Device SDK not supported by LabVIEW? No problem!

Tata Steel was looking to optimize its production process for sheet metal by incorporating a thermal monitoring system. The system should monitor the temperature inside the tunnel furnace, where the sheet metal is heated to 600-800 degree Celsius, to ensure even heating. To achieve this, the steel manufacturer decided to use a thermal camera that is provided with a .NET SDK. However, the integration of the SDK with LabVIEW, which Tata Steel uses to control the galvanizing process, has been a challenge due to dependencies on .NET 6 assemblies that are not supported by LabVIEW.

The camera API was written in .NET Standard 2.0, and there were dependencies on .NET 6 assemblies, which were not supported by LabVIEW. Because of this the LabVIEW software could not find the assemblies that were being used by the SDK. This has led to difficulties in reading the connected devices from the SDK, camera settings, and getting the connection status event, as well as retrieving the new frame event with image data.

A C# .NET console application was created, using the .NET SDK to handle the thermal imaging process. The application was then wrapped with LabVIEW, which will control the entire process. A watchdog class was created, which keeps the .NET application alive within LabVIEW. The class periodically checks for the existence of the console application, and if it is not running, the watchdog class will start the application automatically. This ensures that the thermal monitoring process is not disrupted, even if there are any issues with the .NET application.

The communication between LabVIEW and the .NET application is facilitated through ZeroMQ. LabVIEW will send commands to the console application, which will execute the appropriate function calls to the LAND Camera API. The console application will then send the results back to LabVIEW, allowing Tata Steel to monitor the thermal imaging process.

The integration of a thermal monitoring camera in the steel manufacturing process has helped Tata Steel optimize its production process for sheet metal. Despite the difficulties in integrating the .NET SDK with LabVIEW, the use of a watchdog class and ZeroMQ has ensured the seamless operation of the thermal monitoring process. Tata Steel can now monitor the temperature inside the tunnel furnace and ensure even heating, leading to improved quality and efficiency in their manufacturing process.

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