Industrial Systems Applications

High-performance control systems in any environment

The Industrial Internet is impacting manufacturing, mining, SCADA, oil and gas and more. Benefits include easier integration of large systems, more secure and distributed SCADA controllers, and better monitoring with cloud-based analysis and real-time feedback to the operational system.

  • Reliability. Connext DDS naturally supports redundant publishers and subscribers and fast failover. It also supports redundant networks allowing systems to send updates over multiple paths. The software ensures that only one is delivered to the recipient.
  • Connectivity. Connext DDS connects anything to anything. It supports over 80 platforms over 12 different transport layers. Thus, a C++ program on Linux can talk to embedded devices running VxWorks, a PC running a Java GUI, and an Android tablet. Each node sees data in its native format. The connection is completely transparent.
  • Integration. Connext DDS Routing Service (RS) integrates easily. RS supports many different protocols. It also allows building large systems with multiple different address spaces.
  • Storage. Connext DDS manages data storage. The software has a recording service that meticulously records every message for later analysis or even playback. It has a database integration service that can store any data to a database. And, it has a persistence service to guarantee updates are not lost across subsystem failures or reboot.

The Industrial Internet of Things targets industrial systems. New protocols such as DDS can merge with traditional approaches in the industry such as OPC-UA. Together, these systems can build a much more intelligent industrial future.

Joy Mining Systems

Joy Mining is the world's largest underground mining equipment manufacturer. Joy's systems mine coal by digging mine channels in coal seams.

Joy equipment faces many challenges. The first is machine integration and control. The business end of the machine has a rapidly-spinning cylinder with 6-inch diamond-studded cutting teeth. It chews through rock at rates measured in tens of tons per minute. The system grinds through the rock in front, creating a rectangular mine tunnel. Hydraulic lifters support the ceiling as the machine moves forward. Automated drills and screws drive 3-ft long screws into the ceiling to stabilize it.

The rock and coal fall into a set of gathering "fingers" below the cutting cylinder. These fingers scoop up the rock and coal and deposit it onto a conveyor belt. The conveyor passes under the machine and out the back. A train of conveyor belt cars, up to a mile long, follows the cutter into the mine. The rock shoots along this train at over 400 feet per minute until it empties into rail cars at the end.

Current systems place an operator cage next to the cutter. Choking dust (potentially explosive), risk of collapse and the proximity of metal and rock mayhem make the operator cage a hazardous location.

The new 14CM Continuous Miner system uses Connext DDS. Intelligent control algorithms optimize cutter pressure and rate, follow the coal seam, ensure floor and ceiling levels and enforce machine limits to reduce failures. The operator can be moved back to a safe distance from the action. Connext DDS provides fast data availability from all the working parts of the machine to a local feedback controller. Connext DDS also delivers data up the mine to allow surface monitoring. In the future, it will integrate machine control all the way to cloud-based analysis and production monitoring systems.

Connext DDS Routing Service isolates the real-time devices from the enterprise without preventing interaction. Routing Service exports only those data that the upstream systems need. It subsamples to control data rates. It implements changeable filtering that offers access to any data a surface operator requests.

Problems in the mine are very serious; complete situational analysis capability is critical for safe operation. Joy uses the Connext DDS Recording Service to keep careful track of all the critical machine parameters. The complete operational state of the machine is available at any time.

Industrial Systems Applications
The Joy Mining 14CM Continuous Miner must operate in extremely hazardous conditions. Data connectivity, both within the machine and to surface operations, is critical.

Large SCADA at NASA KSC

NASA's Constellation launch control system is the largest in the world. With over 400,000 control points, it connects together all the equipment needed to monitor and prep the rocket systems. During launch, a very tightly-controlled sequence enables the main rocket engines, charges all the attitude thrusters, monitors thousands of different values that make up a modern space system. It must also adapt to the various mission payloads, some of which need special preparation and monitoring for launch.

The launch control system has very tight and unique communications requirements. The system is distributed over a large area and the control room. It must be secure. It is a "tidal" system; activity cycles through the surge of preparation, spikes during the actual launch, then ebbs afterwards. During the most critical few seconds, it sends hundreds of thousands of messages per second. Connext DDS intelligently batches updates from thousands of sensors, reducing traffic dramatically. Everything must be stored for later analysis. All information is viewable (after downsampling) on HMI stations in the control room. After launch, all the data must be available for replay, both to analyze the launch, and to debug future modifications in simulation.

Industrial Systems Applications
NASA KSC's Constellation launch control is a massive, reliable SCADA system. It comprises over 400k points, spread across the launch platform and the control room.
Industrial Systems Applications
The launch control system integrates many thousands of devices, from tiny sensors to large enterprise storage systems. It is spread over many miles.
Industrial Systems Applications
The Constellation launch SCADA system is massive. It captures sensor data to both Recording Services (for forensic use) and Persistence Service (for durability). The Routing Service-to-Routing Service encrypts data between the event platform and control room.
Industrial Systems Applications
RTI Connext DDS is part of NASA's strategy to use COTS systems wherever possible.

Schneider Automation PLCs

Schneider Automation, a world leader in discrete automation systems, uses Connext DDS and Connext DDS Micro to connect PLCs on factory floors. Connext DDS Micro allows Schneider to connect even smaller PLCs and embedded devices that have limited storage or processing capabilities. Thus, Schneider can meet cost targets for manufacturing systems.

Schneider Electric already used Connext DDS in its high-end Quantum and Premium lines of PLCs. To realize the vision of full connectivity among embedded devices on the factory floor, it was necessary to incorporate an implementation of the DDS-RTPS wire protocol into all devices, not just the most sophisticated and expensive.

Connext DDS Micro implements a subset of the DDS API and features. However, it has all of the essential communication and data features of the full implementation, so in practice a device running the resource-constrained version can be treated just like a device with the full version. Both Connext DDS and Connext DDS Micro are 100 percent compatible with the OMG DDS-RTPS wire protocol. Thus, any kind of device or sensor can be plugged in to the network and communicate openly with regular nodes.

Connext DDS supports "plug and play" discovery with minimal configuration. Connext DDS Micro implements a more primitive version of discovery that requires more configuration. However, Connext DDS Micro can leverage the discovery capabilities of any full-featured nodes on the network, thus making plug and play available to all nodes.

Industrial Systems Applications
Schneider Automation is a global supplier of factory automation equipment. Schneider uses a combination of Connext DDS and Connext DDS Micro to provide easy, fast connectivity to any size computer, PLC, device, or sensor.

Manufacturing Testing

Light and strong advanced composites make advanced aircraft quiet and efficient. However, these advanced materials require a different process for testing and validation.

Lund Engineering uses RTI to integrate a composite-material inspection system for large airframes. The system consists of a robotic arm that can pass an x-ray source over a wing (for example) while also positioning a receiver on the other side of the structure. The data is then sent for analysis to uncover any anomaly in manufacturing.

Connext DDS is used to control the robotic system, as well as the x-ray source and sensor positioning and image generation. It connects all the systems to an operator station for easy control and visualization.

Critically, all data must be saved for validation. Connext DDS Database Integration Service stores all data to permanent storage. Use is very simple; the data model information is already on the bus. The database integration service simply writes the data in the same structure to disk.

Manufacturing Execution System

Discrete manufacturing systems control a batch or lot as it is processed by one or more control applications. Connext DDS can build systems that monitor and update the state of an object as it goes through any workflow. Connext DDS can readily implement a Manufacturing Execution System design to manage lot dispatch, monitoring, and system control. Easy data connectivity also eases detecting and reporting errors throughout the system.

A major manufacturing board and equipment vendor used Connext DDS as a Manufacturing Service Bus (MSB). The DDS-based communications make the MSB agile and easily reconfigurable. Thus, it allows production to be adjusted in reaction to demand, competition, and regulation.

The DDS technology makes the MSB independent of the programming language, hardware, and operating system used by each component. It provides automatic service discovery, data-normalization, health monitoring, mediation, and many other services directly in the infrastructure. In addition, Connext DDS features the scalability, performance, determinism and real-time QoS support needed to operate in the manufacturing loop. Moreover, the server-less peer-to-peer architecture makes deployment in the factory easy – there are no extra services or computers to manage.

The Manufacturing Service Bus layer provides services for manufacturing applications
The Manufacturing Service Bus (blue boxes) connect the real-time modules required to implement sequencing control. This system manages lots, including dispatch, monitoring, and control. It is capable of very flexible "as needed" workflow specifications.