware modules with embedded transaction software for exchange of data between specific dissimilar products such as a factory floor controller and a database. Each features an easy-to-use interface with automatic identification of connected products, such as controller tags and database tables. Intuitive screens and drag-and-drop operation contribute to simple setup and configuration of data transactions.

ATMs provide a low-cost, low-risk alternative to traditional custom programmed PC-based software and hardware bridges used to exchange data between dissimilar plant floor devices and/or business systems such as a database. The bridges traditionally use proprietary software that requires programming expertise, lengthy development, and testing to exchange the data. PC-based bridges are susceptible to software viruses, hackers, unintended operation, and ongoing maintenance.

Data exchanges support corporate-wide initiatives , such as ERP (enterprise resource planning), CRM (customer relationship management), data warehousing, and supply chain management. They also support in-plant applications, such as downloading of batch recipes, process line configuration, transfer of SPC (statistical process control) information, dynamic warehousing, assembly order, and bill of material processing.

Online Development has several additions to the Appliance Transaction Module platform under development that will include data exchange capabilities for more types and brands of factory automation and business system products. According to Ron Monday, president and CEO, "Our experience with the xCoupler eATM module over the past 18 months has shown that these modules take a lot of pain out of exchanging data between controllers and business systems for end-users. They do just one thing and do it well, exchange and manage data between dissimilar platforms. That's why we are aggressively expanding this platform to provide users the building blocks needed to easily connect and manage various sources of data."

ARC Advisory Group

research director Craig Resnick says, "For applications such as sending and confirming build orders from a database to a factory floor controller, many manufacturers are turning to automation appliances. Similar to computer data appliances such as routers, modems and Ethernet switches that have gained wide acceptance throughout the information technology industry, automation appliances are characterized by being simple to install and configure, which speeds up startup times, and offering longer product lifecycles, which minimizes the number of required maintenance upgrades."

First of these modules , the xCoupler eATM module for exchanging Allen-Bradley ControlLogix PAC (Programmable Automation Controller) data with business systems, was introduced in 2005. It has become popular as an easy way to exchange plant data with MySQL, IBM, Oracle, and Microsoft business systems. Manufacturers around the globe such as Nestle, 3M, Honda, John Deere, Caterpillar, Kraft Foods, Saint-Gobain, Nucor, and Whirlpool benefit from this module's ease-of-use and reliable operation. It has won awards and recognition from publications including Control Engineering, Plant Engineering, Automation World, and Industry Week.

Latest module, RA56-cATM, introduced in September 2007, exchanges data between the latest Allen-Bradley ControlLogix PACs and installed Allen-Bradley PLCs, including SLC 500, PLC-5, MicroLogix and CompactLogix. It economically maximizes the investment in installed PLCs while migrating to the latest PAC technology by eliminating programming message instructions between two control platforms.

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