OPC Aids in Precision Measurement Application

SCHOTT Tubing, a subsidiary of the SCHOTT Group, relies on Softing’s OPC technology as a reliable link between its process control system and a precision measurement instrument.

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Whether flat screens for TV sets or displays for computer monitors, notebooks and mobile phones, hardly any other special glass application has experienced a similarly dynamic development as Cold Cathode Fluorescent Lamps (CCFLs), the background lighting for Liquid Cristal Display Thin-Film Transistors (LCD TFTs).

SCHOTT Tubing, a subsidiary of the SCHOTT Group, is one of the leading manufacturers of glass tubing worldwide with a product range of more than 60 different special glass types and a production capacity of more than 110,000 tons. SCHOTT Tubing offers tailor made products and services for international growth markets such as pharmaceutics, electronics, automotive and environmental technology. The SCHOTT Group employs 16,700 people worldwide and has sales of approximately US$ 3 billion.

The quality standards for producing special glass types that are used to provide backlighting are extremely high. The permissible tolerance for the glass-tube wall thickness is 20 nanometers (20 billionths of a meter). SCHOTT Tubing is using a precision instrument to measure the thickness of the glass-tube wall. The measurements are collected in a Microsoft Excel sheet.

Until quite recently, SCHOTT Tubing did not have an interface between its process control system and the precision instrument’s Excel spreadsheet. A plant operator had to copy every single measurement manually from the Excel sheet to the process control system, a tedious, time-consuming, and error-prone method in need of improvement.

SCHOTT’s control engineers contacted Softing to identify a scalable, reliable and robust method to link the process control system with the precision instrument. SCHOTT Tubing decided on Softing’s industry-hardened OPC technology. In particular, SCHOTT is employing Softing’s OPC Easy Connect Suite and OPC ActiveX control as a reliable link to automatically transmit the measured values from Excel to the process control system.

After only a few mouse clicks, Softing’s OPC ActiveX control is integrated with Excel and enhances Excel with an OPC Client interface. Linking the measurements listed in the Excel sheet to the process control system was quickly achieved by using Softing’s OPC Tunnel and OPC ActiveX controls.

“We are extremely pleased with Softing’s solution,” said Mr. Pollath of SCHOTT Tubing’s melting range division. “Based on our experience with a pilot installation, we decided to implement this solution step-by-step in all of our production facilities.”

Softing's OPC Easy Connect Suite is designed to enhance OPC-based applications. This intelligent set of OPC middleware products simplifies the commissioning and operation of OPC clients and servers, significantly improves the data throughput of OPC interfaces, and ensures reliable OPC communication links. For example, the OPC Tunnel, one of Softing's OPC Easy Connect tools, is the market leading solution to effectively establish a communication link (encrypted, if desired) between an OPC client and server that bypasses the cumbersome DCOM layer completely.

Every install of Softing's high performing OPC Servers includes an OPC test client and an OPC ActiveX Client Control. The OPC ActiveX Client Control enables a user to easily implement simple HMI applications based on the included source code for MS Excel, Visual Basic, Delphi, .NET, HTML pages, and of course MFC applications.

Softing, a member of the European Steering Committee of the OPC Foundation and author of the OPC Book, actively contributes to the success of OPC by providing high quality OPC products, enabling their customers to stay in the forefront of the industrial communications technologies they deploy.

For more information on how Softing can assist you, please visit www.softing.us.

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