An industrial production or other operational system is established by connecting apparatus which implements system operations to a digital computer system using an interface system. Machine readable definitions of events, of executable jobs, and of system variables are prepared for computer entry and ultimately for configuration of the system apparatus into an entity having operational characteristics corresponding to the entered definitions.
The definitions of system variables may include definitions of signals which are coupled between the system apparatus and the computer through the interface system, and such signals may be put to system monitoring or control uses or both of these uses in the structured system. Some of the definitions may be computer programs, but most are preferably definitions of the system configuration written out in a language which a systems engineer can understand and use. Generally, definitions may include designators which are names or numbers.
Any definition may refer to an event, a job, or a variable by making reference to the designator that is included in the definition of the event, the job or the variable. Executable job definitions may, by referring to event designators, specify specific events which are to trigger their execution--for example, variable scanning events or variable change-of-state events--or they may specify that they are to be periodically executed at a specified frequency or rate. The definitions are processed individually by an off-line preliminary processor which converts the systems engineer's language into a numeric language intelligible to processing programs within the computer system or to the computer system itself. The definitions are then fed into the computer system.
Automatic programming means within the computer system establish all the necessary linkages between each new definition and previously entered definitions and other operative portions of the computer system so as to implement each definition relative to the system apparatus as soon as the definition is received and so as automatically to establish the desired system operating configuration through the controlled operation of the computer relative to the interfaced system apparatus.
Definitions may be deleted from the computer system at any time and in any order by the automatic programming means without shutting down the system, and the system operating configuration may thus be modified whenever necessary or desirable. Following such deletions, the automatic programming means eliminates linkages which are no longer required and compresses the tables in which such linkages may be stored so as to maximize the storage space which is available for additional new definitions and their associated linkages.