Video Tutorial: Using Topic Variables in an OmniServer Protocol

Posted by Kevin Rutherford on Oct 19, 2017 2:00:00 PM

A Topic Variable is a flexible special OmniServer element that gives you the ability to define a device specific variable such as a Device ID at the OmniServer topic level.  This effectively makes your OmniServer protocol reusable for those devices using the same protocol, since you can now specify the value of the variable when creating the OmniServer topic instead of creating a protocol for each device with the value hard coded.

In this video blog, I show you how to get the most from your OmniServer by using topic variables with your protocol to reduce your engineering time and effort to create an OmniServer protocol.

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Topics: Wonderware, Device Integration, OPC UA, OPC, Protocols

Ensuring Maximum OPC Server Availability

Posted by Win Worrall on Oct 12, 2017 2:00:00 PM

Redundancy can mean a lot of things, as discussed in our Demystifying Redundancy Blog post.  In this blog post we want to focus more specifically on one of the use cases in that blog post:  managing redundant OPC servers.  Just having two OPC servers talking to your PLC’s does not make them redundant.  Most OPC Servers don’t have built-in methods of knowing there is another redundant OPC server instance out there.

Some HMI/SCADA systems support redundancy but sometimes it involves scripting and other custom written code.   So, in many cases, you need supplemental software to manage and optimize the connections to your two OPC servers.  Your OPC client then talks to the redundancy management software as if it is the actual OPC server.

This blog post covers some of the considerations and watch outs when choosing how to manage your OPC server redundancy.  After that we will also discuss how the Cogent DataHub can help manage your redundancy to provide high availability for your OPC server communications.

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Topics: Device Integration, OPC Redundancy, Control System Redundancy, DataHub

Demystifying Redundancy in Automation

Posted by Win Worrall on Oct 4, 2017 11:54:51 AM

I’ve heard from users new to the automation profession that it can be overwhelming to learn about the product technologies used in industrial automation alone, while also learning about the concepts, and having to deliver on the job results.  This is the the first post of our Automation 101 blog series which is designed to help professionals that are new to the industrial automation space whether at the start of their careers, or moving into the operations technology (OT) world from an IT or other background.

In this post, I am going to discuss redundancy.  The term is often used broadly, and sometimes it can be a simple application, but it can also quickly unravel into a complex discussion with lots of technical details, more than can be covered in a single blog post.   Whenever a client contacts us to discuss redundancy, there are many questions we ask to understand what redundancy means in their operation.

My focus will be on providing insight to the reasons why redundancy is used, the business factors that drive how far you go with redundancy, the types or levels found in automation systems, and considerations in the implementation of automation software systems.

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Topics: Device Integration, OPC Redundancy, Automation 101, Control System Redundancy

Top 3 TOP Server V6.3 Features to Be Excited About

Posted by Kevin Rutherford on Sep 28, 2017 2:00:00 PM

You've probably either received one of my emails or possibly heard from a colleague about our latest TOP Server release – so you may have a general idea of the key new features in the TOP Server V6.3 release.

In this blog, I'll go through the top 3 key features released in V6.3 in more detail and how they benefit you as a TOP Server user.

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Topics: Wonderware, Device Integration

Making Your Smart Phone Smarter with Email/SMS Alerts

Posted by Win Worrall on Sep 21, 2017 2:00:00 PM

In the automation and control world you need to know about problems immediately.  If problems are not recognized early enough, they can cause unexpected downtime, damage to machinery or environmental impacts.  In other words, these problems can cost you a lot of money.

Fortunately, these days most of us have 24/7 access to email or texting through their laptops and smart phones which has made receiving alarms in a timely fashion much easier than in the past.

In this third post of our “I Can Do That?” blog series, we’ll cover how to get alerts to problems ASAP and also share some specific use cases for email/SMS notifications using Cogent DataHub.

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Topics: OPC UA, OPC, OPC Alarms and Events, OPC DA, Email, SMS, Alarming

Logging Only The Data You Need When You Need It

Posted by Marc Holbach on Sep 14, 2017 2:00:00 PM

Do you need to log specific process data to a database or text file based on some predefined variable or condition? We typically refer to this concept as "conditional" or "condition-based" logging.  It sounds simple enough but without a plan, it can be a tricky task to implement.

In this post, I'll introduce you to the considerations involved with conditional data logging and cover how OPC Data Logger can easily be set up to log data based on a variety of conditions without a lot of headaches.

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Topics: OPC UA, OPC, OPC Integration, OPC DA, Logging, Conditional Logging, Data Logging

Bridging the Gap between OPC, DDE, ODBC and Other Data Sources

Posted by Win Worrall on Sep 7, 2017 2:00:00 PM

Do you need to directly connect data points or variables in different equipment, processes, or software? This concept is commonly referred to as ‘point-to-point bridging,’ and the DataHub bridging capability allows multiple data sources to communicate with each other in real time.

In this second post of our “I Can Do That?” blog series, we’ll help users like you get the most out of your DataHub by understanding the bridging feature in detail and how this feature can often be combined with other features to accomplish some very powerful automation tasks.

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Topics: Device Integration, OPC UA, OPC, OPC Alarms and Events, OPC Integration, OPC DA, OPC Conversion, OPC Bridge, Bridging

Video Tutorial: Using Translations in an OmniServer Protocol

Posted by Kevin Rutherford on Aug 31, 2017 2:00:00 PM

A Translation is a flexible special OmniServer element that gives you the ability to replace a specified byte or sequence of bytes with something else in your sent or received (or both) protocol messages.  This is typically needed in situations where a device protocol sends preamble characters or maybe a "Double DLE" sequence that requires special handling. Or even to simply convert something like a text or numeric value to something else, like a boolean value.

In this video blog, I show you how to get the most from your OmniServer by using translations with your protocol to convert necesssary sequences to process data to and from your devices in the most effective way possible.

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Topics: Wonderware, Device Integration, OPC UA, OPC, Protocols

Break Down Your Obstacles to OPC Standard Interoperability

Posted by Win Worrall on Aug 24, 2017 2:00:00 PM

OPC has been around as an industry standard since 1996.  If you’ve been working in the space very long, you have probably heard all the different acronyms thrown around.  If you’re new, well there are different specifications in the OPC software interoperability standards that are used to meet different information integration needs.

In this first post of our “I Can Do That?” blog series, I’ll explore examples of the connections between different OPC standards we hear about from users, ways to address them using OPC Gateway software, and use cases highlighting solutions we’ve seen other users implement successfully.

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Topics: Security, OPC UA, OPC, OPC Alarms and Events, OPC Gateway, OPC Integration, OPC DA, OPC Conversion

TOP Server V6.2 for Wonderware - Siemens S7 Ethernet Auto-Tag Generation

Posted by Kevin Rutherford on Aug 17, 2017 2:00:00 PM

There are some nice, time-saving updates available in TOP Server V6.2.  In case you happened to miss it, I did a high-level post shortly after the release giving you an overview of the four biggest features from V6.2 - click here to see that post.

Today, I'd like to go into the latest update to the Siemens S7 Ethernet driver in TOP Server V6.2.  Keep reading to find out about updates to the automatic tag generation functionality in the S7 Ethernet driver for supporting the latest Siemens programming package, TIA Portal.

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Topics: Wonderware, Device Integration

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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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