Back in the mid-90s, a multinational candy company needed to control the chocolate mixing and distribution systems in one of its North American production facilities. After trying a number of Windows-based applications, they were unable to come up with a system capable of providing effective control. So, they split the problem into two parts: The QNX real-time operating system would be used for the more challenging process control application and Windows would be used to display the operator interface. This way, the critical control could be isolated from any problems that occurred in the Windows system. But they still had a problem—how to make the connection?
Cogent’s solution was the first large-scale implementation of Cogent DataHub technology. A DataHub was installed on each QNX computer and corresponding DataHub programs ran on the Windows display computers. This combination provided a central distribution mechanism for all control data, allowing Windows applications to access the QNX control data over a standard network connection.
The end result was an interleaved control system that ran for more than 20 years in that candy factory with only minor modifications when new ingredients were introduced, or plant equipment was reconfigured. The system survived multiple staff turnovers and plant ownership changes, and was finally retired only when both production lines needed to be replaced.