Research project on Open Source Applications


Thread Starter

Aaron C

Hello, I am doing a research project on open source applications currently available. So far has been a great resource for me in gathering information. My problem is that I need to find examples of practical applications and software in use in industrial settings.

Does anybody have any ideas or direction to help with this? I am really having a hard time tracking down anything that is actually in use. I have a list of all the open source software I could find. This includes open source SCADA, programming tools for PLC and DCS, control monitoring, etc. but I really can't seem to find anything that has actually been implemented. Thanks for your help, it is greatly appreciated.

The big problem you are going to have with this is that while a typical open source project has a good idea of how many times their software has been downloaded, they rarely hear back from anyone except when there is a problem. That is true for most open source software by the way, not just industrial software.

You are also going to have another problem in that some projects are being maintained by people who are using them to service direct clients of their own. They are often not all that anxious to hand out their client lists.

My own project "" may be one that you looked at. The sort of people who contact me are usually consultants or integrators who are quoting or building a project for a customer, rather than end users. They don't normally mention *who* their customers are, although I may get an idea of what they do when we are talking about the application. In these cases the end customer is probably never aware (and doesn't care) that I even exist.

However, what I can tell you is:

1) Water and waste water systems.
2) Production cell monitoring.
3) Building automation.

There have also been a couple of "student projects" by university engineering students.

The typical user has so far been a consultant or integrator who appears to be very knowledgeable about computer systems. They are also more commonly from a non-English speaking country than from an English speaking country. If that latter point is typical of other projects it might affect your survey results depending on where you make your inquiries. I am currently working on features to make creating applications easier, so the user profile could change in future.

Interest in the project seems to be due to a combination of factors, rather than any one single thing. Cost is typically one factor, but they usually also want some feature that they can't get anywhere else. Often, it's the ability to integrate it better into the overall project than equivalent proprietary systems. In some cases there is really nothing else like it available anywhere else (that I am aware of). The consultants/integrators are typically combining the software with other software or with software and hardware and then presenting the finished combination as something of their own. That is exactly how my own project is intended to be used, so I don't know if that observation can be applied elsewhere.

For other projects, you might want to look at the web site for Beremiz. They have a link to a company who will soon be shipping a hardware/software combination based on Beremiz and MAT.

I believe the fellow behind PVBrowser has mentioned that his software is used in equipment intended for steel manufacturing. You would probably need to contact him for more details.

On top of all this, you have to consider the custom web applications that get built all the time to support production reporting. These will usually be Apache/PHP/MySQL because that is more or less the standard way of whipping up a quick web site these days.

Add to this custom PC applications for things like automated test systems. Some of these will be with open source languages such as Python, and a great many will use open source libraries, or a database like SQLite.

curt wuollet

One reason might be that the stuff in use so far, is mostly one-off projects to solve a particular problem. For example, I had a sorting conveyor front end, code integrating a camera, air chuck, robot and 2 CNC lathes. A camera app for a pick and place robot and several automated testers all running on Linux in the same factory. They could be licensed as Open Source, but as they were very particular and unique applications, they really weren't good candidates. There really aren't too many general class apps in automation except for programming tools, HMIs, and Scada. All of those are being worked on. I am certain there has been some uptake, but, except for fora like this, most automation types labor in isolation. And there's no particular reason to tell the world how you did things.