PCA Control

Process Control & Automation (PCA) Control is a real-time control development tool and execution engine that supports a wide range of industrial operations, manufacturing processes, and business workflows in any environment – continuous, discrete, or batch. With its visual control strategy editor, associated control and business logic editors, and real-time control engine, PCA Control has everything required to develop a comprehensive control or operation strategy. As an integral part of the PCA suite, PCA Control provides an open and adaptable architecture for real-time connectivity with a wide variety of I/O to ensure an exact fit to your requirements. With PCA Control you can:

  1. Create control and business intelligence for each class.
  2. Test and run this intelligence in objects created from the class.
  3. Connect these objects to form a control strategy.
  4. Manage the control strategy.

Function & Features

Object Based Control

The Hint Framework PCA Control was designed with one driving goal: to increase companies productivity. In the process-control or manufacturing environment, control systems often change. Optimizations, changes in materials or processes, retooling, and personnel changes can all impact your control system on a daily basis. Although software tools have made the development of the applications easy, the day-to-day maintenance, which is the majority of an application’s lifecycle, has been ignored.

The problem is not just the software, but the collection of pieces that make up the control system. The legacy of the last thirty years has left incompatible point solutions, like PLCs and HMIs. Any software tool that must live within the limitations of these pieces can only hope to extend the same limited paradigm to its users.

Hint breaks that dependency by building a set of high-level software tools, as well as a rich control infrastructure, to form a complete control solution. This solution is referred to as PCA Control, and it is the heart of Hint. PCA Control allows you to view and maintain your plant as a series of interacting components, each with their own personalities. Each device is a self contained unit of connection points, configuration settings, properties, and control programs in one neat, reusable package which we call an object. You can easily extend these objects to form new and more powerful objects. A control system, then, becomes nothing more than the connection of all these objects to form a control strategy. While this does require you to think about your control system development differently, the end result is an easily maintainable and natural model of your plant. Imagine dragging one device onto your screen, and in turn, creating a substantial part of your control system. Maintaining an PCA Control system entails far less effort than any other control system. Gone are the days of long program listings and uncertain results. Objects may be checked-out, updated/modified, debugged and placed back into the control strategy, even while online, without impacting the rest of the system.



One of the key benefits of PCA Control is WORA (Write-Once-Run-Anywhere), which simply means preserving your control program regardless of what control engine it runs on. This lets you develop your program to run on a PC-based control engine today, a small open-PLC tomorrow, and an intelligent device the next day; all without changing any code. WORA also means that you can move an object from one computer to another while the control is running. These objects can even be run on multiple computers in a redundant configuration.

Hint provides a standard object model that represents real-world devices such as motors, conveyors, and pumps as software components we call objects. The characteristics of a device are contained in the object’s attributes while the device’s behaviors are modeled in the object’s methods. The object is connected to other objects through its attributes to form a control strategy.

An PCA Control Object may be visualized as a polygon containing a number of boxes. The surfaces of the polygon show the different views of the object as may be seen through its attributes. The boxes represent the methods, which determine the control functionality of the object. PCA Control provides the functions needed to create the object control methods. These methods can be independently scheduled to run repetitively (scanned) or to respond to specific changes in the object’s input attributes (event driven). PCA Control also provides the functions to connect the object attributes to form a control strategy.

ControlView: The PCA Control Strategy Editor

The Control Strategy Editor ControlView provides an environment for creating control methods and connecting these to form a control strategy with little to no programming. As the visual part of PCA Control that is used to graphically manage and represent the control strategy, ControlView is visible when the PCA Control tab in the Hint Workbench is selected.

Flexible Control Engine

The control engine runs the small programs (referred to as methods) that are associated with the objects you create. PCA Control provides two classes of control engines: 1) PCA JavaControlRealtime; and 2) PCA JavaControlStandard. The PCA JavaControlRealtime engine runs at real-time priority inside the Hint Framework process to provide the fastest and most responsive possible process control. The engine communicates with real I/O using the OPC connectivity or the Class Server mechanism of the PCA Suite. The PCA JavaControlStandard engine runs at normal system priority in its own process— separate from the Hint Framework  life cycle process. It is used to perform operations other than typical control logic and device I/O— such as, sending data directly to MRP systems, accessing a database, sending electronic mail (e-mail) messages, and so forth, that do not require real time performance.

Flexible Control Editers

PCA Control provides several standard editors to develop your control programs. These include both graphical and text-based editors including: Java Text, Ladder Logic, Sequential Function Chart and Function Block. The editors enable you to perform online diagnostics and debugging, showing real-time values from the OA2control engines. The IEC 61131-3 graphical editors animate their diagrams with real-time information to help you troubleshoot your control programs. 

Function Block Library

PCA Control includes standard tools that allow you to build and maintain a central library of functions and function blocks. These libraries can be used in any of the editors.
PCA Control also includes a library of over 200 pre-built function blocks. You can easily incorporate the function blocks into a method through simple drag-and-drop operations.

Online Editing

PCA Control allows you to edit and save individual methods, while an object is running. In addition, the new control logic is activated in a “bumpless” fashion that preserves the state of the variables, including those in function blocks. This allows you to quickly maintain and update control logic. And, once a change is verified, you can propagate the changes to all running objects in a “bumpless” fashion.

Open, Microsoft Architecture

PCA Control is a Microsoft Windows 2000 based application which allows for high degree of extensibility and scalability, as well as real-time, open connectivity within its architecture.

Web-Enabled Integration and Connectivity

Hint provides web access to all system data and configuration parameters through an integrated XML/SOAP server along with JDBC, ODBC and OLE Automation support.