WinCC Open Architecture 3.13
Back in 2014 we attended the presentation of WinCC OA 3.12. Once again, we were invited to the presentation of the new 3.13 version at CERN premises. Like in previous versions, this one comes with some expected enhancements, a new driver (IEC 61400) and some new interesting features and tools. We would like to highlight a few of these items for our readers.
First of all, the video extension now finally allows for very much expected features: recording and playback. More important in the enhancement section, now there is the possibility for unidirectional distributed system connections. This feature is very useful in large projects having some nodes in the distributed hierarchy with several distributed connections. If playing smartly, this feature can be used to reduce substantially the load on those critical nodes. We are sure that many of our friends at CERN are looking forward to use this feature.
If your company still didn’t create its own framework, WinCC OA now brings a tool to standardize the development of your wizard panels and achieve this way a homogenous and quite good looking user interface set. A new SOAP interface has also been included to allow communicating to external reporting tools such as BIRT, which is a state-of-the-art open source platform to create reports that can be easily embedded into web applications.
In the engineering side, WinCC OA gets up to speed with modern IDEs by improving the GEDI scripting editor function helpers. In the graphical side, different types of snapping between shapes are now possible.
Finally, we would like to highlight the new Plant Model tool. Back at CERN, the JCOP framework was already providing different possible views of a system: a hardware view (racks, crates, voltage channel…), a logical view (detector, chamber, sensor…) and an operational finite-state-machine view. A very much needed logical view was developed by using a feature agreed with ETM along time: aliases. Using aliases at CERN we could create logical relationships between devices. Using this, hardware changes on a physical system, like re-cabling a module to assign a different voltage channel, wouldn’t require changes in the peripheral addresses of the datapoints (that is a delicate intervention in a production system and implies a complicated archiving and traceability), but would just need of an alias changing. The new Plant Model goes in some way into this direction. Using Plant Model one can create multiple hierarchies of logical and datapoint nodes so one can browse the system from different points of view. After a first hands-on this tool we see its great potential and we find it is a very good step towards greatly increasing the engineering efficiency for large systems. It would be fantastic to see in following versions that logical nodes can be of different types (different logical types versus a unique logical generic type) and that a custom user panel could be assigned to each node (logical or device) type. This node type would receive, as a dollar parameter, the corresponding node id-path so it could display specific information for that node. Together with this, the possibility of archiving these hierarchies, and therefore make possible hierarchical historical queries would make this tool even greater. At Cleverdist we are sure we will be seeing this enhancement coming up soon and therefore have become already big Plant Model fans.
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