Software Design – The Denca Approach

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Software Development is one of the five core skills offered by Denca. It is one of our “Five Key Service Areas” fitting at the heart of our philosophy:

“Imagination in Automation”.

Software drives every automated system; customised to fit the exacting needs of the client’s plant, controlling every process to ensure it is carried out precisely as planned, efficiently delivering consistent production quality and volume. 

Denca Software is designed and developed with the real world in mind

A Practical Approach

Whether for a brand new development or for an upgrade to an existing system, Denca focuses on understanding customer need and their processes. Through discussions and site visits, we gather information on what the client wants, how you want the new system to operate, and the look and feel you aim to achieve. As a result, we can factor all of these into our software design process.

In many projects, we draw on the extensive experience of the Denca team to offer guidance and advice. By applying best practice, we aim to help to ensure we deliver an effective, practical and efficient solution. In addition, we aim for standardised data structures allowing new and existing systems to integrate and expand seamlessly.

The experience of our software engineers enables us to work with clients through every step of the software development, from the initial design specification through to the final project implementation, testing and commissioning as well as technical support in the weeks, months and even years after project handover. 

Extensive Systems Knowledge

Denca Software Engineers have extensive knowledge of leading industrial process control system languages and hardware that work in conjunction with all major automation platforms such as Siemens, Allen Bradley, Schneider, Mitsubishi etc.

Denca Software Engineers are highly skilled, many of whom have been trained in-house on the Denca Post-Graduate Scheme, endorsing our commitment to innovative software engineering. 

As well as producing structured, highly effective programming solutions for PLC, HMI and SCADA applications, Denca is able to deliver software to integrate separate automated systems such as Business Energy Management Systems (BEMS) or otherwise, enabling customers to take a more integrated approach to seeking efficiencies in their business.

The majority of our Software Engineers have worked with Denca for many years and offer a wealth of practical experience and stability. Furthermore, we recognise that no one person knows everything, that collaboration pays dividends. We encourage cross-fertilisation amongst our software development teams and more widely across the business, Consequently, knowledge of system design, panel building and installation all feed valuable insights into developing effective and usable software. 

System Control

System control is at the heart of our software development and focuses on 3 key areas:

1. PLC

PLCs offer great processor power for applications that involve large amounts of data and high task speeds. Denca’s knowledge of all major PLC platforms available in the UK means that developing a new solution which can effectively integrate with existing systems can be both straightforward and cost-efficient.

2. HMI

An HMI (Human-Machine Interface) provides a link between the operator and the Process. This delivers the ability to control, monitor and manage applications. Experience with all leading and third-party HMI manufacturers allows Denca to work with our customers to create adaptable, user-friendly interfaces that meet their specific requirements. 

3. SCADA

Where systems require the increased capabilities of a SCADA solution, our engineers have proven experience with all major platforms. A properly engineered SCADA solution will provide plant data to allow continual optimisation and process improvements. Using this data can deliver increases in both efficiency and productivity. 

We focus on developing a design to suit the specific needs of a customer’s site. All software is comprehensively tested and optimised in a test/development environment and approved by the client before we implement and commission in the production environment.   

Data Access

As well as system control, data is a vital part of the software output. We consider data output in 3 ways:

  • Real-Time – monitoring performance against norms.
  • Historic – Archive analysis allows for maintenance and investigation as well as being the basis for future upgrades.
  • Exceptions – Focussing on anything that falls outside acceptable parameters – quickly identify and address system performance issues.

Future-proofing and Data Security

Good software is almost invisible. It just works. As well as being a benefit, this is also a risk. Clearly, while the software is working, everything is fine, but things change. Processes change, plans change leading to the need for adaptions or updates to existing software. 

Hence, to address this evolution, Denca’s approach to software development includes 3 wider considerations:

Documentation

In parallel with producing effective software design, comprehensive documentation of that software (and where required, of the design) is a vital element of every project. The documentation details the functions of software routines. 

Many clients have effective document maintenance procedures in place. Having accurate and up to date system documentation at the start of a project is a great benefit when we are aiming to integrate new systems with legacy software.

With other clients, there can be little or no prior documentation of existing systems, or documentation hasn’t been updated as systems have evolved. As a result, in these cases, we offer a service to investigate and create documentation based on our findings.

In all cases, where appropriate, Denca offers a comprehensive document maintenance service. Through this service, we keep your system documentation updated and current both now and into the future. 

Future Proofing

We recognise that processes evolve and that software will need to evolve too. Therefore, as we design systems, we aim to future-proof our design, where required and appropriate. 

Systems Security

No software system is 100% reliable. We always consider security and build reliability and fail-safe into systems where appropriate. Nevertheless, having a robust and effective backup policy is a key element of security for any software system.  

Software design rests at the heart of Denca. Therefore, we have the knowledge, expertise and experience to deliver the right solution for your needs. To find out more, please contact us  

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