Manufacturing AUTOMATION

Database testing produces reliable software streamlining operations

July 31, 2009
By Marie Charpentier

For more than a quarter of a century, database software giant Oracle has been providing reliable, secure and integrated technologies managing business systems and information. A partnership with Kepware Technologies, a leader in communications for automation, connects to hundreds of protocols and a wide variety of control equipment enhancing the integration of connectivity from plant floor equipment to Oracle’s manufacturing applications found in the Oracle E-Business Suite, including Oracle Manufacturing Operations Center (OMOC) and Oracle Discrete Manufacturing.

However, before this partnership was finalized, Oracle contracted with a third party, Geometric Ltd., to test environment, scenarios and procedures to deliver unbiased results of the KEPServerEX OPC server as a quality data connector solution.” “

Amit Singh, director of product strategy for the OMOC, comments that “we place a very high degree of importance on rigorous testing and certification to ensure smooth integration and great customer experience.” Therefore, Oracle enlisted Geometric to perform the testing and certification of the integration between OMOC and KEPServerEX.

The KEPServerEX solves the complex problem of connecting fragmented disconnected shop floor data to the business context of the customer’s back office systems. The OMOC, with a data model based on ISA-95 industry standard, applies a pre-built, flexible and extensible adapters to connect the existing infrastructure, manufacturing execution systems (MES) and ERP systems, converting raw shop floor data into meaningful business KPI (key performance indicators) information. A robust contextualization rules engine drives pre-built key performance indicators and analytics, delivered in Oracle’s easy to configure and extendable Business Intelligence (BI) technology. All the components combined deliver real-time monitoring and analysis of shop floor operations that provide a foundation for running Continuous Improvement (CI) programs such as Lean and Six Sigma.


Geometric established a KEPServerEX OPC server testing project in the OMOC Lab in Pune, the eighth largest city in India. This facility mimics a realistic shop-floor systems environment with the complete test setup of the connectivity solutions from Oracle’s shop floor communication provider partners, and PLCs. In this lab, tests for flawless connectivity and integration are conducted, resulting in rejection or endorsement. This process ensures quality in an environment where the ultimate solution relies on a combination of products from different vendors.

Performance Testing
The shop floor communication product was tested in several scenarios; the performance of response time to handle high frequency data, the correct processing of voluminous data and the reliability under heavy load in a high volume real-time production environment. Testing at a very high rate (one to five seconds) the shop-floor devices continuously generated data to insert into the OMOC device table. Oracle conducted further testing under high data intensity and volume, double checking for accurate recording, contextualizing and processing the data thus ensuring performance of their OMOC.” “

Not only was data produced at high frequency and volumes straining the systems to optimum capacity, the test scenario included performance monitoring tests. Different data acquisition frequencies and number of tags were utilized.

During the entire test, procedures included accounting for various time factors of the different situations.” Intervals were examined in correspondence to;

1.”” “Changes to data on the shop floor communication device
2.”” “KEPServer reading data
3.”” “Data pushed into the OMOC

Multiple time intervals were selected for various performance tests. A MicroLogix 1100 PLC was programmed to produce data for 15 tags configured in
KEPServer. The PLC was switched on first, and after stabilization, the KEPServer effectively transferred data into the OMOC.

The KEPServer server performed successfully in writing data at high frequency to the OMOC with consistency in response, accuracy and stability. Exceeding actual shop floor conditions where typical frequency for data written is expected to be much lower.

“Geometric has gone beyond the general test scenarios to make sure that our customers can be fully confident about being able to connect to shop floor equipment and devices using Oracle Manufacturing Operations Center and partner solutions such as Kepware,” Singh says. “We are grateful to our partner Kepware Technologies for working with Geometric and helping them build the entire infrastructure for the test laboratory. On their part, Geometric has displayed an amazing understanding of the manufacturing operations space and appreciation for real world customer issues. This case study is a Geometric document but we agree with and fully support their findings.”

Roy Kok, vice-president of sales and marketing for Kepware, further comments on the testing process as “Kepware has worked closely with Geometric to ensure they have a full understanding of our product capabilities, to support this evaluation, and to support Kepware partners requiring solution assistance.”

This testing encouraged Oracle to enlist Kepware Technologies as a key partner to gather real-time streaming data from plant equipment and control systems. Now Kepware ships an OMOC’s Connectivity Suite that can be configured to collect specific device tags in real-time and transfer them to the Center, which then contextualizes and aggregates the data into role based dashboards with specific KPIs including OEE.

The end results for businesses are tools to maximize plant asset performance with a simplified solution to connect hundreds of protocols and a wide variety of control equipment.

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