Engineering WinCC OA systems from external sources

At Cleverdist we see how industrial systems are exposed to today’s rapid technological changes. For this reason we recognize the importance of remaining, as much as possible, independent from specific technologies.  Our experience here at Cleverdist is of generating entire WinCC OA control systems engineered using external tools. We are at ease interfacing WinCC OA with different types of databases as well as parsing any kind of file format or communicating with external systems or hardware. Using our WinCC OA control scripts and libraries we automatically generate, from scratch, complete ready-to-operate distributed control systems, including hardware connectivity, alarm handling, archiving, smoothing, etc. These systems can also be modified or extended by changing the engineering description data sources.

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Setting up development and production WinCC OA environments

At Cleverdist we know how important it is to keep a clear separation between production and development environments. At the same time, WinCC OA architecture and its hot-configuration features provide great flexibility when updating production systems. By looking at our customer assets and practices we assist them in the design of an infrastructure that allows for changing, improving and fixing their production system safely and without disturbing operation.

We have experience in designing modular versionable WinCC OA components representing self-contained WinCC OA subsystem that can be installed, updated and roll-backed. We also include, if appropriate, our customers’ software repositories (SVN, CVS…), file servers and databases in the infrastructures we design. It is possible to use different user interface solutions (based on WinCC OA panels, Web interfaces, etc.) when managing the version of the different components in a distributed system.

So, whether our clients have a business in operation 24/7 or they are engineering brand new systems, they profit from our experience in defining deployment strategies and setting up an IT infrastructures to support them.

From the smallest to the largest

During our professional experience we have dealt with WinCC OA systems of all sizes; from the smallest standalone system running in micro PCs to the largest WinCC OA systems distributed in the range of a hundred WinCC OA nodes. It is especially important for largest systems to monitor and control not only the business processes but also the WinCC OA infrastructure, like the servers’ health, file integrity and consistency across systems, overloaded and blocked managers, etc.

At Cleverdist we extend WinCC OA’s system overview functionality and integrate the monitoring of the infrastructure with the overall system in such a way that experts can be notified before any infrastructure problem affects the business operation. Our experience with WinCC OA spans across all the operating systems supported.

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High availability

At Cleverdist we have extensive experience in WinCC OA redundancy. With our deep comprehension of how redundancy works, our customers’ systems reach the required availability. Beyond WinCC OA drivers and other core managers we can also help you to develop or modify your own control scripts or API custom managers to be redundant compliant.

Additionally, we also are experienced in configuring WinCC OA in virtual environments, especially using WinCC OA in VMware vSphere cluster solutions. When required to fulfill the highest availability requirements we configure WinCC OA redundancy in combination with vSphere in HA (High Availability) mode.

Safety and SIL3

While ETM’s effort in certifying WinCC OA runtime will save considerable time when engineering a control system for its use in a safety related environment, it is only part of the process. Not only is there a need for significant work involving the proper configuration of WinCC OA (its underlying Operating System, network and other computing infrastructure that need to be validated separately), but also with regard to the entire life-cycle of the SIL qualified system (from the specification and design phase until its final validation). For this purpose, at Cleverdist we work closely with our partner DAES who has extensive experience in safety analysis for control systems (IEC 61226, IEC 61508, IEC 61513…) and has even carried out risk and safety analysis for nuclear facilities (IAEA standards, DOE standards, French Nuclear standards, ASME, RCC series, ICRP… ) using a large range of recognized methods, such FTA or FMEA (with IEC 60812). Find out more here.

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Customer specific solutions

At Cleverdist we do not bring our customers’ business our own closed WinCC OA solutions, but we rather design and develop solutions based on our customers’ vision. Rooted in our long experience at the top of the research industry, where we often dealt with one-of-a-kind experiments and machines, we have acquired advanced skills in developing solutions for novel problems and unprecedented requirements. Whether they have special performance requirements for some processes, they need to develop custom WinCC OA drivers, API managers, EWO widgets, interface other business systems or develop very special user interfaces, our customers are always fully satisfied with our solutions based on their company and business vision.

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Hierarchical control

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WinCC OA already has the built-in tools to script all process control for your business. However, with our hierarchical modeling WinCC OA tool –Smart Nodes– you can do it in a quick, modular, object oriented and hierarchical manner, saving you the time normally devoted to ensuring the synchronization/handshake for your different processes and dramatically easing the modification of the logic, process analysis and troubleshooting.

Using Smart Nodes is equivalent to programming in an Object Oriented language. Therefore, you can write sophisticated functionality with less code and effort, saving a huge amount of engineering time. As an example, you can easily create your own expert system using basic WinCC OA scripting knowledge. Moreover, by encapsulating your program functionality in Smart Node object you have much more maintainable and reusable solution.

Access Control

WinCC OA provides the tools to define users and groups of users with different privileges in each of the custom defined areas of control. At Cleverdist we have extensive experience in using and extending these tools. We have experience integrating and synchronizing with our customers’ external user management tools, databases, LDAP servers, Windows Active Directories, etc. We coherently integrate access control with our customer WinCC OA user interfaces and we implement an optional mechanism allowing for the use of privilege elevation so that even when a user has high privileges in a control system, he or she would still need to explicitly elevate them when attempting to perform any action requiring it.

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Alert Handling

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Cleverdist has great expertise the alert handling domain. We do not only help our customers configure the best suited alert types but we also help in developing a whole alert handling philosophy, maximizing the efficiency of their alert system. Our systems offer the possibility of associating alerts to a certain user or group of users. We also have tools that provide specific or hierarchical alert help instructions. With our alert systems operators always know what to do. In addition, through our experience in very large systems, we are versed in protecting operators from alert avalanches. We have been using WinCC OA summary alerts and its alert reduction mechanism for years. Topping our alert offering, we have developed a notification system that can inform users via SMS, email, etc., when specific alerts rise. This notification system can be connected an LDAP server or any other external tool – like an operator shift tool – to dynamically know who it should send a notification and how (phone number, email address, etc.). In summary, we make sure that control room alert screens are used in the most efficient way, protected from avalanches, and that alerts target the right individuals.

Archiving

We have worked with all possible types of archiving in WinCC OA: File archiving, external DB archiving (OCI, ODBC, etc.) or the built-in WinCC OA Oracle archiving RDB manager. We also have a deep understanding of WinCC OA Oracle schema, and in extreme cases, we have even created custom schemas fitting our customer’s needs. We help also in developing the extension to query the data in this schema from external tools; for example, from Web Server applications. When we use WinCC OA Oracle archiving we usually configure the mechanism that allows to buffer data to disk during eventual disconnections to database. For this, we created a monitoring mechanism that raises alerts, sends notifications and temporally configures WinCC OA RDB manager to quickly restore the data to Oracle once the connection is reestablished.

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And a lot of innovation

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Innovation is an important part of Cleverdist foundations. Our years in the research industry had model or consultant brains to develop innovative thinking. Artificial intelligence, computer vision, augmented/virtual/mixed reality and a long list of innovative possibilities that we have coherently integrated within WinCC OA to bring the most advanced and efficient technologies to our customers allowing them to stand out from their competitors. They tell us about their dream vision of a WinCC OA solution and we made it a reality that surpasses expectations.

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