currently I´m fighting to get data from an incubator. Unfortunetly there is only a analogous interface with an custom protocoll. The vendor has only his own software to store data and to control the incubator. But I can´t place an PC next to each incubator and if the data coulnd´t come into PI. The problem is not only at incubators it is although at other devices (e.g. PH-meters).
For my personall view such vendors live in the "golden 50th" where no central data historian exists - but nowadays it should be state-of-the-art to have open interfaces to all equipment. Well, it must not be implementet by default but optionally it should be avalible. I try to convince the responsible persons who decide what device will be purchased but in most cases a cheaper device is bought. The costs to get the data is much more then the additional price for a device that has connection capabillieties.
But now back to reallity: I have some solutions:
1) UFL helps a lot, but is out of the game if there is a protocoll to implement
2) Implementing the protocoll into an SPS and getting data via OPC.
3) connecting the RS232 via COM Server to an PC and having here Vendor OPC-Server running (in most cases the worst method - equipment vendors are poor software vendors)
So, but what is your experiance? Have you different solutions? Maybe there is a killer-device that transforms all possible protocolls to OPC or somethin similar. ;-)