Long gone are the days when a process automation project was solely focused on real-time control. Nowadays, operator interface and data handling are often just as important, sometimes more so.
Therefore, it’s more important than ever for programming software to include not only a powerful real-time control engine, but also closely integrated-human machine interface (HMI) and data handling functions, all in one integrated development environment.
Addressing these requirements, Opto 22 announces PAC Project Software Suite R10. This release supports its new groov EPIC system, adds eight new control commands, and provides the ability to designate individual I/O and variable tags as Public Access for read-only or read-write use in data communications via MQTT/Sparkplug. HMI programming is still included, and it uses the same tag name database as the real-time control engine, creating automatic integration between the two functions.
Opto 22’s industrial controllers—SNAP PAC programmable automation controllers and now groov EPIC edge programmable industrial controllers—are typically programmed using the PAC Project Software Suite. PAC Project Basic, free for download, includes flowchart-based control programming with optional scripting, a configuration utility and HMI development. PAC Project Professional adds an OPC server, database connectivity, PC-based control configuration and support for legacy Opto 22 I/O units. The Pro version sells for just under $1,000.
The suite’s control programming software, PAC Control, is full-featured and easy to use, with more than 450 commands in plain English, plus graphical PID tuning and debugging.
HMI programing is provided with PAC Display. PAC Display Basic is a user-friendly HMI package for building operator interface applications to communicate with groov EPIC processors, SNAP PAC controllers and Ethernet-based I/O units. PAC Display offers rich features including alarming, trending, security and a library of more than 3,000 industrial automation graphics.
PAC Display Professional adds the capability to use redundant scanners and redundant Ethernet links on groov EPIC processors and SNAP PAC controllers. PAC Display Professional also enables logging of SuperTrends, historical logs and runtime operator logging data files to an ODBC database.
The most important new feature with this new release is support for groov EPIC. Its control logic and I/O can be programmed with PAC Control, and customers can use PAC Display to develop a Microsoft Windows-based HMI to run on a separate PC. The groov EPIC’s integrated high-resolution touchscreen is not configured with PAC Display, but is instead configured with groov View software, supplied free with groov EPIC.
New commands added to PAC Control include two specifically for groov EPIC: Get I/O Channel Quality and Get I/O Unit Quality. The groov EPIC I/O modules incorporate LEDs that change color based on the health of the module, revealing data quality to a local technician, and this information can also be configured or retrieved programmatically in control logic using these two new commands.
Another major new feature is full support for MQTT/Sparkplug data communication, provided by Ignition Edge, which is embedded in groov EPIC. MQTT’s publish-subscribe communication architecture is superior to request-response methods, and Sparkplug optimizes MQTT for industrial applications.
Public Access tags are a new PAC Control capability, improving MQTT/Sparkplug security. During configuration the developer can use Public Access to designate which tags to expose, and to designate each exposed tag for read-only or for read-write.
Tags in PAC Control include I/O channels and program variables, some of which can be represented in the Public Access space in more than one way. For example, an integer can be represented as an integer, a Boolean value or an individual bit within the integer. A table can be represented as a table, one element in the table or even one bit of one element—providing a great deal of flexibility in how tags are exposed or protected.
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