The MICROSYS company was founded in 1991 by a group of former employees of the company Office Machines. The newly established entity was thus able to benefit from the professional and practical experience of employees engaged in the development, design and deployment of systems in the field of industrial automation. The main goal of the company from the beginning was to create a universal software tool for creating monitoring and control systems. Such software was not practically available on the Czech market in the 1990s.
The MICROSYS company has been developing and supplying the PROMOTIC SCADA system since then (now for more than 30 years). It is a versatile software that is used to create applications for monitoring and controlling various types of technological processes, from iron production, energy and heat management, through warehouse management, to applications such as aquarium management, laboratory aids or teaching aids for schools.
The beginning of the company 30 years ago
The company was founded by a group of employees who were already working on control and visualization software in the form of graphical modular programming: the M-technology. After the company was founded, this software was called PROMOTIC (PROfessional MOdulary Techological Integrated Control).
The result of two years of development was a unique software system that graphically allowed the user to create both supervisory screens and control algorithms (insert screenshot from TURBO M). In addition, it was possible to generate executable code for different hardware platforms: not only for "classic" PCs, then computers with a 386 or 486(!) CPU and with MS DOS operating system, but also for hardware control systems (Siemens Simicro, DIX, MicroSAPI, etc.) that handled analog/binary signals and performed the necessary control algorithms. PLCs were then only at the beginning of their development.
At this time it was not at all clear whether PC-type computers were suitable for technological applications in factories, and there were also many opponents of graphical displays (they argued that they only wanted to see text data and graphics were a distraction). Despite the fact that PROMOTIC was basically the first such software developed on the Czecho-Slovak territory, it was immediately very positively received and we saw that we were going in the right direction.
The existence of a software system that allowed the creation of monitoring and control systems in a very user-friendly way - in addition to different hardware platforms - was unique at the time and the system was in great demand. Companies that used this system were quite "reluctant" to switch to Windows systems in later years.
The advent of Windows OS
In 1995, the Windows95 explosion began and the situation started to change dramatically. For the first time in a long time an operating system with a graphical interface and universal software application interfaces was available to users. Again, however, there were objections that visualization and process control applications could not be running on this system in the long term.
Nevertheless, we decided to convert the PROMOTIC system for Windows. In retrospect it seems like an obvious decision, but at that time the dominance of Windows was not obvious and it was known that this operating system was not very stable. After two years of development, we finally converted the PROMOTIC system for Windows with a great risk. At the same time we changed the development concept and switched from modular programming to object oriented application development. This change was perhaps the riskiest action for the company and if it had not worked out, there would have been nothing more to write about.
Already at the launch of the first version of PROMOTIC for Windows at the Amper 1997 trade fair, it turned out that the interest in this system is huge. Despite the instability of the Windows operating system, the resulting applications were very reliable. With hindsight, we can say that the following year 1998 was one of the most successful in the history of the company in terms of acquired new customers.
The transition to object-based application development proved to be the best possible way and the development of the application became extremely simplified and generalized at the same time. Suddenly we had a tool in our hands that we could continue to "maintain" - i.e. add more components without the need for major interventions in the system concept itself. It is unbelievable, but the basic concept of the PROMOTIC system under Windows has remained basically unchanged until today.
The right decisions are more important than hundreds of hours of hard work
Over the next few years, after very deliberate discussions and consultations with other companies and universities, we made several other important decisions that have made our development immeasurably easier.
We started to process the configuration of the PROMOTIC system using XML data. We started it at the time when the XML format was not well known and widespread. Using this format we started to create not only system documentation, but also communication between applications, images (the so-called SVG format) and much more. Then the XML format became the world standard. So the right initial decision saved us a huge amount of work.
Another important decision was to develop PROMOTIC also as a WEB server with automatic generation of pure HTML code without additional plugins like FlashPlayer, Silverlight and others. Now, when new technologies like HTML5, Cloud applications etc. are coming, our work is bearing its fruits.
Is it possible to offer SCADA software for free?
Another interesting decision the MICROSYS company made in 2009: we made it possible to create small SCADA applications completely free of charge. PROMOTIC system users can now deploy freeware applications even in places where this would not have been possible before for financial reasons. These are e.g. the creation of auxiliary software tools in factories, demonstration and testing tools for hardware suppliers, control and monitoring software at home, etc. We are finding that there are now more and more customers who have realised that deployment of SCADA software is possible even in places where a few years ago no one would have looked for it at all.
Develop software or build apps?
From the very beginning, there was a lot of discussion in the company about what package of services the company should actually offer its customers. The main work of the company has always been the development of the PROMOTIC system. However, this was gradually joined by activities such as automation hardware supply, turnkey application development, consulting activities, etc. However, over time it turned out that it is not good to dilute the activities and it is better to deal only with what we feel really strong in - and that is software development. Therefore, we limited our activities and decided to focus only on two key ones - PROMOTIC system development and turnkey application development.
The two activities have now been in symbiosis for years: the PROMOTIC development staff can help the application designers with complex problems, and in turn the application designers provide the system developers with many suggestions for further development.
One of the key aspects that underpins the functioning of our company is a stable work team. Over the years, the company has developed a team of employees who "pull" together and each of them is an integral and necessary part of the team. We have managed to assemble a team of professionals for whom work is not only a duty, but also an interesting creative activity - whether they are software developers or application implementers. Among other things, the return of some of our employees back to our company after working experience abroad is proof of the superior relations within the MICROSYS company.
Company's future and main goals
The main activity of the MICROSYS company is and will continue to be focused on the development of PROMOTIC visualization and control software with emphasis on its maximum openness and technical maturity. One of the most important goals for the future is the commercial promotion of the PROMOTIC SCADA system on new markets abroad. We firmly believe that its quality will be appreciated by users in other countries, not only in Europe, but also in more distant parts of our rapidly changing world.
Of course, we also strive to improve the quality and availability of other services for our customers, such as technical support, consulting, training, etc. Our aim is to build an image of a reliable, helpful and technically advanced partner for solving problems in various segments of industrial automation.
The fact that we have managed to succeed in this highly competitive environment and continuously consolidate the position of the PROMOTIC SCADA system for such a long time is proof that we do our work with interest and commitment and we would like to sustain this in the future.