OPC DataHub Facilitates Trouble-Shooting

A U.S. textiles manufacturer uses OPC DataHub from Cogent Real-Time Systems for the OPC-to-ODBC connection needed to store process data in a SQL Server database in order to automate data collection.

Aw 4190 Cogent
A large textiles company in the southern United States has a specialized product line that puts unique demands on its process control hardware and software. Recently, the company decided to automate its data collection process to monitor and improve overall efficiency.

The control system is based on a Delta Tau Computer Numeric Control (CNC) controller connected to a camera that monitors the machinery. The controller is also connected to an Exor human-machine interface (HMI) for operator control. This provides adequate control of the process, but the company wanted a better way to monitor the efficiency of the system and identify potential problems.  

Management wanted to gather data each time a machine stopped running—to determine how and why it stopped. At the moment a machine would go offline, the company wanted to record in a database the time, the type of product, and the operator on shift at the time, as well as a few other operating parameters. Previously, this information was collected by hand, which was an imprecise, tedious and time-consuming task.

Connecting OPC to SQL Server

The first breakthrough came when the engineering staff discovered that the Exor HMI comes with an OPC server application. This provided a way to access data from the production equipment in a Microsoft Windows environment. Next, a search on the Internet turned up the OPC DataHub software, from Cogent Real-Time Systems, based in Georgetown, Ontario, Canada, which offers the OPC-to-ODBC (Open Database Communication) connection needed to store the process data in a Structured Query Language (SQL) Server database.

“When we realized that Exor had an OPC server, I thought, that’s a long way towards our goal,” said the project manager. “Then when I found the OPC DataHub on the web, I knew I had the solution in hand.”

Using the DataHub’s Data Logging interface, the company was able to start logging data to SQL Server in a couple of hours. Now each time a machine stops, the OPC DataHub logs the time, product type, operator and other useful information to the SQL Server database. By making changes in the Data Logging interface, the team can experiment with writing data from different OPC tags, using different trigger mechanisms and conditions. And the team can use standard SQL clients to query the data.  

“With the OPC data going into SQL Server, we can collate and analyze the data to see what is happening and why,” said the project manager.  “I can gauge the performance of the machines and the people. I’m very pleased with the OPC DataHub. It’s quick, precise, and easy to use.”

For more information on OPC solutions from Cogent Real-Time Systems, visit www.opcdatahub.com.

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