We tried a protocol gateway device from a competing firm, but it was unable to successfully send data to the historian. RTA got it done.

Michael Aksen / Project Consultant, Rensselaer Polytechnical Institute

Keeping the Factory Floor Ripping Along

The Factory Amsterdam (TFA) in Latham, NY, prides itself on providing high-quality manufacturing services to a broad range of industries. Its initial vision was to bring advanced manufacturing technologies to the capital region of upstate New York. Over the years, they’ve narrowed their focus “to deliver quality results in record time.”

They were looking for a way to reduce downtime on their 40-year-old industrial bandsaw and make its cutting process more robust. They decided to create a dashboard to display operational inefficiencies and assist in establishing quality indicators on the machine. First, a PLC was retrofitted to the machine to replace its relay logic with ladder logic. The next step was to connect the PLC to a data historian to organize its raw data into a functional data model.

The issue? The PLC utilized Modbus and MQTT as industrial communication standards. However, the historian platform primarily employed OPC UA and MTConnect as its data model standards. Bridging this IT/OT communication gap became a stumbling block. “We tried a protocol gateway device from a competing firm,” said Michael Aksen, a project consultant from Rensselaer Polytechnical Institute, “but it was unable to successfully send data to the historian.”

Michael then turned to Real Time Automation® and their 460MRSUS protocol gateway, which connects a Modbus RTU master device with up to three OPC UA clients.

The data from the PLC was serialized by a subroutine on the PLC software into a set of single-word integer registers (DS). These were structured in the software as operational parameters, with the corresponding data model shown below.

The RTA gateway then converted the serial Modbus RTU data from the PLC into native OPC UA object data, allowing the historian to chronicle and analyze it. With the networking system established, the data was available on the historian and could be configured into a dashboard for operational insights and further improvements.

“The results have been fantastic,” said TFA. “The dashboard does exactly what we needed it to do: display operational data in real-time so we can keep the saw running at peak performance. And the RTA gateway does exactly what we needed it to do: convert serial-based data to object-based data to be displayed. The product works great.”

Real Time Automation has been delivering innovative communications solutions to the industrial automation market since 1989. RTA products seamlessly integrate process equipment so control engineers and integrators can collect, analyze and interpret the real-time data needed to improve productivity and maximize efficiencies.

RTA specializes in making easy-to-use connectivity products, including industrial protocol gateways, embedded source code stacks and customized OEM solutions. RTA’s products are used on factory floors all over the world and come backed by industry-leading Enginerd® tech support to help save time, money and aggravation. And, RTA products come with a five-year warranty, are made in America and are always in stock, ready to ship the same day (with orders placed before 2:00 PM CST).

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