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Download: University of Connecticut Department of Chemical Engineering uses Matrikon OPC to Simplify Simulated Process Control System

"Matrikon’s OPC Tunneller software saved me a significant amount of time from having to devise my own work-around solution, and allowed me to spend the time on development of the OPC Client and experiment."
Robert Rice,
Lab for Intelligent Process Systems
Department Of Chemical Engineering
University of Connecticut

OPC Driver As a graduate student in the field of Process Control, I am responsible for both theoretical process control, and the construction of an experimental apparatus to test said theories upon. After researching the current "state of the art" practices in industry, my advisor and I decided on designing our own OPC Client to run an experiment remotely from our lab. The experiment is used to mimic an actual plant environment, where the process system is located in an area remote to the control room. The experiment is a simple pumped tank with several disturbances, deliberately failing devices, introduction of sensor and pump lag, and useless sensors, everything a future engineer will experience in a real plant setting. Of course, all of these concepts needed to be programmed into our own client control system using Visual Basic. The concept is to design an undergraduate process control lab experiment, using standard PID controllers along with more advanced forms of MPC, which better prepares students for the real world challenges that they will be presented with. If the final project is successful, then several papers will be published concerning the design, and deployment of such a lab to other Universities and Colleges.

The idea behind OPC sounded simple enough, and the client was written in a very short period of time and tested successfully when installed locally. When the experiment was then moved into its final resting place, and the OPC client installed remotely, nothing seemed to work, you could see the server, and the particular data items, but no data was being transferred. After the blame was passed around the IT department and back again, it was brought to my attention that OPC Server/Client may have severe problems when attempting to work over multiple domains. The IT department was unwilling to budge on allowing the server to be put on our domain for security reasons, so it rested in my hands to find an alternative solution. After a few keyword searches on the internet, I ran across the Matrikon website. Their website did an outstanding job of explaining the problems with the DCOM/COM protocols and even offered a solution to my problem. Their OPC Tunneller software provided an alternative approach to connecting the OPC server to the remotely located OPC Client. After installing OPC Tunneller on both the OPC Server computer, and my local client computer, I was able to get OPC communication working within a matter of 30 minutes.

In conclusion, Matrikon’s OPC Tunneller software saved me a significant amount of time from having to devise my own work-around solution, and allowed me to spend the time on development of the OPC Client and experiment.

Author:
Robert Rice
Lab for Intelligent Process Systems
Department Of Chemical Engineering
University of Connecticut

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