Ωpera
Ωpera

Ωpera

Ωpera (pronounced opera) is Koidra’s operators-driven automation platform. It democratizes industrial automation by enabling the production operators and managers to be in control of their automation strategies.

Why It Matters

1️⃣ Operators-driven. Farms, power plants, factories, and buildings (so-called plants for short) operate much the same way as they have for decades — following static hard-coded instructions. The automation logic is mostly implemented by automation engineers, and typically at the time of project development. Once operational, the automation logic frequently stays fixed and operators are hired to run the plants. Operators are followers, not leaders of automation.

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However, automation is an operation problem and operators are the domain experts at the process flow and how to optimize it. They understand better than most what need to be automated and how to improve the control strategies.

The operators-followed automation model has been around since the dawn of automation and is still prevalent today. It was the right model in the past because programming on traditional PLCs is a highly technical skill. However, modern software/hardware technologies, including but not limited to low-code development, now enable less technical users to easily program and evolve their automatable tasks.

A typical control room setup. Controllers frequently have to follow the screens and manually change setpoints.
A typical control room setup. Controllers frequently have to follow the screens and manually change setpoints.

2️⃣ Continuous improvement. As traditional automation model doesn’t enable operators to improve and evolve the control strategies, the continuous improvement culture (aka. kaizen) is hard to practiced and realized. This eventually leads to loss of yield, efficiency, and competitiveness.

3️⃣ Transparency. Most manufacturing plants either don’t have automation or have automation logic hard-coded inside black boxes called PLCs (programmable logic controllers). This gives rise to the lack of transparency. Transparency is important because it leads to changes in behavior, enables teamwork, continuous improvement, and hence operational excellence.

Other limitations of traditional automation

4️⃣ Control sophistication. Traditional automation is frequently programmed using low-level ladder logic or equivalent. Such low-level programming logic hinders the programmers’ ability to program sophisticated logic, that may be required in complex control applications (such as greenhouse control, power plant control, chemical plants, thermodynamics, etc.).

For perspective: software engineering and computing in general have evolved rapidly in the last 50 years. Today, no one would program in assembly when developing applications. In contrast, ladder logic and PLC programming have stayed the same.

5️⃣ Time and costs. Due to antiquated programming model of traditional PLCs, the development time and costs to develop the automation solution for a new industrial project are typically very high.

6️⃣ Scalability. Ladder logic and traditional PLCs do not support version control (such as git). As such, automation solutions need to be reprogrammed for each new project. This makes it hard for manufacturing companies to centralize their operational automation and scale their businesses.

How our platform works and changes the game

Ωpera provides a flexible and user-friendly web interface for the controllers to define their control strategies in a simple yet powerful way, as writing Excel formulas. Controllers can easily update and improve their control strategies over time and are no longer constrained by the cluttered graphical user interface (often with many windows, menus, and submenus) in legacy SCADA systems.

Demos

A demo application in the greenhouse
A demo application in the greenhouse
Dryer control at a biomass energy plant
Dryer control at a biomass energy plant