Tuesday, February 15, 2011

PAC Exchange Data with Enterprise Systems

The PAC (Programmable Automation Controller) exchanges production, manufacturing, and inventory data with an enterprise SQL database. This database in turn shares data with several key business systems, including an ERP (enterprise resource planning) system, OEE (operational equipment effectiveness) system, and SCM (supply chain management) system. Because data from the factory floor is automatically and constantly updated by the PAC, timely and valuable updated by the PAC, timely and valuable information is available continually for all business systems.

A RTU (Remote Terminal Unit) is a controller like device that installed at a remote location to collect sensor and other data. Popular for decades, RTUs are typically used as part of a supervisory control and data acquisition network, where an RTU sends data to a master. The RTU also receives information from the supervisory control and data acquisition master to operate field devices at the remote location.

RTUs are primarily deployed in distant geographic areas to acquire, monitor, and control remotely dispersed assets such as pipelines, lift stations, wellheads, or telecommunication facilities. Traditional PLCs do not natively posses the communication capabilities needed for use in these types of applications. PLCs typically do not offer the ruggedness to withstand hash environmental conditions, nor the flexible I/O configuration required in most RTU applications. RTUs were developed specifically with a focus on communication capabilities in the absence of these capabilities, with a focus on communication capabilities, suitability for harsh environments, and flexible I/O configuration.

However, legacy RTU communication capabilities are usually outdated, as they were developed in a time of private radio or leased line networks. Today’s open, IP based wireless and wired local and wide area networks are more flexible and often less expensive. Because of this retrofitting an implementing new applications or existing RTU using outdated RTU technology does not make good business or technical sense.

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