Connecting Windows to non-Windows in Your Control System

Posted by Win Worrall on Jul 26, 2016 10:37:59 AM

This is Part 10 of our “25 Things to Consider when Choosing an OPC Tunneler” series.  Are there ways to connect a Windows system to a non-Windows system with the Tunnel solution?

Since OPC was designed around DCOM, a Windows only technology, you simply do not find OPC Data Access Servers that are supported in a non-Windows environment.  Nonetheless, it's not unusual for control systems to have both Windows and non-Windows machines that need to share information.

This blog post will discuss how it can be possible to link Windows and non-Windows systems in your control systems.

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Topics: Device Integration, Tunneling, non-Windows, Linux, QNX, Windows

Minimize Downtime with TOP Server Troubleshooting Tools

Posted by Lauren Conrad on Jul 19, 2016 12:33:10 PM

In this blog, we will cover the built-in startup and testing features included in the TOP Server including a video link to see these tools in action.

These tools include a sample OPC client that can help with quickly testing connectivity to your devices, as well as device-to-server level and server-to-client level communication diagnostics. The user interface displays important informational messages, as well as communication warnings and errors. Also available is extensive and easy to navigate help documentation.

We’ll briefly discuss each of these tools and take a look at a video which walks us through the use of each of these tools and points us to further troubleshooting resources at Software Toolbox.

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Topics: Wonderware, Technical Support

How Redundancy Can Define Success or Failure in a Control System

Posted by Win Worrall on Jul 12, 2016 2:01:29 PM

This is Part 9 of our “25 Things to Consider when Choosing an OPC Tunneler” series.  Will a tunneler support redundant tunnel paths?

Redundancy is typically a more complex topic than it might sound especially if your automation control architecture is extensive and has multiple layers.  Redundancy has different meanings to different people for different applications.

This blog post will outline reasons why it's important for an OPC tunneling solution to support redundant paths for applications where it is essential minimize the risks of failure when transferring your control data and what questions to ask.

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Topics: Device Integration, OPC Tunnel, DCOM, Tunneling, Redundancy

Accessing Wonderware System Platform via OPC UA

Posted by Kevin Rutherford on Jun 23, 2016 12:00:00 PM

Have you ever been in a situation where you were working with both Wonderware and some other client (HMI, SCADA, other) and needed to share data?  Perhaps your company acquired another company or assets and a non-Wonderware HMI/SCADA came as part of the assets.  Or perhaps your company merged with another and now your Wonderware system is expected to play nicely with some other system.  Your options for sharing data largely depend on what software interfaces this "other system" supports.

In this blog post, I'll discuss how to share your Wonderware ArchestrA or InTouch data via OPC UA for situations where you're working with an OPC UA capable client application that needs access to process data in your Wonderware system.

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Topics: Wonderware, OPC UA

Reasons a Configurable TCP Port is Important for OPC Tunneling

Posted by Win Worrall on Jun 21, 2016 11:30:00 AM

This is Part 8 of our “25 Things to Consider when Choosing an OPC Tunneler” series.  What flexibility is there in how ports are configured?

Depending on your level of knowledge regarding OPC tunneling solutions, you may or may not be aware of how a tunneler uses TCP ports for transferring data between machines.  Your IT department likely gives you plenty of trouble whenever you mention needing to open a TCP port.  And with good reason - cyber attacks frequently exploit commonly used TCP ports.

This blog post will outline three top reasons why it's important for an OPC tunneling solution to support fully configurable TCP ports for transferring your data.

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Topics: Device Integration, OPC Tunnel, DCOM, Tunneling

Reasons why DCOM across Windows versions is a nightmare

Posted by Win Worrall on Jun 7, 2016 4:19:49 PM

This is Part 7 of our “25 Things to Consider when Choosing an OPC Tunneler” series.  How does the OPC tunneling solution work in a mixed Windows OS environment.

If you have ever used DCOM between two different varieties of Windows operating system (Windows 7 and Windows XP, for instance) you already know how painful it can be to configure DCOM.  DCOM configuration is never a walk in the park but the frustration multiplies when the operating system isn't the same on both machines.

This blog post will outline one of the easiest methods to avoid the problems of configuring DCOM when the operating systems do not match.

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Topics: Device Integration, OPC Tunnel, DCOM, Tunneling

Protocol Docs - The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

Posted by Kevin Rutherford on May 31, 2016 2:00:00 PM

If you’re reading this blog, you likely need a way to collect data from some random device in your process – something like a barcode reader or a weigh scale or an RFID system or some other device.  These are the types of device that don’t typically yield favorable results when you type “OPC Server for xyz” into a Google search.

In this blog post, I'll discuss the device manufacturer documentation that is typically provided for such devices and what some of the key information is you'll be looking for - including examples of how a good protocol document will present such information.

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Topics: Device Integration

Configuring a tunneler should be quick and easy

Posted by Win Worrall on May 24, 2016 2:00:00 PM

This is Part 6 of our “25 Things to Consider when Choosing an OPC Tunneler” series - Configuring a tunneler should be quick and easy.

How easy does the tunneler vendor make it to get started with their solution?  It's important to consider what resources the vendor has made available to you to assist with setup and configuration.  Resources such as videos, FAQs and technical support could mean the difference between your setup taking only minutes to that same setup taking hours or even days.

This blog post will outline some of the expectations you should have from a good tunnel vendor with respect to the resources they can provide to make your experience as user-friendly as possible, both now and in the future.

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Topics: Device Integration, OPC Tunnel, DCOM, Tunneling

Can your tunneler do more than just tunnel?

Posted by Win Worrall on May 10, 2016 1:52:44 PM

This is Part 5 of our “25 Things to Consider when Choosing an OPC Tunneler” series. Can your tunneler do more than just tunnel?

Many OPC tunnelers out there are just that—an OPC tunneler and nothing more. What if you need to perform another operation with the data besides tunneling it?  In most cases, you'd be stuck introducing an additional piece of software to handle any other operations.

This blog post will outline some of the additional functions you might need from a tunneler and why having a single application is the best architecture.

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Topics: Device Integration, OPC Tunnel, DCOM, Tunneling

Performance matters when choosing a tunneler

Posted by Win Worrall on Apr 26, 2016 2:00:00 PM

This is Part 4 of our “25 Things to Consider when Choosing an OPC Tunneler” series. Performance matters when choosing a tunneler.

Performance is always an important consideration when choosing the best tunneler.  It is even more important if one or more of the following is true:

  • You need to transfer a lot of data very fast.
  • You are using networks with limited bandwidth.
  • You are using cellular or satellite networks that charge based on the amount of data used.

This blog post will cover some important aspects to consider when evaluating different tunneling solutions, their methods and the resulting performance relative to such variables.

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Topics: Device Integration, OPC Tunnel, DCOM, Tunneling, Tunnel Performance

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Working in industrial automation since 1996, the Software Toolbox team has seen a lot. The level of automation system sophistication of our integrators and users has evolved, each driven by the demands of their market and clients.  Everyone's learning continues as technological change accelerates.

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