Industrial Data Xchange (IDX) is a South African based ICT industrial company with a global focus specialising in the provision of data communication solutions. On this blog, IDX experts comment on industrial communication protocols, trends, and tips as well as what is on the go in the labs at IDX.
In November and December 2015 we were hard at work with a
major update of the IDX StarNET Gateway. Firstly, we moved the entire gateway logic
into our IDX 8 Data Exchange framework, which has a couple of benefits. The
gateway is now part of the growing IDX 8-based software gateway family that is
operationally proven yet has powerful configuration capabilities that the old
text-file based configuration approach just won't match. IDX 8 also contains a number
of existing connectors that we felt would be beneficial to have in the StarNET
world, such as MODBUS RTU/TCP.
We also added two new StarNET interface types to address the
increasing number of requests for ESP communications. So the gateway can now
also act as both an ESP Tributary and Controller in the standard J/K table
exchange mode at all the standard ESP baud rates via one (or more) of the
built-in RS-232/422/485 serial ports.
A combination HDLC/ESP interface was commissioned and tested
at US Steel’s East Chicago Tin mill in December and is now running live as a
replacement for an old COMsoft SNL-based solution.
Finally, we moved the StarNET gateway to a new hardware
platform that allows for greater flexibility on the expansion side of things,
meaning practically any fieldbus with an available PCIe/PCI interface can now
be accommodated inside the gateway. We continue to add interfaces by popular
demand or when customers explicitly require a particular type of connection.
Looking forward, we hope to add a StarNET HDLC Master
implementation in the not-too-distant future as we currently already have a stand-alone
implementation we use for all our testing purposes.
Last week IDX were called to site at a large commercial residence building in Pretoria, South Africa. Where our client was implementing an IoT solution for remote monitoring and control of various HVAC and power systems in the building. The control system the SI chose in this case was a Modbus enabled Industrial Micro PC called the Revolution PI. The client had Modbus sensors connected to boilers, air conditioning systems, ventilation systems and power meters. The Modbus communications between the controller and the sensors were intermittently failing due to various installation and implementation faults: 1. Earthing and Shielding Within any fieldbus communication installation, one of the requirements to ensure uninterrupted operation is to implement adequate grounding and shielding techniques. Effective grounding and Shielding help to prevent electrostatic and electromagnetic pickup, which can lead to failed communications. Some of the shielding and grounding req
Tag management of real-time data systems can prove challenging. As an industrial IT company we frequently come across the problem where tags need to be migrated from one system to another or where tags need to be synchronised and maintained between systems including historians. Generally, this ends up being a manual process, often involving Excel and much diligence and patience of the maintainer’s behalf. IDX Unifig was the first incarnation of a tool we designed with the aim to simplify the migration and management of tags between systems. The tool worked, but with as with most first editions of software tools, we could see the need for improvement and refinement of the approach used. Thus Tag Manager was born, and has become the key stone in the IDX 8 software suite. All other IDX 8 modules, such as Data Exchange, Alarms and Events and the Historian use Tag Manager to store and reference tags. The comparison result we like to see - no changes. Tag Manager employs a plug
Quick guide to get access to the P+F advanced diagnostic module via RS485 and COM converter. In order to do this, you need an RS485 converter which can convert RS485 to either ethernet or USB. I used a device from HMS (Anybus) called the Serial Server ( AB7701 ). This device connects to RS232, 422 or 485 and makes the data available over ethernet to your computer using a virtual com port. Connect the converter to the Diagnostic bus connection on the Pepperl & Fuchs fieldbus power hub 1. Once you have the com port available on your PC, Check the comport number via “manage my computer” Make sure that the FieldConnexd Diagnostic server (FDS) is running. Go to “Windows button”>“All programs” > “Pepperl+Fuchs” and start FDS control center In case the FDS is not running click onto “Start FDS” (in case it is running nothing is left to do here) click onto “Hide”. To avoid that this piece of software will be forgotten in future click onto settings and choose un