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DCNET Data Collection Program

Overview

The DCNET program is used to capture factory data over an Ethernet LAN from a network data terminal. It is specifically designed to work in conjunction with the ET200 series of Ethernet data terminals manufactured by ComputerWise, Inc. The DCNET program is a 32-bit Windows based program and is compatible with Win9x or WinNT. The DCNET program establishes a network connection with a data terminal and presents the terminal operator with a logical series of programmable prompts. Operator responses can be validated and captured into records stored in ASCII delimited file(s). The captured data records can then be used by another application for processing. Applications include (but are not limited to):
  • Time & Attendance
  • Work-in-progress (WIP) tracking
  • Access control
  • General factory floor data collection
Theory of Operation
The DCNET program attempts to establish a network connection with a single data terminal at a specific IP address and port number which are defined in an initialization file. Multiple data collection terminals can be used by starting multiple instances of the DCNET program each with a unique initialization file.

The prompting sequence and data capture is controlled by a configuration file. This file contains all of the prompting logic, operating parameters, data validation and data storage information for program execution. The name and location of the configuration file is defined in the initialization file mentioned above. Multiple instances of the DCNET program can use the same configuration file or a different file.

When an instance of the DCNET program is started it will read the initialization and configuration file. It will then attempt to establish a network connection with the specified terminal and if successful will present the first prompt to the terminal operator.

Once the terminal operator enters a response it can be validated by input parameters and/or by a validation file entry. If the response passes all validation tests the next logical prompt is presented to the operator. Valid responses can trigger a special operation such as activation of the bell or a relay. If the response fails any of the specified validation test an error prompt can be presented to the operator.

Valid terminal operator responses can be included as a data field in a captured data record. The response data field associated with each prompt can trigger the beginning of a new data record and/or saving of the data record to the data capture file. Each captured data record can include one or more response data fields and optionally a "time stamp" and/or "date stamp". Captured data records are stored in an ASCII delimited data file defined by the associated prompt.

In addition to capturing operator response data the DCNET program can trigger alarm events which are typically used to activate the bell or a control relay. Alarms can be used to signal the beginning/ending of a work period or to start/stop a control process.

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