Illuminating a Utah Mountain Thanks to INGEAR
INGEAR had just the technology Spencer Systems required to communicate with Visual Studio and the Micrologix 1100 controller located on the mountain side and connected via WiFi radios.
Googling the phrase “.NET PLC driver” lead Rhett Spencer of Heber City, UT, Spencer Systems to www.ingeardrivers.com.
According to Spencer, “Our first project using INGEAR was to provide a simple user interface to operate a string of lights near the top of a mountain in Utah. The lights illuminated the large letter for the school below. In the past someone had to hike or take an off road vehicle up to the lights to turn them on and off. The proposal was to create a simple C# web application that anyone with the correct username and password could operate the lights using a computer or cell phone web browser.”
“Our second challenge was the monitoring of a PLC network that was spread across hundreds of square miles of Utah mountains and valleys. Connected together via fiber optic cable, Wifi Radios, Cat5, Controlnet, Data Highway and numerous ethernet switches and patch panels, and making this data available via an OPC server that any HMI could utilize it. The idea was to try to monitor as many devices and network paths as possible in order to speed up the troubleshooting time when a network problem arose. We again chose INGEAR as one of our technology partners and utilized their NET.ABLINK and NET.LOGIX class libraries as we had a mixture of new and old PLC’s to monitor,” noted Spencer.
The company was attempting to do this without adding programming to the existing PLC’s. This was working great with the older PLC but when it came to the newer controllogix the company was stuck, and it looked like they were going to have to add programming; it looked like they would not be able to have the status desired when the PLC was in program or faulted. After talking to INGEAR, there was an appropriate update; the needed functionality was up and running within a couple of weeks.
“INGEAR’s .NET class libraries worked seamlessly with our OPC server and HMI systems, our project was finished and is working as advertised,” enthused Spencer.
The INGEAR.NET software from CimQuest is a set of runtime free class libraries that simplify building, developing, and deploying connected systems for manufacturing applications using Visual Basic or Visual Studio .NET. It uses only three primary classes of .NET code:
one of which manages the PLC,
one manages the data that are read from or written to that PLC,
one manages groupings of methods, properties, and events to optimize read/write operations on a collection.
It includes a direct Ethernet communication channel to the PLCs enabling developers to write HMI interfaces to PLC controls or acquiring data from them. No additional third-party components, drivers, APIs or tools, such as OPC Servers, are required. This simple programming model by CimQuest InGear contributes to faster response times and ease of use and ultimately – profitability.
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