Reaction vessel control software

Project Description

The Problem
A global supplier of laboratory equipment had a legacy reaction vessel system that needed to be upgraded. They wanted to develop a Windows based software to allow users to easily specify the methods and control & monitor the progress of the experiments.

The Solution
Windows .NET was chosen as the suitable platform for this application. The software architecture was designed to accommodate both changes to each reaction vessel unit and introduction of a new unit with completely different functionality.

The end users of this equipment are lab technicians and hence the user interface had to be intuitive, easy to use and designed to minimize errors. Only the lab chemist was allowed to specify and create different methods. The method definition was done by graphically dragging and dropping the various kinds of operations that the units supported. The tests were conducted in batches. The methods and details of each run were stored in MySQL database, to enable tracking of the various experiments.

The software interfaced to the hardware through a serial protocol over a USB link. The multiplexed serial commands timed and sequenced the various operations of all the units in the equipment. The user interface helped the technician monitor the progress, pause or abort a particular method for a specific unit. The coding was done on C# and tested using NUnit.

The software was delivered on schedule. The brand new Windows application with the upgraded equipment was well accepted by lab users.

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