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Software is the key to digitization and smart production
 Increasing demands are placed on suppliers of custom solutions for industrial production. Automation systems can no longer be isolated devices, but must be linked to the entire intelligent manufacturing information system. Thus, application authors need to be familiar with many software technologies and application interfaces. The Control Web program environment can be a good help to meet all current and future requirements.

To explain the wide range of system functionality, let us recall its concept and architecture of the software environment.

At the beginning of the development, there was a desire to use a better system for creating custom application programs than the so-called SCADA programs were and still remain. These programs are considerably limited by their principles of operation, where a fixed database loop is often cyclically serviced by a database of tags (internal variables) and based on configuration data rendered an operator graphical interface. The expression capabilities and efficiency of such architectures cannot be high. SCADA programs can serve well in the situations for which they were designed. But we want more, today's IT world is rich and we need a freely programmable system for our custom solutions. However, it is too laborious to program every application from scratch, even if we take full advantage of object-oriented programming languages.

If we take a closer look at the principles of most of today's modern conceived program systems, we find that it is usually a structure of program components that work together and communicate with each other through defined program interfaces. The basic idea behind the creation of the Control Web system is to create a set of program components and then simply compose application programs from instances of these components. The great strength of this concept in Control Web is that the basic type of component we call a virtual machine has no limitations in functionality and features, or in quantity. The system does not know what all virtual instruments do - in applications we use simple virtual instruments such as a button or measuring instrument, as well as complex components such as a web server, SQL database, stereoscopic camera or neural network. The Control Web system only needs to be able to detect virtual appliance components in external dynamic link libraries that are not limited in their names or quantities again, and then manufacture component instances and supply them for application program construction purposes. Component instances exist in structures through which events and data flow to which components respond. The structure of the application program in the computer memory is thus practically identical to the structure of a program that would be created in C ++. Also, this program is comparatively powerful and efficient. It is often more powerful as reusable components are carefully tuned and optimized.

Structure of application components in Control Web environment

Structure of application components in Control Web environment

In addition to identifying and instantiating usable components, the Control Web core handles event distribution, including real time, maintains global data element and channel data, and secures communication in a networked environment.

The application program then consists of a structure of components, which can be:

  • virtual instruments - their functionality is virtually unlimited, they can do anything, and there are many such instruments in applications

  • graphics renderers - for virtual machines, they provide general abstract access to graphical features regardless of the specific graphics API of the operating system

  • input / output device drivers - provide communication with the outside world in the form of input and output units, PLCs or software standards such as OPC UA etc.

  • machine vision steps - machine vision algorithms above the image provided by camera virtual instruments

Při tvorbě aplikačního programu nejsme spoutání žádným předem naprogramovaným systémem, vytváříme zcela unikátní vlastní strukturu se svými algoritmy. To nám skýtá značné, prakticky neomezené možnosti. Určité riziko spočívá pouze v tom, že náš program nebude dělat to co chceme, ale pouze to, co jsme naprogramovali :-). Vždy ale vznikne paměťově bezpečný a stabilní aplikační program. Můžeme velice jednoduše tvořit programy v širokém rozsahu informačních a automatizačních technologií. Nemusí to rozhodně být jen tradiční sběr dat a operátorská rozhraní, ale mohou to být např. webové aplikace včetně redakčního rozhraní, databázové aplikace se vstupními formuláři a výstupními sestavami, aplikace přímého řízení strojů a výrobních linek v reálném čase, aplikace kamerového dohledu, vizuální inspekce a komplexní systémy strojového vidění a mnoho dalšího. Fantazie tvůrců aplikací není nijak omezována. Přitom většinu vývoje lze udělat pouze pomocí myši v grafickém vývojovém prostředí. Především však můžeme vytvářet spoustu velmi rozdílných aplikací v jednom vývojovém prostředí. Ušetříme spoustu práce a času - nemusíme se učit několik programovacích standardů a nemusíme ovládat několik programů a konfiguračních nástrojů.

Applications are built according to the principles now promoted as Industry 4.0

It is quite interesting that many of the concepts for building smart production systems, today as popular as Industry 4.0, have been part of the Control Web architecture for a long time.

Here are some examples:

  • cloud and Internet of services - more than twenty years ago, as the Control Web name suggests, both the Web client and the server were part of the system, allowing access to dynamic application data through Web services. The system was designed from the outset for applications dispersed in TCP / IP networks. It enables unified access to local data and data anywhere in the computer network.

    DataLab industrial I/O unit with Ethernet connection to TPCP/IP network

    DataLab industrial I/O unit with Ethernet connection to TPCP/IP network

  • Industrial Internet of Things - the concept of a computer is much wider than it was in the past, as it is part of many common devices. Your computer may have a credit card size and run Control Web. Such a device is then easily integrated into the Internet of Things. Also, industrial DataLab I/O units can be connected to a TCP/IP network and can be located anywhere. E.g. the entire industrial automation switchboard of a machine or production line can be integrated into the system via a single Ethernet connection.

    Obr 3: Automatizační rozvaděč lze díky jednotkám DataLab připojit do počítačové sítě

    Obr 3: Automatizační rozvaděč lze díky jednotkám DataLab připojit do počítačové sítě

  • virtual reality and digital models - Although the 3D rendering system was not available immediately from the first version of the system, in 2002 it was probably the first before other industrial automation systems. Now in the latest version of the system, the idea of hybrid virtual instruments has been fully completed and implemented, which can exist both in the three-dimensional space of the scene, as well as in conventional panels with arbitrary graphics renderers. All spatial visualizations can also be visualized through stereoscopic virtual reality glasses.

    Scene preparation in 3D editor - spatial models of real devices, machines and buildings are clearer and clearer in some applications than area diagrams

    Scene preparation in 3D editor - spatial models of real devices, machines and buildings are clearer and clearer in some applications than area diagrams

  • cybernetic — physical systems - a device in which Control Web is running is no longer a simple programmable controller. In addition to controlling the machine, it can provide the machine with a perception of the outside world through machine vision, connect with other information systems, databases, communicate on the Internet and make decisions using artificial intelligence.

    In a smart factory, each machine is part of a computer network

    In a smart factory, each machine is part of a computer network

Thanks to its network and communication, database and visualization capabilities, Control Web maximally supports the progressive way of controlling industrial production and management of production equipment and machines as well as control and automation systems solutions.

Effective solution of control and automation systems

If we have a control unit with the Control Web system in the automation system, we can design the entire system as efficiently as possible. For many systems, we will need nothing but a control computer and some industrial inputs and outputs. Everything can run in a single programming environment, so we save money not only on PLC, but above all, we will greatly simplify and speed up programming. In all cases, of course, you cannot do without a PLC, but in many cases it is. When upgrading older industrial automation systems, we often replace several PLCs with a new control computer with new software, and at a lower cost we get higher performance and an incomparably higher range of functionality.

Efficient automation of the production line with Control Web - a computer with a graphical interface for the operator and DataLab unit for machine control connected via Ethernet

Efficient automation of the production line with Control Web - a computer with a graphical interface for the operator and DataLab unit for machine control connected via Ethernet

Especially significant efficiency gains are obtained in cases where visual inspection cameras are also used. Combining machine vision and visual inspection with all the features of the Control Web programming environment is a high value for a smart statement.

Open standards bring the freedom and easier maintenance and further development

The architecture of the Control Web system is based on the use of open standards of information technology. Reduces the risk of being hostage providers who often use your own, closed, and possibly world-protected communication systems, data and program standards that are available for long-term customer attachment to their customers. Users will then become safe hostages of these suppliers. The efforts of large, unnamed, well-known concerns to lock suppliers are no less intense than in the past. Only before have all been made available openly and straightforwardly, while more hidden and sophisticated methods can be chosen today - and when it is possible to declare what advocates of open standards you can now be modern and look good to say.

Developing, repairing and maintaining applications is completely free

So we still need to invest some of our own work to create an application program, but the development environment, including all add-ons and extensions, is available for free. We can also download and use any driver as well as VisionLab vision system. We will only need a license when we deliver it to the end customer and deploy our application into continuous operation.

Without the need to invest in any equipment, we can try what we can create with the help of Control Web.

Roman Cagaš

 
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