Bridging Diesel Generators and DGMSs or PLCs via CANbus J1939

Integrating a diesel generator with the large variety of diesel generator monitoring systems (DGMSs) or programmable logic controllers (PLCs) is easier said than done. A number of factors need to be considered before SIs set their sights on a gateway that best fit their purposes. These factors are discussed in more detail below:

Diesel Generators CANbus J1939
Diesel Generators with CANbus J1939
1. Setting J1939 PGN Manually

A diesel generator might have a lot of J1939 Parameter Group Number (PGN) commands, which, depending on the diesel generator, the engineer may need to key in manually. This is a time-consuming operation prone to human error. A well-designed gateway should support a command-learning function, allowing it to learn all the J1939 PGN input commands in only a few steps. Even if many J1939-supported devices are deployed on the same CAN bus, the gateway will be able to recognize each J1939-supported device, with its J1939 commands, individually on the same CAN bus. The operational efficiency will be much higher, and the total cost of ownership will be lower.

2. Easy Troubleshooting

Field engineers are often unfamiliar with protocol gateways, which to them are essentially third-party devices. They tend to struggle to connect the gateway to the DGMS/PLC correctly, since they do not know enough about the communications protocols. A built-in traffic monitor function monitors J1939 protocol traffic, permitting users to monitor the status of the connected CAN devices, including error count, packet count, and bus-offline. The traffic monitor function can also be used to troubleshoot CAN-supported devices. Furthermore, the diagnostic tool helps users check CAN device settings and indicates the availability of CAN devices by reading the J1939 network address.

3. A Web Console for Easy Configuration

It is safe to say that most field engineers are knowledgeable about J1939 and know how to set it up, and they may also know enough about DGMSs and PLCs. However, they may not be as familiar with protocol gateways, which are not always easy to set up. The easiest way to set up a gateway is through a web console, making the installation of an additional vendor-provided utility unnecessary. All that is required is a laptop with an Ethernet cable and web browser to log in to the web page of the protocol gateway.

4. A Shrapnel-Type Terminal Block

A shrapnel-type terminal block is preferred over a screw-type terminal block since cables tend to come loose in the latter after a long period of use, often due to vibrations. Furthermore, an extension cable slot for a CAN (Control Area Network) bus is also required to allow CAN devices to connect in a daisy-chain topology. For this reason, a shrapnel-type terminal block with separate inbound and outbound slots is required as it is more suitable for daisy-chain wiring.

5. A Built-In SD Card Design

Many SIs can vouch for just how time-consuming it is to configure all the gateways at a site, since the configuration process usually involves repeating the same configuration method for each gateway. A gateway with a built-in SD card slot can save SIs time and frustration in this regard. After setting up the first gateway, the configuration instructions can be automatically stored on the SD card, which can then be used to complete the configuration of the rest of the gateways. The engineer only needs to insert the SD card and turn on the gateway. All the configurations will be set in the new gateway automatically, freeing up valuable time for engineers.