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October 2010

PAC has Internal Database

SoftPLC's "Property Tables" make sorting, automated warehouse, and recipe management applications easier and more efficient

All SoftPLC controllers include an embedded Internal Relational Database.  Called "Property Tables", the internal database allows crucial process data to be accessed in one or two high speed program scans, rather than requiring the process to wait for data to come over a communication network from an external source (eg: another computer or controller).

Property Tables open the door to a whole host of cost savings by minimizing the steps and hardware required to store and manage the data, as well as reducing processing time to move data from one location to another. Having the data in the SoftPLC also eliminates the need for an IT department to manage the hardware and software for a separate database.

Controls engineers are finding many applications where this feature provides more cost effective and efficient automation systems:

  • Warehousing applications

  • Sorting and/or shipping applications

  • Machines that build multiple products

  • Processes that use recipes

  • Projects that require setting of variables for configuration of a machine

  • Fast look-ups of control values

  • Managing parameters for user developed ladder instructions

For example, in a warehouse receiving application, a scan of the part's bar code provides the part number to SoftPLC.  The part number is the key value of a property table.  The property file holds the location of the part (eg: aisle, shelf and bin numbers).   A similar lookup can be performed on zipcode to obtain City and State for automatic printing of a shipping label, or for high-speed mail sorting by regional/district centers to obtain maximum discounts.

There are ladder instructions in SoftPLC that operate on property files, such as retrieving a record based on the key and loading the data into data table so that the SoftPLC's logic can use it to affect the machine/process control.

SoftPLC is the only industrial controller which offers this powerful and useful capability, and since all SoftPLC's have at least 64MB user memory, capacity is not an issue. Properties are partitioned into separate tables, called property files. You can have up to 1000 property files, each with thousands of properties!

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SoftPLC Helps Provide a Healthy Diet

scaleApplication Story - Property Tables in Action

Clients who want to lose/manage their weight subscribe to this company's managed menu plan, weekly ordering their choice of meals via the internet.  Orders are stored in a SQL database.

At the beginning of each production shift, SoftPLC downloads the new orders and customer information from the database into Property Tables.

Automated Warehouse

SoftPLC then runs the warehouse's automated "pick, pack, print" system which uses bar codes in the Property Table entries to load boxes with the proper items, seal the box, print the shipping label and deliver it to the shipping area.  The SQL database is updated with the order status information.

This fully automated system eliminates the need for constant back/forth communication between bar code scanners and the SQL database, allowing the conveyors to run faster and without errors in loading due to communication faults.

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