Data Abstraction (Pty) Ltd

Cascades

Manufacturing operations have increasingly adopted information systems to support production and improve efficiency. Manufacturing execution systems are deployed to support this automation and provide the high-resolution tracking required for frequent, timely feedback to enterprise resources management (ERP) systems.

These systems have grown over time to form a complex web of interconnected applications that together deliver essential business services. Commonly, an established application stack consists of an enterprise resources planning system connected to an operational support system (OSS), such as: manufacturing execution, warehouse management or laboratory information management systems across an off-the-shelf Enterprise Service Bus (ESB).

Data Abstraction Cascades provides similar functionality between the OSS and the equipment used in the production process to integrate the facility into the application stack in the same way as the ESB is used to connect traditional information systems.

Deployment

Separate life-cycle of operational support system from that of the facility that it interacts with. This means that future changes can be planned without coupling the two systems together, and changes that do not affect functionality can be performed without affecting the other systems.

Realistically, a top-to-bottom application stack is not realistic in anything larger than a single machine. Larger systems are composed of complex combinations of many systems, from many vendors, deployed over an extended period of time.

These applications are integrated into each other during installation – often by the vendor of the application. After introduction, little provision is made for on-going changes caused by modifications at the other end of the integration scenario.

Custom connectors, custom components and endpoints can be developed using an API that can be licensed. The API is provided with samples that will allow the development of a custom component with only limited knowledge of the internal behaviour of the system.

Cascades block diagram

Cascades block diagram

Platform requirements

Cascades runs on commodity servers with very low processor demands. All possible I/O is asynchronous and any polling is only used for low-frequency channels where this is not possible.

All application level code is managed by a multi-domain application host for complete isolation of untrusted third-party libraries.

-   Windows Server 2008 (Server 2003 is supported on legacy installations)

-   .NET 4.0 with support for .NET 3.5 on legacy platforms with some limitations.

-   Full support for high-availability with Cluster services

Standard connectors/endpoints

Included in the standard distribution are endpoints for:

-   Raw TCP/IP

-   HTTP/S

-   Serial (RS-232) ports

-   Microsoft Message Queues

-   .NET SQLClient

-   Named pipes (supported for legacy applications)

These comprise the majority of common transports for communication between applications. Additional endpoints can be written using a software development kit (SDK) or commissioned from Data Abstraction.

Typical applications

-   Where two systems need to be integrated, but neither system provides sufficient configurability, a Cascades application can be implemented to bring the requirements of the two systems together.

-   After new hardware needs to be implemented in the facility, but cannot support interfaces supported by legacy systems. A Cascades application allows the existing systems to interoperate with the new equipment.

-   A supplementary operational support system is implemented, for example to collect detailed parts tracking information, and the existing OSS does not support feeding information to the system. A Cascades application can provide both systems with the required information in a way that neither system knows of the existence of the other – avoiding complex interactions.

Engaging with Data Abstraction

Contact us by electronic mail or telephone to discuss your needs for manufacturing software services.