BLENDING: SQL Server Link Allows Automatic Gathering of Blender Material-Use Data

Well-written query can mine that data for information that can help processors run their plant more efficiently and profitably.

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Conair is harnessing the power of Microsoft SQL Server, the same relational database management system widely used in general business applications, to help plastics processors track how much resin, regrind, color and additives they are using.

Conair gravimetric blender products—including TrueBlend batch blenders, TrueWeigh continuous blenders and TrueWeigh extrusion controls—have always had extensive data-gathering capabilities. Now, however, there is an easy, automatic way to store it in a central database and generate company-wide reports on:

•           Shift inventory report

•           Total inventory report

•           Recipe report

•           Resin report

•           Job/order report

•           Product line report

•           Alarm log report

•           Batch log report

In the new SQL-Server-based system, all data generated by all blenders goes into the same database, Conair explains, so that a well-written query can mine that data for information that can help processors run their plant more efficiently and profitably.

The Conair blender reporting capabilities can also be used with SAP Sybase SQL Anywhere.

Each TrueBlend SB2 touch-panel control (Version 1.08.0 and newer) has the ability to communicate directly with a computer hard drive using SQL Server software and a standard Ethernet TCP network.  When the control is first connected with the new database in the SQL Server, it will automatically create all of the data tables and data relationships required. Then, as the blender operates, it will periodically add data to the tables in the database. How often the data is written to the server is programmable depending on user requirements. Once set up, the system operates automatically, continually adding to the data base.

To make use of the data, users can implement Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services and write a “query” that generates the desired report. A query might look for information on something as general as how much polyethylene has been used plant-wide in the past three months. Or, a query could seek very specific data such as how much colorant was processed in Molding Cell Number 5 during second shift last Monday. Companies with experienced SQL users may choose to write their own queries, or Conair provides standard query templates in system documentation, which then can be installed into SQL Server Reporting Services.

Processors who want to take advantage of the SQL Server reporting capabilities built into their Conair blenders receive a pass code to unlock the data-export port on each blender. An Installation Guide leads the user through the installation of SQL Server software if it is not already installed within the organization. Microsoft SQL Server Express software is a free download. A Conair User’s Manual explains step-by-step how data tables are created and how to use a standard Internet browser to use pre-installed report templates.