EVSystems Data Solutions is a system integrator, specializing in applications that allow its customers to connect SCADA and automation systems to their operation, business and information systems. Services include: Data Historian implementation and integration; supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) design and optimization; system architecture evaluations and consulting; multi-platform integration; and custom software and relational database design and development.
EVSystems was recently contracted by GE Sensing to develop an I/O driver for a cryogenic tank monitoring application. The customer was installing 50 Cryogenic tanks; each would be monitored and controlled with TEC 2000/3000 controllers by MVE Bio-Medical, Chart Industries, Inc. The controllers support a robust ASCII protocol over RS-485. EVSystems would need to develop a driver that could support this ASCII protocol but easily integrate with the GE Labwatch system that would be monitoring the tanks. The application had several challenges:
- There was limited development time and budget, so the solution would need to be developed quickly.
- It would need to compatible with the GE Proficy HMI SCADA/iFIX application.
- It needed to be easily scalable since the customer had plans to triple the number of tanks to over 150 tanks and controllers over the next few years.
- It needed to be extremely robust and reliable so the solution could be easily validated for a FDA 21 CFR 11 application.
After briefly considering development of a serial driver “from scratch,” EVSystems realized that the time and cost would be exorbitant. The integrator learned of the User-Configurable (U-CON) driver from Kepware Technologies, based in Portland, Maine, which is housed in Kepware’s field-proven OPC server, KEPServerEX. After a short evaluation, EVSystems realized that U-CON would fulfill the application requirements.
- U-CON’s easy development and test environment enabled EVSystems to create a working driver that could read and write data within the first hour, vs. the several weeks typically associated with developing a new I/O driver.
- Kepware OPC servers support all OPC DA specifications, including several Native Interfaces such as the “NIO” interface of the GE Proficy iFIX SCADA system. Multiple application connectivity options would maximize compatibility options.
- A complete U-CON license has no device or tag limits so it would be easy to expand connectivity as the customer adds more tank controllers to the system.
- The U-CON driver has several advanced capabilities that are not available even in dedicated I/O drivers. One such capability includes conditional “If-Then-Else” logic when reading serial data, and the ability to disable the polling of a specific device if the device stops responding.
EVSystems developed a driver that is scalable, robust and surprisingly intelligent for a fraction of the anticipated costs. The ease of developing an OPC driver for a serial device has led EVSystems Data Solutions to specify the U-CON driver for another pharmaceutical application reading an air particulate monitor. “There are numerous project risks associated with the pharmaceutical application that we are developing,” stated Stephen Friedenthal, EVSystems Data Solutions’ president, “but developing a driver for the air particulate monitors isn’t one of them. With the U-CON driver I can concentrate on other tasks with full confidence that we will be able to integrate the air particulate monitors with the SCADA system in a couple of hours.”
For more information about OPC solutions from Kepware Technologies, visit www.kepware.com.
For more information about EVSystems Data Solutions, LLC, visit http://www.evsystems.net.