An underutilized item in your automation toolbox is the scripting capability embedded in your HMI software.
Quite often, the data generated by a control system requires further manipulation, massaging if you will, retransmission on alternate protocols, or long term storage on an MES/MRP system.
The default approach to these issues is typically:
- Programming in the PLC with file and data commands that are not ideally suited to the task
- Implementing a solution on a PC-based system so as to utilize third party software such as Excel
- Purchasing protocol conversion hardware such as gateways
- Saving data to text or csv files for further processing by custom written programs
While these methods can provide the required functionality, they may not be best solutions from a cost/time perspective. Depending on your role in the overall automation solution, these approaches might not even be viable.