Software Toolbox Technical Blog

2 min read

OPC Router Basic Training - Connecting SQL to OPC Data Sources

By Marc Holbach on Jul 9, 2020 2:00:00 PM

Logging industrial process data to a database such as Microsoft SQL is a common requirement of many projects across industries.  One of the key applications for storing industrial process data is providing historical context and reporting of the process so that better decisions can be made.

In Part 1 of our OPC Router Basic Training series, we will cover step-by-step how to easily connect to OPC UA and DA data sources to SQL databases for logging process data with the OPC Router.

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8 min read

Why use an OPC Server Development Toolkit?

By Ganesh Kalipershad on Jun 25, 2020 2:00:00 PM


As technical consultants at Software Toolbox, we are often approached by users who need to expose data from a software application they have written, or are writing, to communicate from systems they own to a client, HMI/SCADA, or historian. And, in many cases, there are dozens of applications at different sites that the data needs to reach. The question we are then presented with is, “how can I accomplish this quickly and efficiently while staying within budget?” 

Continuing our OPC Development Toolkits blog series, our hope is to answer this question and share from our experience with OPC since 1996, what our users have told us are the common reasons why they chose to use a commercial OPC server toolkit, and to help readers determine what factors to consider for their specific situation and circumstances.

In the first part of this series, we covered the basics of commercial OPC client development toolkits, with a dive into the benefits of using one, while here in part 2, our focus is on OPC server development toolkits. If you read our blog on OPC client toolkits, you will likely notice a clear overlap in the benefits you gain from using both types of commercial OPC toolkits.

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6 min read

Accessing Industrial Data from OPC & SQL Sources with HTTP Clients

By Marc Holbach on Jun 18, 2020 2:00:00 PM

Having ready access to the wide array of industrial data available in an enterprise is increasingly important these days, for a variety of reasons.  With ever-expanding applications for using "big data" towards efficiency initiatives such as digital twins, predictive analytics and predictive maintenance, having the ability to bring all of your industrial data together is essential.

In order to analyze that data, however, the upstream systems performing that analysis need access to the actual data - data that is typically widely dispersed geographically and even departmentally within locations.  One interface that is relatively common for such systems is the ability to act as an HTTP (or REST) client.

This blog post will provide an overview of an easy and secure way to share industrial process data available common OPC UA, OPC DA and SQL database sources with big data and other systems that can act as an HTTP / REST Client using the OPC Router. You'll also have a chance to download our free guide with step-by-step instructions.

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3 min read

Key TOP Server for AVEVA V6.9 Features to Be Excited About

By Kevin Rutherford on Jun 11, 2020 2:00:00 PM

In keeping with ongoing continuous improvement initiatives, TOP Server for AVEVA V6.9 expands connectivity support for several existing drivers.  This is in addition to other updates to over 25 drivers and plug-ins.

In this post, we'll cover the key features released in V6.9 in more detail, including updates to OPC UA Client driver data types and tags for EUROMAP 77 compatibility, support for additional GE Fanuc Focas parameters, expanded Torque Tool Ethernet message IDs and more, including how they benefit you as a TOP Server user.

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2 min read

Connect RESTful Web Services to Databases, OPC UA / DA & More Systems

By Kevin Rutherford on Jun 4, 2020 2:00:00 PM

Accessing various industrial data via RESTful web services has become increasingly necessary over the past decade.  From devices with self-hosted web services to relevant market data such as weather information and pricing for commodities and energy, there is a host of relevant data to be integrated from such web services.

In this video, we will cover step-by-step how to easily connect to RESTful web services and perform reads and writes, as well as, logging data to and reading data from a database or connecting that data to other systems such as OPC UA - all with the OPC Router.

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2 min read

Connect Your Barcode Scanners to Barcode Printers

By Kevin Rutherford on May 28, 2020 2:00:00 PM

Barcode scanners and printers are devices that are very common in a variety of industries, whether it's for use in a manufacturing process or a multitude of other possible uses.  But how do you go from scanning a barcode to printing that barcode?

In this video, we will cover how to connect to both a Datalogic barcode scanner and a Zebra barcode printer, as well as, transferring the scanned barcode data to the printer automatically.

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8 min read

Why use an OPC Client Development Toolkit?

By Ganesh Kalipershad on May 21, 2020 2:00:00 PM


A common question we are asked as technical consultants at Software Toolbox is “why should I use an OPC toolkit when there is free sample code and other free solutions available to me?” That’s a fair and logical question, but this post takes a different approach. 

Instead, with this 2-part blog series, our hope is to share from our experience with OPC since 1996, what our users have told us are the common reasons why they chose to use a commercial OPC toolkit, and to help readers determine what factors to consider for their specific situation and circumstances.

In the first part of this blog series on OPC development toolkits, we will cover the basics of commercial OPC Client Development Toolkits, with a dive into the benefits of using one, while in part 2, we will look at OPC Server Development Toolkits.

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6 min read

Tech Support Corner: Protecting Your TOP Server OPC UA Process Data

By Tyler Lindsey on May 14, 2020 2:00:00 PM


With the rising security demands of Industry 4.0, OPC UA provides us with the means to encrypt data as it is transferred between client and server. But what if encrypting data to prevent outside extraction is not enough? What if UA client applications become compromised? What tools do we have to protect against deliberate or even accidental manipulation or consumption of data?

Continuing our Tech Support Corner blog series, this post covers how to leverage the built-in TOP Server User Group Security settings, alongside OPC UA username and password authentication, for greater control over which users have read/write capabilities as well as what tags a user is permitted to access.

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5 min read

Exploring OPC UA - Key Concepts of a Layered Security Model

By Marc Holbach on May 7, 2020 2:00:00 PM


So far in our ongoing Exploring OPC UA blog series, we have taken a primarily general look at OPC UA Certificates and how they are used by OPC UA clients and OPC UA servers to keep industrial data secure.

In this third post of the series, we'll take a step back and look at OPC UA security in general with respect to the layered approach that is employed to cover aspects such as authentication, confidentiality and the integrity of communications.

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5 min read

Top 5 Time-Saving Features of the OmniServer Visual Protocol Editor

By Kevin Rutherford on Apr 30, 2020 2:00:00 PM


If you know nothing else about OmniServer, you probably know it is commonly used for accessing information from devices that use ‘non-standard’ protocols including such devices as weight scales, barcode readers, and printers either over serial connections or Ethernet connections.

From its beginnings 25 years ago, OmniServer was designed to save time and effort when integrating your "other" devices, especially when compared to the time, effort and cost of alternatives such as custom code.

In this blog post, we will step through the 5 most time-saving features of OmniServer's Visual Protocol Editor, including short demo videos of each feature, highlighting how they can help you save up to 40% more of your time and effort when configuring an OmniServer protocol to communicate to your other devices.

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2 min read

Accessing AVEVA (formerly Wonderware) from OPC UA Clients with DataHub

By Kevin Rutherford on Apr 23, 2020 2:00:00 PM


Cogent DataHub supports a wide range of connectivity interfaces for different data sources such as OPC UA, OPC DA, ODBC, DDE and so much more.  With those interfaces, DataHub is a flexible gateway commonly used for data integration by external software such as HMI, SCADA, MES, historians and other client applications.

In this video blog, I'll show you how to access data from AVEVA InTouch (formerly Wonderware) or AVEVA System Platform (formerly Wonderware) from OPC UA clients supporting the Data Access profile using the DataHub OPC Gateway.

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5 min read

Top 3 TOP Server OPC UA Client Use Cases

By Kevin Rutherford on Apr 16, 2020 2:00:00 PM


Standards-based industrial device connectivity such as OPC has become the norm over the last 20 years.  What used to be achieved by individual HMI/SCADA vendors with their own native drivers can now be easily accomplished with OPC drivers that are HMI/SCADA vendor agnostic.  TOP Server offers connectivity to thousands of device types and protocols while making those devices accessible via a variety of standard interfaces including OPC UA, OPC DA and SuiteLink.

But what you may not be aware of is that TOP Server for Wonderware has an available driver suite called the OPC Client Suite that allows it to also act as an OPC UA client, OPC DA client and OPC XML-DA client.  In this post, I'm going to go through the top 3 most common use cases for the OPC Client Suite that we see users take advantage of.

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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.

This blog is about sharing from these journeys.  From tips on implementing software, successes our clients have experienced, or new ideas and things to consider in your journey, we'll be sharing them here.

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