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Labview vs other software for this application

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Hi, I'm involved in a project that consists on making an interface to supervise a job on real time and acquiring data from a controller to save it on a database.

I'm going to use Labview because the enterprise uses it for some applications on testbenches so they already have the licence. But I need to make a report about what the other solutions are, with their advantages and disadvantages comparing to Labview for this specific application.  

 

I read some topics and I understand that in general Labview's strenght is acquiring and processing signals, but for simple SCADA it's better to use software like InTouch, iFIX or Citect. So I would appreciate if anyone can give me information about if those softwares could be used for my application and what are the advantages and disadvantages.

 

I'll explain in detail my application:

 

There's an electric torque screwdriver and it has its own controller. On the controller you can set up all the torque curves to be used in different components, saving them in up to 99 different channels. The enterprise I'm working in bought a couple of these to use them in some electronic components that require precision on the fastening of the screws. A big detail is that it's important to make the fastenings in a sequence.  

 

So what I need to do is an interface where the operator chooses from a list the component that he's going to make the work (when he clicks on the name in the listbox, it should appear a photo of the component so he's sure that that´s the one). Then he chooses to start the job. The front panel changes to show the component with LEDs instead of the screws, to show the sequence of the fastening (the LED1 starts turned on, then after the operator makes the fastening it turns off and the LED2 turns on, and so on until he finishes all the sequence). It also has an indicator to show the torque being applied, and two LEDs to show if the fastening was OK or No-Good.

 

After the operator finishes the last fastening, he finishes the job and all the information is saved in a database (the serial number, total time, torque curves, results, etc) 

 

By the way, the communication with the controller is made with Modbus over TCP/IP. The provider gave a manual with all the addresses of the signals for the modbus protocol to make an interface on a panel pc.

 

So, can all the other SCADA softwares do exactly that? Would it be easier? I have only worked with Labview so I don't know about the other stuff, a comparison with one or two should be enough.

 

Thanks in advance, every information is useful.

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Hi there,

 

It's a loaded question to be sure. But we have had to consider similar things in the past before as well. Here would be my feedback:

  • We use Intouch for production equipment HMIs. This is mainly due to the ease of rapid prototyping and the enhanced graphical capabilities that are needed. We find that LabVIEW is sorely lacking in this department - our HMIs are intended to be operated with minimal training and be accessible to the "swipe" generation.
  • For test equipment with specialist hardware we often have a TestStand or LabVIEW back-end that does a lot of the hardware interfacing. For other automation equipment we often revert back to cheap but effective PLCs.
  • The ability to do complex animation effects, window management and scripting is typically built-in and intuitive in most SCADA systems. It's what they are there for after all.
  • Most SCADA HMIs (Intouch included) support ModbusTCP. This is a very common communication protocol and is often "built-in"..
  • We have implemented much more complex systems than this in Intouch previously.
  • SCADA systems typically require purchasing a development license and then a run-time license on each machine running the deployed HMI. You should factor this cost into your solution chart when making the decision. You can always contact a local representative in your country to determine the expected costs.
  • Do not forget the cost of engineering time. This is difficult to gauge in your case but the fact that you are already familiar with LabVIEW is a strong tick in that column.

 

SCADA systems are not as typically good at performing test sequencing (their primary function is data collection, display and logging hence the name). In your case the infrastructure needed is not great so it is quite possible to implement what you are proposing in such a system and we have done so many times before. However I suspect that familiarity will be the biggest deciding factor for you. I would encourage you to explore the SCADA option if only for future endeavors where your requirements are different.

 

Hope that helps.

Edited by ak_nz

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Thanks a lot, that was really helpful.

 

I'm doing this project in Labview because the enterprise has the licence of it, and they even made me take some basic courses (core1, core2, connectivity and industrial protocols), so I should be fine doing this simple application using Labview. But I needed to know and make a report about what other alternatives there are to make similar projects, and their advantages and disadvantages. So now I understand what is the main functionality of the traditional SCADA packages, they learning curves and what they are capable of, to consider it for future project.

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