Modern Business Need Data Across the Organisation

Web interfaces to engineering software applications is a key requirement of modern applications. Control, test and monitoring applications that perform specific tasks in an engineering business, used to focus on that task and store their data locally. The primary user of the application would benefit from the tasks performed and the data acquired.  However, other stakeholders in the business would find it difficult to access this information.

One of the main benefits of Industry 4.0 is the free availability of manufacturing data throughout an organisation, to aid decision making at all levels. For example, if a production line test machine is capturing product data and collecting machine information. The primary user is the test operator who is using the device. They use the device to validate the quality of products shipped to customers. The data from the device could also be shared with maintenance engineers to perform predictive maintenance and also with production managers, to aid production planning.

To share this machine data effectively throughout the organisation, a way is needed to share the data and display it. The requirement to easily display data across an organisation is one of the drivers for web user interfaces to engineering software. Now with LabVIEW NXG Web Module, it is possible to create user interfaces that can be displayed in web browsers on desktop PCs, tablet, and mobiles. This is a big step forward for LabVIEW developers who want to generate user interfaces for the web.

This blog post will examine our first attempts at creating and deploying web vis onto a remote server.

LabVIEW Web Module

In LabVIEW NXG 2.0 the web module has functions for creating Web Vis that can generate Html files that can be deployed to a web server. There are good tutorials and example projects that ship with LabVIEW NXG that can be used as a starting point.

Data Transfer

There are two methods for transferring data from existing LabVIEW applications to LabVIEW web Vis – Skyline and Web Services. We wanted to utilise the data in an existing process control LabVIEW application. As Skyline is only compatible with LabVIEW 17 and upwards, we decided to use Web Services to share data between our existing application and our web vi. This means that in our web vi we used HTTP methods to get and set methods we published in our web service.

Web Deployments

For this demonstration application, we wanted to host the web service on a remote server so that we could access the data on a website hosted at demo.tascus.co.uk.
LabVIEW web services can run on Windows or Linux servers (so can be hosted on CompactRIO systems). Our demo web service provides access to data acquired on a DAQ card and information in an SQL database, so we host our web service on a Windows server in our office. To provide access to the web service running on our server, we had to complete a number of steps to provide access to it from the internet.

Steps for Hosting a Remote Web Service

  1. Run web service from LabVIEW project on a Linux or Windows PC.
  2. Set a Static IP address for the server on the router.
  3. Do port forwarding on the router to the server IP address on 8001 (dev) and 8080 (deploy).
  4. Add firewall exception for the IP address & port.
  5. Get the public IP address.
  6. Create a DDNS to update the public IP address.
  7. Browse to the HTTP methods using the public IP address or the DDNS name.
  8. Build the web service then access using port 8001/ 8080.

Now the web service is running and is accessible from the internet.

Deploying Web Vis

Now data is being shared and you have created web vis to access and display the data, you are ready to deploy your web vis. We chose to host our web vis on our web server. The steps to do this were to run the build in LabVIEW NXG, which generates the HTML files and then transferred the output files to our hosted web server using FTP. Once this is done, we can now access our web vi’s at www.demo.tascus.co.uk

Summary

To conclude, it’s early days for LabVIEW web vis, but these are our takeaways from this experiment:

  • LabVIEW NXG and Web Vis are a powerful addition to the LabVIEW toolkit.
  • Start experimenting with them now.
  • See where the technology goes.