Monday, September 6, 2010

IDX introduces OPC to Profibus (Profibus to OPC ) device

So I have been bugged by my colleagues to get this post out into the world. Now as an engineer the last thing on my to-do list (as most engineers) is documentation and I'll be honest, blogging wasn’t even on my list, so this is a big step for me...

I trust and hope that it will answer some of your questions, and even present a possible solution to some of the problems you may have. (Although I also realise the success of this blog is coupled to the frequency of future blogs I may be forced to write...)

Anyway at IDX we excel at solving problems, and we were faced with a problem which begged our attention. Long story short we created a product that exposes your required OPC tags onto your Profibus Network as a Profibus Slave, or vice versa if you like (Profibus to OPC). (Now I would like to end my blogging career right here, but I know if I don’t give more details I will just have to edit this later... so I will continue. )

The Background
We were approached by Sandvik South Africa to solve one of their clients’ connection issues. Sandvik was supplying a ASRi crusher controller to them and they wanted the data from the ASRi available on their Fieldbus network. The data was already exposed as an OPC server, but that was not the solution the client wanted. They argued that they had already spent money on creating a Profibus infrastructure, and they therefore wanted to use what they already had. So the age old mantra of “The customer is always right” prevailed and Sandvik had no choice but to provide what the client wanted. Sandvik then followed the yellow brick road, and found their way to IDX, and the developing fun began...

The Solution
One of our strategies at IDX is to make long term, maintainable solutions that are not locked into any one specific vendor. We also leveraged the power of our software which has been running in industries all over the world since 1995, so what we ended up with is a highly configurable, highly maintainable solution which guarantees a long life time to its users. With an initial setup to configure the relationship between the OPC tags and the Profibus memory mapping, we now have a fairly simple way of exposing any OPC data onto a Profibus network.

We were also able to expose the Profibus acyclic data as well as the cyclic data on the device so you are able to put pretty much all the data you would ever need onto the profibus network.

But wait...

The Exciting Part
Because we used off-the-shelf products and used the HMS Anybus PCI card to provide the Profibus interface, with a few minor changes we can include any of the HMS interface cards and use the same idea of OPC to Anybus... This means if you want OPC on DeviceNet, Modbus, ControlNet, CanBus, pretty much anything you have, we can now bridge the gap. (I suppose this is why they wanted me to write this message... )

And then it was done...
I am really excited about this new product we are offering and I really had fun playing with all the technologies. If you have any questions or any comments or ideas you would like to chat about please feel free to contact me. I spent a lot of time digging through the different protocols so if there is something you need or would like to know, give me an email. I would love to know what you are doing and would love to help! (...I like problem solving a whole lot more than blogging!)

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