1.8.1   Database Building Tools

Parameters- parameters are "templates" to build tags in the communication database. Parameters have pre-configured addresses, conversion, scaling, output limits, engineering units and other fields that allow engineers and technicians to quickly build tags that can communicate with automation devices.  Calling up the parameter when creating new tags will enter these values into the appropriate fields for that tag, thereby saving keystrokes.

Parameters are also useful in implementing standards in a system. By defining default values in the parameters, multiple users can see the typical address, scaling, engineering units and other “standards” recommended by the project or system engineer.

Parameters also allow naive users to "guess" at the appropriate addressing used to communicate with the automation device. All device drivers come with parameters that have typical addresses for analog and digital data in the specific automation device.

By creating new parameters, you can speed database development and enforce "standards" for other users. By using existing parameters, you can start building your database quickly.

OPC Tool - This is useful for OPC Servers.  It allows you to browse and import tags from the OPC Server. The OPC Tool in WebAccess also allows you to establish "re-naming" convention to simplify the OPC tag names into user-friendly names.  A pre-fix can be added to imported tags to address the situation of identical OPC tagnames used repeatedly in multiple devices.

Blocks - Blocks require planning to implement well, but they can be an extraordinary time saver.  The single-loop controller drivers (for example, Advantech ADAM 5000) have blocks that are ready and easy to use without any advanced planning.

Blocks are a type of tag (our competitors call them super tags). Blocks allow multiple data values from automation devices to be grouped into a single object.  Blocks are most commonly used to represent PID controllers, VAVs and other multiple value "instruments" found in a control and automation systems. For example, the typical elements of a PID block include Measurement, Setpoint, Output, tuning parameters and alarms of the controller.

Blocks allow a large number of tags to be built by specifying a single name, a single address or address offset.  Blocks also enable the use of the Block Detail Display, which is a template type display: a single display that can be used to view all blocks of the same Block Type. 

An example is a large office tower with 200 VAV controllers each with 25 parameters.  A VAV block is configured and used to rapidly implement the communications to these devices. By entering the starting address of each block, all 25 addresses are generated. Further, only a single display (a Block Detail Display) is needed to view all 200 VAVs.  Further, as new VAV controllers are added, no additional display building is needed. This allows technicians to commission new blocks in the field or rename existing blocks, without modifying or building new displays.

Microsoft Access Database - Recommended for very advanced users; you can use Microsoft Access to edit tags.  You can use VBA and other tools to propagate changes through a large database and generate reports. It is not recommended to add tags using Access, because WebAccess uses multiple tables, which must cross-indexed appropriately.  

EXCEL Import / Export  - The tag database can be exported to EXCEL, modified then imported into this project or another project or another node.  This is a convenient way to make the same modification to a large group of tags or to copy all the tags from one SCADA node to another.

SCADA Node Import  - The tag database, graphic displays, scripts, everything about a SCADA node can be imported from another project.  This is a convenient way to copy a project from a laptop used for development, to duplicate a project, to merge projects, or split a node from a project.