When it comes to programmable logic controller (PLC) projects and PLC connectivity solutions, it’s common for systems integrators to create custom solutions. After all, custom solutions are your specialty. For example, many project applications, such as track and trace, quality monitoring, production metrics monitoring or high-speed sorting, involve connecting a PLC at the plant floor — which is where the data originates — to SQL databases or cloud — which is where the data will be stored or manipulated.
But how does the data get from the PLC to the cloud or database? That’s usually where the PC comes in, where the code is written, where the protocol translations are happening and where you find yourself knee-deep in systems integration.
When you step back from this situation and look at the big picture, you have three important things to consider
System integration using a PC and custom code can come with a lot of errors in project estimation, increase risk, cost money and possibly even put your customer at risk. Fortunately, there are built-for-purpose integration solutions that eliminate the PC, eliminate custom code, and eliminate protocol conversion for PLC-to-database and cloud integration projects. This built-for-purpose connectivity solution lets you focus on the added value for your customer and enables you to more accurately estimate projects by avoiding integration via custom coding.
One way to improve consistency — the amount of “knowns” — is to deploy an in-chassis programmable logic controller (PLC) transaction manager that can “standardize” IT/OT data integration — a process that has traditionally involved developing custom software or configuring databases. Let’s take a closer look at how the Softing tManager® Enterprise Appliance Transaction Module can help you minimize project risk.
In the past, the challenge to connectivity between the PLC and SQL database was the PC server, along with custom software and OPC protocol translation. What you might not be aware of is that Rockwell has eliminated the need for all three of these challenges with tManager. This in-chassis PLC module enables bidirectional data exchange between enterprise systems and ControlLogix® and CompactLogix™ PLCs, eliminating the PC in the middle, eliminating custom coding and eliminating protocol translation.
As a Rockwell in-chassis solution, tManager overcomes many of the challenges that come with traditional PC solutions. Fortunately, we’re beginning to see systems integrators rethinking the PC approach for many reasons. For one, connectivity is not where systems integrators can add value. Rather, their value comes from what can be done with the data after everything is connected. There are also many pitfalls that come with building custom connectivity solutions.
Here’s how tManager overcomes the above challenges and “standardizes” IT/OT data integration. Once you insert it into the PLC rack, the module automatically enumerates PLC and database tags and structures without requiring any software coding or scripting. Because it’s part of the Rockwell Automation Technology Partner program, tManager can directly access backplane data and control tags. In addition to moving plant floor data between enterprise systems and PLCs, the module lets you connect PLCs to your preferred Cloud application, analytics app or dashboard — all in 10 minutes or less. And, it’s compatible with a wide range of databases including Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle Database, MySQL, AWS IoT SiteWise and Azure Cloud.
Developed and refined over 15 years, tManager eliminates the PC server, software or scripting often used to orchestrate transactions between the PLC and database. Using this device to handle transactions also decreases project risk, overcoming many of the challenges systems integrators face:
To learn more about how tManager can reduce your errors and commissioning time while improving your profit margins, visit the product page.