OpenAPC (short for ‘open automatic process control’) is an open source SCADA software that finds wide-ranging applications from automating readings and alarms for automation systems to laser engraving. It is a complete package for multi-platform visualisation, process control and human-machine interface (HMI) application.
The automation system consists of several sub-components that specialise in different tasks. From an electronics hardware-cum-software process to mechanical process, OpenAPC provides a wide range of services. Be it automation and control of production lines to CNC and material processing, or job-work of cutting, welding and engraving, this automation software is a boon to users.
OpenAPC consists of ControlRoom, CNConstruct and BeamConstruct tools.
Fig. 1: CNConstruct (Image source: www.openapc.com)
ControlRoom is a process control software to create and run HMIs. Other than controlling machinery and production processes, it also caters to home automation.
CNConstruct is a CAD application used for seamless process control of a project undertaken in WYSIWYG environment.
BeamConstruct is similar to CNConstruct CAD application but serves laser-based operations like welding, cutting, engraving and surface cleaning.
Fig. 2: BeamConstruct (Image source: www.openapc.com)
OpenAPC is a simple but comprehensive software package that provides designers with a complete idea of automation systems including CAD-based operation. Thus, it saves their precious time.
OpenAPC supports several levels—from application development to execution. OpenEditor, a component of OpenAPC, allows designers to create applications as per their requirements. It also lets them modify existing projects.
Next, to provide an interface between the user and plug-ins, the HMI is set through Flow Editor. The Flow Editor can be modified as per the plug-ins. And this option is called OpenPlugger. Users can later run the program using OpenPlugger option.
Soon after modifications in the application developed, designers need to execute the program in OpenDebugger in order to rectify errors in the program and check data flow.
The program can be flipped between OpenEditor and OpenPlugger windows without affecting the application development or runtime.
Fig. 3: OpenAPC Debugger (Image source: www.openapc.com)
Features of OpenAPC 4.7.1
As mentioned earlier, OpenAPC performs a host of applications including CAD for process control, HMI, supervisory control, data acquisition and processing, home automation and professional automation. Version 4.7.1 has a lot more to offer.
Settings for the project executed include general settings, privilege settings and user settings. General settings for HMI editor include features such as the size of the HMI editor, grid size, snap to grid, background colour, control flow time-out and timer resolution.
Selecting ‘User Privileges’ from ‘File’ menu allows users to make changes according to priorities in the HMI editor, while user settings let them edit, add or make changes, or even delete the existing program.
Similarly, there are options for HMI control properties and types (including controls, displays, static elements and containers).
OpenEditor has options for flow symbols, creating and editing flow containers, adding flow objects and HMI objects, and editing flow objects.
Fig. 4: HMI Editor (Image source: www.openapc.com)
OpenAPC provides a flexible network capability with an open plugin interface to add new controls and interfaces during application development. Designers have the liberty to use this software on any platform—Windows, XP, Linux, MacOS and more. Project creation in OpenAPC is easy due to visual editor, which provides designers with an option to switch between applications, make changes on the editor, interface and debug simultaneously. File transfer is simple with no operation costs involved.
Above all, OpenAPC is a very simple software that can be used by designers without any special training. The ease of understanding the commands in this automation software, and no fancy features that overlap, make it a designer-friendly tool.
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