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Data capture solution

23 March, 2018

Welland Medical, a British manufacturing company established in 1988, specialising in the design, development and manufacture of stoma care appliances and accessories, recently moved into its new premises, and had upgrades to its network architecture and server. Subsequently after the move, the company’s existing data capture system no longer functioned and the quote they had obtained for a replacement/upgrade was prohibitively expensive. Smart Machines & Factories takes a closer look.

Welland Medical needed a data capture system for its factory production machines to monitor and record production KPIs (key performance indicators) and synchronise this to a database that could be queried to produce live data and historical operational and management reporting.

The company’s installed factory production machines have a variety of brands of PLCs at its heart, all of which reside on its automation ethernet network along with various HMI and other devices. The company says it can be a challenge to gather meaningful production data from multiple brand devices.

Solution

The solution, which the company turned to, was to install a cMT-SVR-100 - a cloud-based HMI. The cost of the equipment was a one-off hardware cost of just £144, plus installation and configuration by Lamonde, but no on-going costs as there was no licence required.

The specific unit recommended was Weintek’s cMT-SVR-100, which does not come with a screen. It provides all the interface and data-logging capability you would reasonably expect of an HMI, but without taking up precious panel real-estate or providing an unnecessary additional touch screen.

While primarily the cMT is acting as a data-concentrator/communication gateway, the HMI application has been developed to make it a useful shop-floor diagnostic tool accessible by Android/IOS devices using Wi-Fi, as well as via a PC running the Weintek cMT Viewer app.

Using bit-triggered data sampling, each PLC presents a snapshot of the production data: product code, an ASCII string, and four 32bit registers providing current, real-time parts per hour, batch count and a downtime reason code, and a spare register for future use.

Captured data is written to an SD card installed in the cMT-SVR-100 in real-time on a rolling 31-day FiFo (first in first out) cycle and periodically synchronised to a MySQL Database residing on the Welland Medical server.

Resilience is provided by the 31 days of storage on the SD card so, should there be a temporary issue with the server, the data will be available to re-sync once the server issue is resolved.

Further integrity is provided by the front-end, developed by a third party. By synchronising the captured database with a second database, a further layer of data integrity is provided so any erroneous writes or table-dropping affects only a mirror of the real machine data.

All the data is displayed on monitors at the end of the production line and in the staff canteen, provide highly visible business-rich information, far more than Welland Medical used to have on its previous system.

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Other potential applications for this solution

Any automated process, including a production line or conveyor belt

Packaging and baling machines

Water treatment

Oil refinery

Wind/water turbine generation

Brewing

Food production

Pharmaceuticals

Automotive manufacturing

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