Open communications server gives instant access to automation controllers

Open communications server gives instant access to automation controllers

Published On: 25 June 2013
Open communications server gives instant access to automation controllers

Motion control company Inmoco of Daventry has released CTCopc 2, a 32-bit Windows OPC server application that provides real-time client access to automation controllers.

CTCopc 2 was developed by Control Technology Corporation in Massachusetts as a way to help manufacturers easily build or reconfigure automated production systems. This allows them to move quickly to seize new markets and adopt efficient, cost-saving technologies in their production facilities.

OPC (Open Platform Communications) is a standard for industrial communications that enables universal connectivity and interoperability. It is based on Client/Server architecture and allows field devices from different manufacturers to freely communicate with one another. Originally developed for process control, it has been steadily extended into more and more fields of control technology, and lets users mix equipment from different vendors within a system.

CTCopc 2 can be installed on any modern Windows-based operating system and uses the latest Microsoft technology — namely Microsoft.NET. It conforms to all three versions of OPC-DA (1.0, 2.0 and 3.0), the specification that defines how data-oriented, server applications interact with client application software.

CTCopc 2 is a high-performance application and can manage up to 500 controllers within a single system. Furthermore, each controller can function with an unlimited number of tags (data inputs), although in practical terms controllers that require more than say 5000 tags will be rare. This gives a real world limit of about 250,000 tags per application.

Once CTCopc 2 is installed, it is easy to create a control system. A single mouse click opens an empty two-pane window and tool bar. The left pane is the tag-tree and visually represents the hierarchical structure of the sytem, i.e. the controllers and associated tags. The right pane is called the property editor and allows the user to set performance parameters for each controller. Thus a complete application can be built up step-by-step in a very simple user-friendly environment, while existing applications can also be easily reset.

To speed up the programming process, CTCopc 2 has several higher-level functions, such as the ability to group similar controllers together and set their parameters en-masse, or to set a series of controllers to follow another in a cascade sequence. As such CTCopc 2 can make programming and reprogramming complex automation systems far simpler and more straightforward than has been possible to date.

This is expected to help manufacturers adopt new technologies and production methods to meet evolving market expectations and maintain a competitive edge. It will also free them from the constraints of using only a single vendor for all control equipment, allowing selection of best-in-class devices and redeployment of equipment without fear of incompatibility.


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