Thursday, August 2, 2012

IDX 8 – Solutions for industrial data problems


Our company, Industrial Data Xchange, shares its name with our software suite, IDX. IDX first came into being in 1995 as an industrial data communications suite at a time when there were few options when interconnecting real-time data systems between vendors. The original IDX concept is fairly straightforward – it provides a pool of tags (or Slots) to which various modules, akin to plugins, can commonly read and write real-time data using Actions. The trick is that the modules implement the custom code to interface with a specified system but also know how to share data into the IDX tag pool. Therefore, as long as one has the modules developed for the system one wants to share data between, IDX becomes a common real-time data hub. Over time, many PLC, DCS and protocol-specific modules were developed, but for us, the most frequently used are OPC DA, IDX TCP (our proprietary TCP protocol), @aGlance, Gensym G2 and MODBUS, in the various flavours.

Today, IDX 7 is largely still based on the original IDX concept, and has proved reliable while extensible over the years and is still in use as our primary data exchange product. However, early 2011 we released IDX 8 which, while carrying the same name as its predecessor, now has a much wider functionality footprint. Whereas IDX 7 addresses real-time data exchange only, IDX 8 introduces a common platform for all our industrial communications solutions. The goal is to tightly integrate our various products in a common, user friendly platform that can scale from simple, single machine installations to enterprise-wide deployments which can be managed from a single point. 

Currently, IDX 8 provides Tag Management, Data Exchange, Alarms and Events and Historian functionality. These function modules are separately licensed items that provide specific, yet often overlapping functionality:

·         Tag Management  - synchronise tag configuration between systems

·         Real-time Data Exchange – share real-time data between systems

·         Alarms and Events (Emails/SMS) – generate human-readable events

·         Historian – store real-time data history

In the next few blog posts, will be providing a general overview of the various modules in IDX 8, interesting features and new developments.

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