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FlowconBackground. PC-Based-archives

Development of PC-based control -- 1985

Member of Fortune 500

Until 1981, Flowcon was owned by Berwind Instruments, to give an otherwise drab corporate report on rail car manufacturing a high tech look.

The inability to  stamp out custom systems like cookies eventually "lost its luster" so they sold off Flowcon to its current ownership.

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The Idea for a PC Based System  - Radio Shack

In the early '80s, Radio Shack asked Flowcon if we could control their new Conveyor System in Ft. Worth, TX using their computers. We agreed, and from that experience, we initiated PC-based batch control systems to replace our dedicated "model 2200" systems.

Standardized Processing

The challenge was to use the PC to do things it was not normally suited to do.

Real Time Control: we solved this by creating our own execution kernel that switches tasks on a timed interrupt.
Communicate with relays and serial devices.
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Flowcon Interface Board

Contains the event clock,
a fast parallel port to the relay and analog interface,
and serial outputs and inputs for reading scales, and driving displays.

Standard Peripherals

Left:  NEMA rated relay enclosure.
Top right box is the auto-manual switches.
Bottom right: scale display, which displays   a weight value, and transmits to the batcher.
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A Simple Relay Assembly

The NEMA  enclosure can house between one and 24 racks of 32 relays each.
They can be a mix of AC or DC,  fast or slow, and digital or analog.


The enclosure provides a wireway, barrier strips for attaching wires, removable brain board, fused relays, and optically isolated signals.
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The First PC Batcher was in 1985

By upgrading the computer and the software, a system can be upgraded to support every feature of the newest systems.
In practical terms, it is as long lived as the present generation of PC's.

A Five Scale Application

All scales weigh simultanously and can be sized differently, for optimal accuracy and speed
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Manual Panel

Every output is controllable from the keyboard with a single keystroke.
Every input status is displayed.

The Original PC Batch System.

It was able to generate 3 different sets of reports on three different printers.
All printers can print simultaneously.
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Micro Machine Interface

The Flowcon relays (lower right) drive multi-speed controllers for variable auger rates, allowing for rapid delivery and accurate endpoints.
Some ingredients are reliably weighed to 0.001# accuracy.

Custom Processes

Typical of a feed-mill, this computer directed hand-add station prompts and verifys every operator addition. 
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Custom Interface

This custom interface station, allows the truck driver to control the system from the cab.
The display is protected from dust, and the keyboard uses membrane technology for dust-proof operation.