10 Reasons to Add LabVIEW to Your PLC

Publish Date: Jun 28, 2012 | 22 Ratings | 2.73 out of 5 |  PDF

Table of Contents

  1. Overview
  2. Reason 1: LabVIEW for High-Speed Measurements from a Broad Range of Sensors
  3. Reason 2: LabVIEW for Vibration Monitoring and Predictive Maintenance
  4. Reason 3: LabVIEW for Data Logging
  5. Reason 4: LabVIEW for Statistical Process Control
  6. Reason 5: LabVIEW for Sharing Data between PLCs and other Automation Devices
  7. Reason 6: LabVIEW for Developing Graphical User Interfaces
  8. Reason 7: LabVIEW for Alarming, Logging, Scaling and Reporting
  9. Reason 8: LabVIEW for Enterprise and Database Connectivity
  10. Reason 9: LabVIEW for Advanced Algorithms and Custom Motion Control
  11. Reason 10: LabVIEW for Fast Throughput and Reliability with FPGA-based Control

1. Overview

Both process and discrete manufacturers are under increasing pressure to maximize efficiency, reduce downtime, and improve yield. Manufacturers recognize that the key to making these improvements is timely and accurate information. However, information development is complicated by the mix of hardware and software that exists in plants and the limitation of traditional systems. You can incorporate LabVIEW into your existing system to add measurements and analysis to your processes to gather complex data and convert it into useful information. Additionally, through the openness of LabVIEW you can connect and provide the information where it is needed, whether that is in a database, available on a web based dashboard, or provided into the existing plant control hardware. You can even use LabVIEW to close feedback loops and perform complex control operations using the provided information.

This whitepaper presents 10 compelling reasons to add LabVIEW to your PLCs.

Related Resources
LabVIEW
Programmable Automation Controllers

What is LabVIEW?

LabVIEW is a graphical development environment that complements IEC 61131-3 based PLCs by incorporating PC and embedded technologies for real-time analysis, monitoring, advanced control, and predictive maintenance. You can significantly achieve better throughput, yield and uptime by adding LabVIEW to your existing PLC-based systems. The new NI LabVIEW 8.5 enhances the industrial measurement capabilities of LabVIEW with new features designed for advanced analysis and control, improved distributed system management and new targets for human-machine interfaces (HMIs). For instance, new libraries in LabVIEW allow engineers to use streamlined FPGA targeting tools to implement high performance, hardware-based machine monitoring and protection systems and the new LabVIEW Touch Panel Module, which helps them to use the same software to create Windows CE-based HMIs. LabVIEW introduces technology that simplifies custom controller hardware development and provides new display targets. With LabVIEW, engineers and machine builders can use one software tool to design and deploy industrial systems performing high-performance measurements, FPGA-based advanced analysis and control, communication to existing systems, and human-machine interfaces.

Test drive LabVIEW by download, online, or by DVD!

Figure 1: What is LabVIEW?

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2. Reason 1: LabVIEW for High-Speed Measurements from a Broad Range of Sensors

Whether you are taking measurements from thermocouples, strain gauges, IEPE accelerometers, bridge-based sensors or quadrature encoders, LabVIEW offers you a reliable and easy platform to gather data. With LabVIEW, you quickly can acquire and generate signals from plug-in boards, USB devices, and Ethernet-based systems. These I/O capabilities, combined with special data types and measurement analysis functions, are specifically designed to get the measurements you need from your physical sensors as quickly and easily as possible. For acquiring images, LabVIEW supports thousands of cameras, with software libraries for acquiring images and analyzing them in real time. LabVIEW also supports a variety of hardware such as NI CompactDAQ and NI CompactRIO for conditioned and intelligent measurements.

Many industrial applications need to collect high speed measurements for vibration or power quality applications. The collected data is used to monitor the condition of rotating machinery, determine maintenance schedules, identify motor wear, and adjust control algorithms. LabVIEW can directly take high accuracy measurements at millions of samples per second, which are then passed directly into their control systems for immediate processing.

See Also:
Data Acquisition

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3. Reason 2: LabVIEW for Vibration Monitoring and Predictive Maintenance


Predictive maintenance and machine health monitoring is an essential part of any automation system for achieving maximum uptime. The LabVIEW Sound and Vibration and LabVIEW Order Analysis toolkits complement general-purpose LabVIEW measurement analysis and determinism functions with analysis and displays for applications involving vibration analysis and rotating machinery. With these toolkits, you can calculate overall vibration level (RMS, peak, crest factor); integrate from acceleration to velocity or displacement; operate online order analysis such as order tracking, order extraction, and order spectra computation; process digital and analog tachometer signals; apply limit testing on time data or power spectra; and draw spectral maps, color maps, waterfall plots, cascade plots, Bode plots, polar plots, orbit plots, timebase plots, shaft centerline plots, and Campbell (intensity) plots.


Figure 2 : Analysis on Accelerometer Data for Vibration Monitoring in LabVIEW

The LabVIEW 8.5 FPGA Module adds new functions for implementing filters, fixed-point math, alarming and measurements so engineers can build FPGA-based machine protection systems. By combining the rugged, compact design of CompactRIO; the reliability of FPGA-based implementation; and the ease-of-use of LabVIEW FPGA, developers now can embed powerful protection monitoring and control systems into their industrial machines.

See Also:
NI LabVIEW for Industrial Measurements and Control Applications
Math and Analysis with LabVIEW

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4. Reason 3: LabVIEW for Data Logging


LabVIEW provides utilities for data logging and alarm management, as well as real-time and historical trending. Whether you are collecting data from National Instruments data acquisition products, LabVIEW Real-Time targets, Compact FieldPoint or CompactRIO modules, or programmable logic controllers, you can quickly configure the I/O you want and use the LabVIEW Datalogging and Supervisory Control (DSC) Module to automatically log the data. The historical data is stored in Citadel, an SQL 92 and ODBC 2.5-compliant database, so you can use standard data extraction tools to retrieve the information for use in other parts of the enterprise. Because you can use the LabVIEW DSC Module to log the data to any machine on your network, you can select a single machine to serve as your database host for all of your applications or choose to distribute the data among numerous networked machines. In addition, the intuitive wizards in LabVIEW help you develop a full data-logging application with little to no programming. Using LabVIEW, you can easily log data to a file in CSV, Excel, or XML format for offline analysis. Offline order analysis can help you do predictive maintenance such as changing bearings before they actually fail. LabVIEW can also log data to databases if needed.

See Also:
Datalogging with LabVIEW

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5. Reason 4: LabVIEW for Statistical Process Control


LabVIEW performs real-time performance analysis with Pareto charts, which help the plant engineer narrow down the primary cause for downtime on the machine. This analysis is performed using Statistical Process Control functions avaliable in LabVIEW DSC Module. Given either an unsorted list of causes or a list of causes with the number of occurrences for each cause, the Pareto Counter sorts the list from the cause with the largest number of occurrences to the smallest and computes Pareto statistics for each cause. Given a set of Pareto values (output of the Pareto Counter VI) two Pareto Charts and the associated legend are created. One is a bar chart of the frequency of occurrence of each cause. The other is a bar chart of the percentage contribution of each cause. The legend is a list of cause codes with their rank. For example, if the maximum time spent by the machine is in the HELD state, you can check on what is causing the machine to be held for such a long time. The cause for this could be frequent jams caused by inconsistent raw material or operator error. The higher the percent of total time in the PRODUCING state, the more effective is your machine.



Figure 3: Pareto Charts in LabVIEW

See Also:
Statistical Process Control with LabVIEW

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6. Reason 5: LabVIEW for Sharing Data between PLCs and other Automation Devices


Whether you are communicating with devices such as process instruments, programmable logic controllers (PLCs), smart sensors, or single-loop controllers, LabVIEW offers a variety of reliable and easy-to-use tools to help you meet any of your communication needs. LabVIEW supports OLE for Process Control (OPC) for information exchange among disparate automation devices. LabVIEW includes compatibility with OPC Data Access 3.0, a recent addition to the OPC specification that increases performance and reliability for accessing real-time data from process control hardware and software. With the Modbus library for National Instruments LabVIEW, or the built in Modbus I/O server in the DSC module you can use any Ethernet or serial port as a Modbus TCP or Modbus serial master or slave. Using the Modbus I/O server with communication gateways, you can easily incorporate existing equipment on any industrial network to your LabVIEW application. Communication gateways support a variety of networks including DeviceNet, ControlNet, EthernetIP, PROFIBUS, and PROFINET among others.

See Also:
Network Communication with LabVIEW

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7. Reason 6: LabVIEW for Developing Graphical User Interfaces


LabVIEW makes it easy to create human-machine interface (HMI) applications for remote monitoring and control. LabVIEW provides hundreds of objects for developing a professional user interface: graphs, charts, knobs, dials, thermometers, and more. Simply drag and drop the objects from the controls palette and then use interactive property pages to customize their behavior and appearance. You can deploy your user interface applications on PCs, touch panels, panel PCs, and even web browsers. LabVIEW allows multiple clients to simultaneously control a web published application or VI and also gives you a wide selection of choices to present your data. With the 3D Picture Control in LabVIEW, it is now easy to create, import and control 3D graphics for realistic presentation of real world objects.

The new LabVIEW Touch Panel Module, along with new shared variable capabilities for communicating with handheld devices, makes it possible for automation engineers to quickly add Windows CE-based HMIs to their measurement and control systems. With the shared variable, you can easily display values from their real-time controller code directly on custom operator interfaces often used in embedded machine control and monitoring systems, further simplifying the development of handheld systems for field monitoring applications.


Figure 4: User Interface Development with LabVIEW

See Also:
Graphical User Interfaces with LabVIEW

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8. Reason 7: LabVIEW for Alarming, Logging, Scaling and Reporting


You can graphically add alarming, scaling, and logging capabilities to your application in LabVIEW. You can enable alarms to warn if the temperature goes too high, to log data or events that caused the fault condition, and to scale values to real-world units for effective reporting. You also can programmatically dial phone numbers or send SMS messages directly from your PDA if a fault condition is detected. For high-channel-count systems, the LabVIEW DSC module adds programmatic channel configuration tools to help developers dynamically define and log data.  With the improved Multiple Variable Editor, you can create and bind thousands of shared variables within minutes.  With spreadsheet-like features you can sort and search variables based on their properties, and you also can collapse and expand different columns reducing the time spent in working with the shared variables. 

With the LabVIEW Report Generation Toolkit for Microsoft Office, you can create and edit reports in Microsoft Word and Excel formats from LabVIEW. Whether you need to generate reports summarizing manufacturing test results or compile process statistics to improve your production yields, the LabVIEW Report Generation Toolkit speeds development of customized, professional reports. You can create custom reports in even less time using the new Microsoft Office Report Express VI.

See Also:
LabVIEW Datalogging and Supervisory Control

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9. Reason 8: LabVIEW for Enterprise and Database Connectivity


Companies such as Dell and Toyota ensure that parts and materials arrive at the production line only when needed. To implement such technology, you need tight integration between the systems that manage inventory and the machines that manufacture the final product on the production floor. Being able to communicate with databases like Oracle via structured query language (SQL) becomes an important requirement for machines. Modern systems use eXtensible Markup Language (XML) for machine-to-enterprise communication. Machines also need to be able to react quickly to any deviation from normal operation – whether this means sending e-mail or SMS messages to key personnel when faults are detected or being remotely controlled via a Web browser or a PDA in case corrective action is needed.

Machine-enterprise connectivity can be implemented leveraging open standards such as OPC, ActiveX and .NET using text based tools such as C# or Java or graphically using LabVIEW. The class browser in LabVIEW allows you to select available object libraries, such as ActiveX and .NET, and to view classes, properties, and methods within the selected object library. LabVIEW toolkits for database connectivity, and Internet connectivity help you connect to popular databases such as Oracle, Microsoft Access, Microsoft SQL Server, Dbase, and more.

See Also:
Database Connectivity with LabVIEW

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10. Reason 9: LabVIEW for Advanced Algorithms and Custom Motion Control


With LabVIEW, engineers can develop control systems spanning from simple PID control to advanced dynamic control systems, which helps them choose the appropriate hardware and control methodology without changing their software development approaches. LabVIEW block diagram approach to programming enables scientists and engineers naturally design parallel programs.  The LabVIEW compiler automatically breaks up these parallel programs into multiple processing cores.  Therefore, the scientist and engineer can focus on their solution without getting bogged down in the details of multithreaded programming, yet still gain a performance advantage from the latest PC technology.

If engineers have already designed their algorithms in other software, with the Simulation Interface Toolkit 3.0, they can integrate models they developed in the The MathWorks, Inc Simulink® environment into LabVIEW for real-time control prototyping and hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) applications. And, with the External Model Interface in LabVIEW, you can use the values from third-party plant models in the LabVIEW Simulation Module. You can use LabVIEW to take advanced control algorithms and target them not only to LabVIEW Real-Time targets such as PCs, PXI and CompactRIO, but also directly to custom board designs based on 32-bit microprocessors using the LabVIEW Microprocessor SDK.

Using NI SoftMotion technology in LabVIEW, engineers can also create customized motion controllers for better performance and flexibility. You can deploy a variety of motion control functions such as trajectory generation and custom algorithms to any hardware platform based on your specific application requirements and price and performance needs.

See Also:
Custom Motion Control with LabVIEW

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11. Reason 10: LabVIEW for Fast Throughput and Reliability with FPGA-based Control


Engineers can use LabVIEW FPGA to create custom measurements and control algorithms. This capability enables engineers to incorporate extremely time-critical functions to hardware such as limit and proximity sensor detection and machine health monitoring. Because the control code runs directly in silicon, it is possible for engineers to quickly create applications that incorporate custom communication protocols or high speed control loops: up to 1 MHz digital control loops and 200 kHz analog control loops.

LabVIEW streamlines the prototyping and deployment of control systems in industrial computers, FPGAs or custom designs – all using the same LabVIEW graphical programming approach. The new LabVIEW FPGA Wizard automatically generates FPGA I/O and timing code to embed control logic directly into FPGA hardware for high performance and reliability. With the LabVIEW FPGA Wizard, engineers have a simple approach to harness the latest FPGA technology, which means they can focus more on their control system logic. The new LabVIEW FPGA Wizard automatically generates I/O and timing code for developing custom measurement applications.


Figure 5: LabVIEW FPGA Wizard

Conclusion

For over 20 years, National Instruments LabVIEW has revolutionized the way engineers take measurements and use this information to improve product quality, get to market faster, and gain greater engineering and manufacturing efficiency. You can implement a powerful real-time performance monitoring and control system using graphical programming with LabVIEW. With more than 600 analysis functions in LabVIEW, breadth of I/O for high-speed monitoring, and connectivity to enterprise level systems, LabVIEW is well suited to complement your PLC system for plant automation.

See Also:
LabVIEW FPGA Design


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