The TwinCAT Analytics product family describes a complete workflow from the acquisition of data to its communication and historization to its analysis and visualization in web-based dashboards.
1. Data acquisition
The TwinCAT Analytics Logger is responsible for logging the data. It works in the real-time context of TwinCAT on the machine controller. It records data from the PLC and the process image in a cycle-synchronous manner and stores it in a file or transmits it to the outside world.
The system uses the IoT communication protocol MQTT. It features a lot of flexibility and a simplified IT setup based on the publisher-subscriber pattern, with the Analytics Logger and all other Analytics products acting as clients. They only know the connection data to the central message broker.
3. Data historization
To ensure that machine data can be stored permanently in databases, the TwinCAT Analytics Storage Provider features corresponding interfaces and carries out all required data handling. Users do not need to have any knowledge regarding table structures and data links. They can access data by its name without having to use any SQL commands during the engineering process.
4. Data analysis
For data analysis, the two engineering products Analytics Service Tool and Workbench are used. Both have an identical structure and provide a graphical configurator for analysis. A toolbox provides numerous algorithms (e.g. simple flank counters with and without hysteresis), functions for the time analysis of machine processes, logical operators, envelope monitoring, productivity diagnostics, as well as various classifiers and comparators. Live data from machines via MQTT and historical data from the Storage Provider or log files can be analyzed. Particularly convenient is the automatic TwinCAT Scope configuration, which can be generated at the click of a button. All important variables of the configured analysis are directly available and can be supplemented with additional data. By means of the resulting links, analysis results can be dragged from the analysis and dropped into the charting tool to visualize results or highlight significant events in the data stream.
The goal is to implement a continuous data analysis independently of engineering tools. To accomplish this, the application designer or analyst can use the TwinCAT Analytics Workbench to automatically convert the configuration into PLC code that can be activated, read and edited. The code can run on an Analytics runtime parallel to the machines being analyzed. Based on the PLC code, the user can also generate a web-based dashboard with a modern tile design since for each algorithm at least one HMI control is available. For the dashboard itself, it is possible to customize header colors, logos, layouts, sort sequences, themes, languages and much more within the Workbench.
The TwinCAT 3 Scope View is a software oscilloscope for the graphic representation of signal curves in different chart types. These could be, for example, YT, XY, bar or digital charts. The Scope View Professional extends the Scope View Base version supplied with TwinCAT 3 XAE by additional functionalities. The field of application refers to processes that are to be tracked and monitored over a longer period of time.
The TwinCAT 3 Analytics Workbench is a TC3 engineering product for the creation of continual data analyses from various spatially distributed machine controllers. The configuration of the workbench is integrated in Microsoft Visual Studio® and serves as the graphic user interface. Many algorithms are available in a toolbox for the configuration of the analysis:
The TwinCAT 3 Analytics Service Tool is used for commissioning the machine and for service engineers. Live and historical data can be retrieved for an analysis via the IoT connection. The analysis is configured in Microsoft Visual Studio® where the user has access to a toolbox of algorithms for implementing the relevant life time, cycle time, envelope or component counter analysis. The outputs of the algorithms can be used as inputs for other algorithms or can be output as a result directly in the graphical editor. Signal paths can be visualized with ease by means of parallel recording with the TwinCAT Scope. Analysis results can be dragged by the user from the analytics configurator and dropped in the charting tool so as to mark the significant positions in the data stream. The interaction between the product components offers advantages in particular for diagnosing machine behavior and can highlight optimization potential. The user’s location is immaterial owing to the IoT technologies used, which means that service technicians can perform system and machine diagnostics from practically any location.
The TwinCAT 3 Analytics Logger provides for the acquisition of process and application data from the machine controller in synchronization with the cycle. The logger is characterized by high performance because it works directly in the real-time context of the TwinCAT controller. The data acquired is optionally transmitted to a message broker via the IoT communication protocol MQTT or stored locally in a file on the hard drive of the machine control and recorded with ring buffer functionality. The configuration necessary for this is done in Microsoft Visual Studio® within the TwinCAT project. All variables of the process image and the PLC application can easily be added to the configuration via checkbox without any programming effort.
The TwinCAT 3 Analytics Library is a PLC library with analysis functions for process and application data. It can be used locally on the machine controller or on a remote analysis system with an IoT communication connection. In both use cases, a great deal of engineering time can be saved with the automatic PLC code generation by the TE3500 TC3 Analytics Workbench. For local use, only the mapping takes place manually; in the IoT workflow, even the mapping is omitted and is carried out automatically.
The TwinCAT 3 Analytics Storage Provider is an IoT client and forms the interface for raw and analysis data from various sources to one or more storages or to one or more databases. The data are deposited in the storage as a binary blob. A Microsoft SQL database and the TwinCAT Analytics binary file are supported for on-premises solutions. Both are usable in cloud applications; an Azure Blob Storage can also be used natively in the cloud. The data selection for the read and write direction takes place centrally via the TwinCAT Target Browser in the TwinCAT Engineering environment. The user selects the data via the self-defined variable name in the machine application and the corresponding time period; complex SQL commands are not necessary. The sources for the historical data can be the TF3500 TC3 Analytics Logger, the TF6720 TC3 IoT Data Agent and the EK9160 IoT Bus Coupler. In addition to the engineering tools TE3500 TC3 Analytics Workbench and TE3520 TC3 Analytics Service Tool, the recipients of the data are the two runtime products TF3550 TC3 Analytics Runtime and TF3551 TC3 Analytics Runtime Base.
The TwinCAT 3 Analytics Runtime is the runtime “container” for the Analytics application, which was configured and developed in the TE3500 TC3 Analytics Workbench. The runtime can be installed locally, on remote hardware or in a virtual machine. It also contains the TF2000 TC3 HMI Server, which hosts the analytics dashboard. In summary, the TC3 Analytics Runtime represents a bundle of different licenses. It contains a PLC runtime, the Analytics PLC library, the IoT connection with MQTT and HTTPS/Rest, the Storage Provider connection, the TC3 HMI Server and a corresponding client package, so that several users can view the designed Analytics Dashboard simultaneously.