Software Toolbox Technical Blog

Flexible Control of Real-Time Device Polling Schedules

By John Gonzalez on May 16, 2024 2:00:00 PM

The TOP Server OPC server is known for its ability to collect real-time data from a wide range of devices, using off-the-shelf industry standard protocols. However, challenges arise when not all devices can consistently share data in real-time due to limitations in connectivity mediums or networks. This is particularly evident in critical SCADA-heavy industries like Power & Utilities, Renewable Energy, Oil & Gas and Water/Wastewater, where precise control of polling is crucial due to their limited bandwidth availability. With traditional cyclic polling, for example "once an hour", you can end up with high bandwidth utilization at the top of an hour and the communications link being idle the rest of the time. Rather than do that, it's better to spread that usage out over the full hour.

The TOP Server Scheduler Plug-In is used to accomplish this spreading out of polling. With it, users can create a customized polling schedule for these devices for any TOP Server driver, which in turn optimizes communications between your SCADA, HMI, MES, or Historian and devices in the field. This eliminates the need to rely on your client applications or direct device configurations to achieve reliable collection crucial operational data from field devices.



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Your OPC Client Toolkit Should Keep Connectivity Simple, Right?

By Nicole Knox on May 9, 2024 2:00:00 PM

Sometimes we are approached by users and integrators with very specific business demands, and an off-the-shelf OPC client solution isn't always the answer to their problems. As they explore the fully customizable development toolkits on the market, they are often concerned that their OPC expertise is inadequate for writing their own OPC client application. How should states and client objects be handled? When would an OPC group need to be created and have items added? What about timeouts, keep-alive intervals and more? Isn't PubSub (as in OPC UA PubSub) a deli sandwich from a popular grocery store called Publix in the US region we live in? Look – we hear you – and its problems like this that Software Toolbox has been solving since 1996. Let's start by saying this up front – you do NOT need to be an OPC expert or understand the internal complexities of OPC connectivity. Our OPC client development toolkit handles all of that and so much more for you. Let's learn more. 



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Tech Support Corner: DataHub Item Imports Made Easy

By Connor Mason on May 2, 2024 2:00:00 PM

Cogent DataHub enables users to integrate diverse data sources quickly and efficiently within their industrial automation ecosystems. By providing multiple ways to consume, organize, and deliver data, handling multiple inputs is a strong suit of DataHub.

CSV import functionalities are available for a variety of plug-ins including OPC DA & UA Clients, MQTT Client, External & Local Historians, Bridging, and Modbus. In this blog, we'll delve into the format and import options of OPC UA items specifically tailored for DataHub's OPC UA Client configuration, but the concept is the same for all CSV imports in DataHub.



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Enabling Sustainability through all Levels of the Automation Pyramid

By Zachary Parham on Apr 25, 2024 2:00:00 PM

Software Toolbox’s solutions play a pivotal role throughout multiple renewable energy sectors. However, our solutions don't only help with the day-to-day creation of renewable energy but also the supply chains that enable the creation of these energy sources, reducing cost and increasing efficiency across all levels of your business via automation.

Last week, we shared a specific use case of how our software is being used to help reduce waste and energy usage. In this final post of our Environmental Sustainability series, we will explore additional ways our software can be, and has been, used across the entire automation pyramid to reduce waste and increase efficiency. Chances are, this is something you are already very familiar with. But for those of you who are not, the automation pyramid functions as a conceptual blueprint utilized in industrial automation representing the different levels of data transfer necessary for automation. This pyramid likely aligns with the different areas within your business.



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Energy Efficiency Success Story: Cloudy with a Chance of Unified Data

By Sarah Eckhoff on Apr 18, 2024 2:00:00 PM

Happy early Earth Day! And welcome back to our Environmental Sustainability series, where we explore the pivotal role of innovation in safeguarding our planet. In this third installment, our focus shifts to the chemical industry, where we will explore a compelling case study and uncover the strategies employed by one company to standardize and unify their operations with principles of sustainability.

Through this case study, we will witness firsthand how advancements in technology and strategic decision-making can yield substantial gains in energy efficiency. Join us as we investigate where the pursuit of efficiency intertwines with environmental stewardship.



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Empowering Sustainability in and through the use of Cloud Data Centers

By Zachary Parham on Apr 11, 2024 2:00:00 PM

There is significant growth in companies offloading their applications, data management, files, and content to cloud hosted systems. While this is great for a multitude of reasons, have you wondered what impact that might have on your business reaching its sustainability goals? That's where we have some good news – the cloud can be, and typically is, green, because of the economies of scale that large data centers provide. In this second post of our Environmental Sustainability blog series, we'll look at what cloud providers and data centers are doing, how using cloud computing can help reduce your company's energy usage and carbon footprint, and how Software Toolbox's solutions empower them all.



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Revolutionizing Sustainability with Circular Economy and OPC Standards

By Sarah Eckhoff on Apr 4, 2024 2:00:00 PM

In this first installment of our 2024 Environmental Sustainability Blog Series, we’re going to piggyback on last year’s Waste Reduction blog post, and take things a step farther – how can you incorporate aspects of a circular economy to positively impact your work environment? In this blog post we’ll discuss what a circular economy is, the impact circular economies have on the environment, and how software that leverages OPC Standards and the automation industry can play a pivotal role in fostering its success.



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Did You Know? How to Use Character Translations in OmniServer

By Jessica Dillon on Mar 28, 2024 2:00:00 PM

Those of you who are aware of OmniServer will already know that it is primarily used to retrieve information from devices that use 'non-standard' protocols to communicate, such as weigh scales, barcode readers, and printers. An HMI, SCADA, MES, Historian, database, and more, could then read that data from OmniServer, making it a powerful, universal, data acquisition tool.

Some of these 'non-standard' device protocols require what we call "special handling". For most protocols, if you've used OmniServer, data that is sent or received is "what you see is what you get" type data. An ASCII "A" is transmitted or received and interpreted as an ASCII "A". But what if your device is expecting something else as part of its special handling in its communication protocol? Or what if you wanted to interpret the data differently from the device to meet new business standards or existing requirements?

OmniServer is capable of handling advanced protocols where the devices send special characters/bytes that need to be handled in a specific way. In this blog, we will explain how to use a feature called "translations" in OmniServer with certain protocols that require special handling.



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Modbus Offset vs. Addressing: Why Does It Matter?

By Ryan Royse on Mar 21, 2024 2:00:00 PM

Have you ever been confused on the difference between Modbus offsets and addresses? I’m sure you may have configured different Modbus devices from different manufacturers who follow different documentation standards, especially for memory mapping. As we all know, that can certainly increase implementation time. In this blog post, we are going to dive into how offsets and addresses compare and differ to hopefully provide a better understanding, cutting down that configuration time when using TOP Server. Before we start comparing offsets and addressing, let’s first get an understanding of what both are.



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DataHub – 3 Ways to Transform Database Writes

By Kyle Persyn on Mar 14, 2024 2:00:00 PM

If you’re an existing user or you’ve been keeping up with our previously released Cogent DataHub blogs, you’re already aware that Cogent DataHub is renowned for its extensive connectivity options to industrial data systems, but most importantly its secure, high performance, scalable, firewall, DMZ, & proxy friendly data transfer within premises and to/from the cloud. However, it’s worth emphasizing that DataHub’s connectivity includes MQTT, IoT, OPC DA, OPC UA, OPC UA Alarms & Conditions, OPC Classic Alarms & Events, Modbus, Excel, ODBC & more. These methods of connectivity help users realize that with DataHub, data has the freedom to seamlessly and securely traverse across various platforms. We truly believe that "once the data is in DataHub, it can go anywhere, securely".

In this blog post, I'll provide insight into using DataHub’s Transform property to manipulate data that is being logged to a database table. To follow along with this blog, as a prerequisite, you will need to have an ODBC database configured and have DataHub set up to be writing to that database. For more information on connecting and writing to a database, please read our blog DataHub – 5 Quick Steps to Writing to a Database Table”. Unlike loggers that only work with OPC data sources, DataHub’s capability to securely tunnel data and aggregate from diverse sources besides OPC empowers many different types of applications.



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Using TOP Server's Advanced Tags Plug-In: Calculations & Data Bridging

By John Gonzalez on Mar 7, 2024 2:00:00 PM

TOP Server is widely used in automation for data collection from your industrial control systems. One of the many benefits of using TOP Server is that it ensures data integrity – meaning that the accuracy, consistency, and completeness of the data is maintained from your data source all the way up to whatever is consuming that data from TOP Server, such as your HMI, SCADA, MES, or Historian. While its capability to collect unchanged raw data from field devices is invaluable, it may not always align with the desired format, and there could be elective data massaging or manipulation required to meet your business demands. TOP Server can convert data types and even scale to engineering units, but what if you need more advanced data such Cycle Time, Maximum Temperature, Downtime Reason, etc.?

The TOP Server Advanced Tags Plug-in enhances functionality by providing added features to any TOP Server driver, such as mathematical operations and data bridging across protocols, thereby streamlining analysis processes and enhancing decision-making capabilities within industrial control applications.

In this article, we'll briefly introduce a few key features of the TOP Server Advanced Tags Plug-in that could serve valuable to you in your data collection processes.



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Video Tutorial: Data Collection from DNP3 RTUs & Devices

By Lauren Conrad on Feb 29, 2024 2:00:00 PM

DNP3 (Distributed Network Protocol) is a communications protocol primarily used for communications between a client application such as HMI, SCADA, or Historian and Remote Terminal Units (RTUs) or Intelligent Electrical Devices (IEDs). Originally designed for power distribution and transmission, the DNP3 protocol has also found a home in water/wastewater, oil & gas, and transportation thanks to its robust error checking and if applied properly, efficient bandwidth usage.

If you're reading this, you may be a part of one of these industries and might have a DNP3 RTU being used and need to integrate data from that process. If so, we can certainly help with that. A newer application of DNP3 is in the Emerson FB-3000 RTU's used in oil & gas. If you’re trying to figure out how to extract EFM historical data from one, we can help with that too, so please contact us!

The TOP Server DNP3 Client Suite supports data access from any device supporting the DNP3 protocol that acts as a server, over serial or Ethernet connections, wired or wireless/radio.

Our DNP3 drivers also boast deep functionality advantages including things like:

  • Automatic Tag Generation support for Channel and Device Configuration, Authentication Statistics, Data Set, Device Attribute, and File Control
  • Support for Integrity & Event polls across multiple classes that users define in the RTU to provide different frequency of retrieval for different points
  • Unsolicited messaging from the devices on conditions defined in the RTU
  • Analog deadband configuration
  • Secure DNP3 Support (Configurable User Authentication, Aggressive Mode support, User Key Management, Auto-generated internal Authentication Statistics tags)
  • Preservation of timestamps set in the device
  • WITS Phase 1, 2, and 3 support for the water industry
  • File transfer support (critical for Emerson FB-3000 devices, and used by some devices for remote configuration file upload and activation)

In this video blog, we'll show you how to get started using our TOP Server DNP3 Client Ethernet driver to connect and gather process data from a DNP3 device for HMI, SCADA, Historian, MES, and other client applications.



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Video Tutorial: Getting Started with OPC Router Project Development

By Nicole Knox on Feb 22, 2024 2:00:00 PM

OPC Router is a powerful tool that can be used to easily integrate large quantities of data from a variety of sources using its modular configuration, adding value to a variety of industrial, business (ERP/SAP), and IoT data systems. It's drag and drop visual workflows result in reduced engineering time and risk in Industry 4.0, IIoT, and Digital Transformation applications. When combined with Software Toolbox's OPC server offerings and other automation software, plus decades of expertise in automation, the results are rapid time-to-value solutions.

In the following video, we'll walk through a simple example to show you the fundamentals of developing a project in OPC Router. You'll learn how to comfortably navigate the interface and how to verify that your setup is functioning properly. This process will also give insight into the building blocks that make the product so malleable and adaptable to many different use cases.



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Logging OPC Data with Custom Time Formats

By Connor Mason on Feb 15, 2024 2:00:00 PM

When logging data to a database or text file, the way that data is presented is essential due to the implications it has for who, or what, is reading this data to make decisions. Without the correct configuration of the data’s timestamps, records can easily become misinterpreted or sorted in non-chronological order by further systems. It’s critical that your data logging solution provides flexibility to get your data when you want it, how you want it, and stored the way you want it. Providing full control of the timestamp format for many users is not just a feature of our OPC Data Logger, but a requirement based on other connected systems and standards. Customizable Time Formats is the focus of today’s blog, but it is just one of the OPC Data Logger’s many flexible features that have our fans raving over it.



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OPC Data Client and NuGet: The What, Why, and How

By Zachary Parham on Feb 8, 2024 2:00:00 PM

Software Toolbox has been a fixture in the automation industry since 1996, offering software tools and components from project conception to completion. Our expert staff is committed to helping customers leverage current technologies while offering ways to enhance or expand systems and approaches to achieve even greater returns. When it comes to our OPC Data Client Development Toolkit, that promise remains the same, and we want to help you make the best decisions for your development workflow.

The OPC Data Client has offered the usage of NuGet packages since 2016 as an alternative to adding assembly references via the components when writing custom OPC client applications. As our users have moved towards the use of NuGet, we made this a requirement for .NET Framework beginning with our V2022.2 release. In this blog post and accompanying video, we will cover what NuGet is, when to use it, and how to use it if it makes sense for your requirements.



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Automating Data Entry from Test Stand & QC Devices as Keyboard Input

By Jessica Dillon on Feb 1, 2024 2:00:00 PM

Unlike off-the-shelf OPC servers and drivers that talk to specific devices or protocols and no others, OmniServer can be configured to talk to virtually any device or combination of serial, USB, or Ethernet connected devices with some outliers based on the complexity of the protocol. OmniServer helps you bring data that would otherwise be inaccessible into your process and business systems, helping you make more effective decisions. In our experience there are still many software applications that do not have open interfaces such as OPC for data input. This is particularly common in quality control and test stand applications. Operators use a digital device to capture a measurement, and then have to type that into their test stand or QC software. This slows testing rates and can be error prone. There is a better way. 



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2024 Automation & Control Software Learning Resources

By John Weber on Jan 25, 2024 2:00:00 PM


Welcome to our most popular blog post of the year! Each year we publish this blog post to help you learn, grow, and support empowering you to improve your business.

This post is our 7th annual sharing of references to learning resources including our ever hot Tech Support Corner, popular technical blog posts, and product capabilities that users have told us were the most helpful to them over the course of the last year.

2023 continued the challenges in supply chain, inflation, labor shortages, and exploding customer demand and in many cases technology continues to be a key part of dealing with the challenges.



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DataHub – 5 Quick Steps to Writing to a Database Table

By Kyle Persyn on Jan 18, 2024 2:00:00 PM

If you've been keeping up with our previously released Cogent DataHub blogs, you're already aware that Cogent DataHub is renowned for its extensive connectivity. However, it's worth emphasizing that DataHub's connectivity includes MQTT, IoT, OPC DA, OPC UA, OPC UA Alarms & Conditions, OPC Classic Alarms & Events, Modbus, Excel, ODBC & more. These methods of connectivity help users realize that with DataHub, data has the freedom to seamlessly traverse across various platforms. We truly believe that "once the data is in DataHub, it can go anywhere, securely".



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Why Are My Data Values Wrong? - Exploring Modbus TOP Server Settings

By Ryan Royse on Jan 11, 2024 2:00:00 PM

In the world of industrial automation and control systems, communication protocols play a crucial role in ensuring seamless data exchange between devices. Modbus started as a protocol used in Modicon, now Schneider Electric, PLCs in the 1970’s. It was adopted across the industry for its clarity and simplicity. With any protocol, including and especially with Modbus, there are areas where the parties to the communication, the client and server, can interpret the bit stream of data differently once exchanged because the Modbus protocol specification does not speak to those interpretations.



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Data Exchange File Formats: Exploring ETL Tools with OPC Router

By Nicole Knox on Dec 21, 2023 2:00:00 PM

To achieve operational and business goals, many industrial automation system architectures are designed to push and pull data from a multitude of sources and destinations that come with a variety of formats. Bridging the gap between systems that use distinct standards and protocols can be challenging if the right tools aren't properly selected, and too often users resort to custom software. This is where users can leverage OPC Router’s ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) Tools—a valuable solution for seamlessly repackaging data across processes that use distinct standards or protocols.

In this article, we will briefly introduce the power of OPC Router’s ETL Tools, exploring a few use cases that highlight their role in structuring data into popular file formats. If you are not already familiar with what OPC Router is and what it can do for your particular process, you can visit the OPC Router website or the OPC Router Technical Guides with a Quick Start for New Users.



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Exploring Cogent DataHub's Alarm & Notifications Plug-In

By John Gonzalez on Dec 14, 2023 2:00:00 PM

Cogent DataHub is primarily known for its extensive connectivity to OPC DA, OPC UA, OPC A&E, Databases, Historians, Excel, ODBC, DDE, Linux, Modbus and more. However, it is worth noting that this platform offers more than just connectivity. In this blog post, we'll cover the capabilities of DataHub’s Alarm & Notification Plug-In, which supports the configuration of custom alarms, events, and notifications. You can enhance your A&E Client applications by adding this feature to any DataHub License Pack, and generate alarms based on any data integrated into the DataHub, or simply send email/SMS alerts.



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OPC Data Client 2023.2 Adds Python.NET Support

By Kyle Persyn on Dec 7, 2023 2:00:00 PM

Developers that have leveraged our OPC Data Client toolkit for their custom OPC client development needs know that we’ve historically supported Python as a COM development language, but that had always come with limitations and a desire from our user base for a more modern option.

In the latest V2023.2 release, OPC Data Client now adds support for Python.NET, while also announcing the deprecation of the older COM approach. The newer Python.NET option offers many advantages including, but not limited to:

  • Modern, maintained Python.NET package (pythonnet), instead of the older pypiwin32 package
  • Added performance and reliability that comes from using the OPC Data Client .NET API over the COM API
  • Access to .NET features, such as generics, methods overloads, and callbacks
  • Easier coding

With the added support for Python.NET, we have also added more than 270 Python.NET examples to make it as easy as possible for our users to learn how this works within our product. PyCharm is now listed as one of the primary development environments.

Now that we have a basic understanding of the advantages that Python.NET has over its predecessor, let’s see it in action!



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Exploring MQTT – Understanding Quality of Service (QoS) with DataHub

By Connor Mason on Nov 30, 2023 2:00:00 PM

MQTT continues to grow in popularity and implementation within the industrial automation community. For those who are still new and learning about this protocol, MQTT is a light-weight transfer protocol built around a publish/subscribe architecture. In simple terms, MQTT can be compared to a mail envelope, providing structure and a common appearance with a supported delivery system, while the actual content of that envelope can vary widely.

Because of the ambiguity of message content, implementations of MQTT can be utilized for various needs across segments in our industry, though the varying message content presents its own issues that are outside the scope of this article. There are multiple solutions for providing structure and standards around the message content that we will discuss in future posts.

This blog will primarily focus on the reliability of message delivery based on the concept of Quality of Service (QoS). We will be utilizing the Cogent DataHub to showcase these options, as it can act as both the MQTT Broker & Client. It is important to note that this information can be applied to various MQTT implementations, including other Software Toolbox product offerings with MQTT, such as OPC Router or the TOP Server MQTT client driver.



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Exploring TOP Server's Out-of-the-Box Security Features

By Kyle Persyn on Nov 16, 2023 2:00:00 PM

Whether you're running a production system in manufacturing, oil and gas, building automation, or energy, safety and uptime are of the utmost importance, especially with cybersecurity attacks increasing in frequency and complexity.

That’s why when running an application with widespread user access, managing user permissions and configurations is so important, and you need a solution that is as security centric as you are. In this blog post, we delve into how to manage user groups and permissions inside the TOP Server’s User Manager and Security Policies Plug-In to ensure a robust and secure gateway to your TOP Server Configuration.



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Understanding the Different OPC Data Logger Components

By Zachary Parham on Nov 9, 2023 2:00:00 PM

Applications tend to have a lot of moving parts. Here at Software Toolbox, we know that understanding these parts is important whether you are new to an application or a seasoned veteran who wants a more robust understanding for the sake of troubleshooting and optimization. Because of this, part of our job is to help you recognize and understand the components of our products to maximize your ROI when using our solutions.

In this blog post, we'll provide an overview of the different components of OPC Data Logger, an effective solution for reliable, event-driven logging of data from OPC server data sources (both OPC UA and OPC DA) to SQL and ODBC databases (including Microsoft Azure SQL) or text and CSV files. We'll cover the wizard-based interface used for Configuration, the difference between the Service and Runtime, and the Notification functionality so you can understand the purpose of each component and how to configure them to meet your logging needs.



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Using OPC Router to Log OPC Data to JSON Files Without Code

By Jessica Dillon on Nov 2, 2023 2:00:00 PM

In today's business landscape, the exchange and storage of data plays a pivotal role in ensuring efficient and robust operations. Whether operating in sectors like Pharmaceuticals, Manufacturing, Power, or related industries, the exchange of data between services and applications has become standard practice, often an imperative. Consequently, many organizations leverage resources such as databases and historians to archive their invaluable data. However, there are instances where the need for simpler storage methods or direct interchange of data via Webservices is required to maximize application interoperability. Unfortunately, this solution area is often one filled with custom software applications. In this blog, we'll show you how to eliminate custom code and build sustainable solutions.



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TOP Server Troubleshooting Scenario: Device Side Communication Issue

By Nicole Knox on Oct 26, 2023 2:00:00 PM

Your operations visibility relies on real-time data from machinery, systems, and field devices. When there are communications issues resulting in loss of or inaccurate data, addressing issues promptly is critical. Whether it's stale, poor quality, or missing data in your SCADA or HMI application, a well-defined troubleshooting procedure is a must. Like all our products, the TOP Server OPC Server offers an arsenal of tools to inform you about what is happening and streamline your troubleshooting process, summarized in our previous blog post, Minimize Downtime with TOP Server Troubleshooting Tools.

In this post, we'll take a deep dive into some of those tools, with an emphasis on the device connection side of TOP Server, teaching you a step-by-step process to pinpoint communication issues at their source. While this specific example uses the Modbus Ethernet Driver and an OPC DA Client connection, the same principles can be applied when troubleshooting various other scenarios.



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Video Tutorial: Real-Time Collection for GE Ethernet Controllers

By Lauren Conrad on Oct 19, 2023 2:00:00 PM

The GE Ethernet family of PLCs and PACs is one of the most popular controllers across many automated industries. If you're reading this, you likely have at least one GE Ethernet controller being used in your industrial process and need to integrate data from that process.

The TOP Server GE Ethernet driver supports data access from devices using the GE SRTP Ethernet Protocol, including Series 90-30, Series 90-70, Horner OCS (Horner's Operator Control Stations), PACSystems RX3i and RX7i, and the VersaMax Family, as well as an expanded range of GE PLCs through the open device model selection within the driver.

In this video blog, I'll show you how to get started using our GE Ethernet driver to connect and gather real-time process data from GE controllers for HMI, SCADA, MES and other client applications.



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Exploring the Five OmniServer Diagnostics Tools

By Ryan Royse on Oct 12, 2023 2:00:00 PM

We all love it when things go according to plan, but realistically that’s not always the case. Inconsistent device documentation and confusing protocol specs can make custom protocol implementation for devices that don't use standard communications protocols daunting, and although OmniServer is significantly easier than custom code solutions, there are still a lot of details to attend to!

So, what happens when things aren’t working as you hoped? With OmniServer, our users rave about its simple but powerful diagnostics tools and how they make troubleshooting communication issues a breeze. In this blog post, we will examine the five diagnostics tools available within OmniServer: the Logger, Item Values, I/O Monitor, Poll Statistics and Offline Devices. Our own technical team uses these same diagnostics when we are helping you during or after implementation.



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Exploring the OmniServer Configuration User Interface

By Ryan Royse on Oct 5, 2023 2:00:00 PM

If you’ve worked with OmniServer before, you’re probably familiar with its pivotal role in extracting data from devices that use a 'non-standard' communication protocol. These devices encompass a range of equipment, such as weight scales, barcode readers, and printers, connected via either serial or Ethernet interfaces. OmniServer helps you bring data that would otherwise be inaccessible into your process and business systems, helping you make more effective decisions. OmniServer does all this at a lower cost and greater reliability than traditional custom solutions.

In this blog, we will be exploring the components that make up the OmniServer Configuration and explain what they do and how each component can be used for successful communication to your device. The main OmniServer Configuration Window is broken up into two sections: Configuration and Diagnostics. Our focus for this post is the Configuration portion and digging into Devices, Protocols, Topics and Clients.



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Video Tutorial: Getting Started with DataHub WebView

By John Gonzalez on Sep 28, 2023 2:00:00 PM

Today's industrial automation users have a need for fast, responsive, easy-to-configure Human Machine Interfaces (HMI) that can economically deliver a rich user experience and make sure critical plant production information can be securely accessed by everyone in their organization from anywhere at any time.

Cogent DataHub® WebView™, a feature offered within the Cogent DataHub IT/OT data integration software, is an advanced HMI solution tailored to seamlessly integrate with your live data streams and eliminate any delays typically associated with HMIs that are dependent on databases. As a comprehensive solution that combines real-time data delivery, a robust web server, and an HMI designer into a self-contained package, DataHub WebView provides an excellent alternative for those seeking a cutting-edge HMI for process monitoring without committing to a significant investment in a complex SCADA system.



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The What, Why, Where, and How of DataHub Scripting: An Intro to Gamma

By Zachary Parham on Sep 21, 2023 2:00:00 PM

DataHub is a solution in Software Toolbox’s portfolio of software that integrates various IT and OT data sources, and is particularly strong in working with a wide range of OPC standards, secure multi-layer data tunneling, databases, historians and more. If you've ever worked with DataHub, you've probably seen the "Scripting" tab shown in the image below with some sample scripts. Perhaps you've wondered what this scripting can do or were curious about the language that DataHub scripts use. With that in mind, in this week’s blog we will cover the "what" and "why" of scripting in DataHub, and point you to "where" you can find more resources of "how" to take advantage of the DataHub scripting engine, included free with all DataHub licenses.



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Exploring File Spanning with OPC Data Logger

By Connor Mason on Sep 14, 2023 2:00:00 PM

Storing process data almost always comes with varying project requirements, making it difficult for users to find solutions that cater to specific configuration needs. Luckily, the wide variety of configurable functionality in OPC Data Logger allows for creating unique projects to fit your needs.



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Video Blog: OT Data Integration to/from InfluxDB

By Dawid Sadie on Sep 7, 2023 2:00:00 PM

Round-trip InfluxDB Integration using OPC Router

Software Toolbox offers a variety of tools for integrating with InfluxDB.  Today we focus on OPC Router, a solution that enables visual workflow integration of traditional OT data sources with time-series databases such as InfluxDB.  The InfluxDB connector provides for reading and writing to InfluxDB (local or cloud-based). OPC Router's workflow engine provides visual data mapping, for ultimately extracting analytics and results from InfluxdB and making them available to the plant floor in OPC UA (or other) format.



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Revisiting TOP Server Redundancy with Communication Paths

By Jessica Dillon on Aug 31, 2023 2:00:00 PM

In a prior blog post regarding redundancy, we learned how critical it is to plan for redundancy in the Industrial Automation space. We covered how the TOP Server Media-Level Redundancy Plug-In  facilitates duplicate or backup systems used to maintain reliable communications with the critical components in your environment which in turn minimizes data loss and increases the availability of your critical industrial data.



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O’ Server, Where Art Thou? SLIK-DA/UA and OPC UA Discovery Servers

By Ganesh Kalipershad on Aug 24, 2023 2:00:00 PM

If you're a SLIK-DA/UA OPC Server development toolkit user with your own custom OPC UA Server applications or have worked with any of our other OPC UA enabled solutions, you may have noticed properties or configuration options in your software by the name of Local Discovery, Discovery URL, Discovery Servers, or Discovery Domain. Clearly, there is a recurring theme here of “Discovery”. Taking this even further, you may also have a Windows Service running on your PC called “OPC UA Local Discovery Server” (LDS), but we often encounter users who don’t know what a UA Discovery Server is, how to leverage it with their custom SLIK-DA OPC UA Servers, or why they should even consider it. Proper usage and implementation of an OPC UA Discovery Server will make it easy to find and connect to your UA Servers from your UA Client software applications such as HMI, SCADA, MES, & Historians if they also support OPC UA Discovery.



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Tech Support Corner: Flexible Options for Tag Management in TOP Server

By Haley Waddell on Aug 17, 2023 2:00:00 PM

Tags, nodes, points, items, symbols – in our industry, we often see these terms thrown around, but in most instances, we’re all talking about the same thing. From the TOP Server OPC Server's perspective, we refer to them as tags. A tag is an OPC Server software application’s representation of a device address to use for communication. This is how your HMI, SCADA, MES, historian, or other client application is able to consume data. If you’re a TOP Server user, you know that you are required to configure tags to get data from your device, but did you know there are multiple options of how to accomplish this?



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Product Update: OPC Data Logger - Store & Forward Added

By Connor Mason on Aug 10, 2023 2:00:00 PM

If you’re an existing user of OPC Data Logger or in the market for an OPC logging solution, you likely agree that having a reliable and accurate record of your data is a top priority. One of the most valuable parts of investing in a data logging solution is being able to trust that all the data from your sources is captured. But what happens if you lose the connection to your database? What happens to the incoming data during that downtime? Software Toolbox offers several solutions for logging data and today we will focus on OPC Data Logger and its database logging capabilities. 



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Tech Support Corner: Making TOP Server Config Changes While Active

By John Gonzalez on Aug 3, 2023 2:00:00 PM

Have you ever wondered why certain features in TOP Server work the way you experience them, or how something might work in certain scenarios?  Well this blog post tries to answer a few of those type of questions!

Anyone that has used TOP Server before has had to make edits to the configuration. While TOP Server allows changes to many settings while actively collecting and serving data, and makes it simple, there are things to consider to avoid disrupting operations. TOP Server has certain restrictions in place when making configuration changes, and while potentially frustrating, these are for your benefit and security. For example, perhaps you have tried to make a certain change, but observed that the setting immediately changes back and “doesn’t stick”. Or maybe you’ve logged onto your machine and were unable to make any configuration changes at all. Why is that?



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Video Blog: Automating LGH File Inspector Queries

By Zachary Parham on Jul 27, 2023 2:00:00 PM

LGH File Inspector for AVEVA InTouch (formerly Wonderware) enables easy, scalable, fast access to local daily historical data files (*.lgh files) logged by AVEVA InTouch applications without the limitations imposed by other solutions. There are many advanced features in the product and options for automating queries to run without user interaction to generate reports, exports, and more.  



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OPC Router Configuration Management Overview, Methods & Tips

By Nicole Knox on Jul 20, 2023 2:00:00 PM

When working with OPC Router, especially as you build larger and more powerful projects to integrate OPC, web services, databases, ERP, SAP, and other systems in your Industry 4.0 initiatives, it’s good to have an idea of the underlying operations of the application. That knowledge can empower you to get the best results from the software’s many connectors and visual workflow engine.  If you’ve never heard of or are new to OPC Router, we invite you to explore the OPC Router website and view the OPC Router Getting Started Virtual Training Video



Topics: OPC Router
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OPC Router Power Tips - Using OAuth 2.0 with REST APIs

By Rodrigo Restrepo on Jul 13, 2023 2:00:00 PM

In the ever-changing landscape of industrial control, the ability to establish connections and facilitate efficient data exchange between different technologies is crucial. With digital transformation, the industry requires robust integration solutions more than ever before. This is where the powerful combination of OPC Router, it's ability to both call and host REST APIs using industrial data, and OAuth 2.0 comes into play, enabling organizations to achieve secure and streamlined communication across their automation and other systems.



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Ensuring Data Availability with the TOP Server Redundancy Plug-In

By Jessica Dillon on Jun 29, 2023 2:00:00 PM

The engineering definition of redundancy is “the inclusion of extra components which are not strictly necessary to functioning, in case of failure in other components.” In the Industrial Automation space, redundancy is critical. Not planning for redundancy can easily result in vulnerability to financial losses due to unexpected downtime. There are multiple types of redundancy in the industry. In this blog, we will be covering “Media-Level Redundancy”.



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OPC Data Client 2023.1  Adds .NET 7 support, OPC UA security management improvements & more examples

By Ganesh Kalipershad on Jun 22, 2023 2:00:00 PM

With the release of the OPC Data Client 2023.1 toolkit, custom OPC client developers will benefit from improvements targeted at platform support, developer productivity, and custom application end user productivity.  If you missed the OPC Data Client 2022 releases, be sure and read what we added to OPC Data Client in 2022. As always, OPC Data Client license holders on an active support and maintenance agreement are entitled to free upgrades.



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Getting Started with LGH File Inspector

By Zachary Parham on Jun 15, 2023 2:00:00 PM

As a continuation of our Tech Support Corner blog series, this post will look at how to set up a query in LGH File Inspector, how to export LGH data, and some of the configurable options available in LGH File Inspector. 



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Building Better Data Foundations for Manufacturing Decisions

By Dawid Sadie on Jun 8, 2023 2:00:00 PM

In this video blog post, Jeff Knepper from Flow Software and I engage in a discussion about the issues that users and integrators often face. Drawing from our experience, we dive into the challenges we've noticed in assisting manufacturers to reconsider and redesign their strategies in building robust data infrastructures, essential for scaling their analytic solutions. Join us as we explore these topics and more in this 46-minute video blog post.



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Leveraging Visual Studio for Efficient OPC Router Scripting

By Rodrigo Restrepo on Jun 1, 2023 2:00:00 PM

OPC Router is a standards based tool for data integration from the shop floor through all levels even up to ERP systems, with a visual workflow engine, scalable configuration templates, and integration to many OT and IT systems. Leveraging OPC UA, REST, SOAP, MQTT and more, it can be an essential enabling tool for your Industry 4.0 applications. Solutions can be extended using C# scripting, and this blog shows a live built example of how to efficiently use Visual Studio to build those scripts. 



Topics: OPC Router REST
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A Tribute to Kevin Rutherford from his Software Toolbox Family

By John Weber on May 25, 2023 2:00:00 PM


In today's blog post, I reach out to you in tribute to Kevin M. Rutherford, our dear friend and colleague. 

It is with an exceptionally heavy heart that I am writing to share that Kevin passed away suddenly and unexpectedly on May 14, 2023. Our compassion, love and support go out to his wife Jennifer, Kevin's family, their friends and extended family at this time of loss. Last week, we held a week of silence on this blog in honor of Kevin. This week we felt moved to honor Kevin here, the place many of you heard from him regularly and share what he meant to us, partners, & clients around the world. Bear with us, as we have a lot to say, but we loved Kevin and he will be missed forever. 



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What Can You Count On When Working with Software Toolbox?

By Haley Waddell on May 11, 2023 2:00:00 PM


Having expectations, for both oneself and others, plays a vast role in motivation, success and the overall experience one has in virtually any situation. As can be expected, when you're reaching out to the technical support team of any company, there's a good chance you're already in a state of some distress, potentially. As such, an empathetic ear and technically proficient hand on the other end of the line can go a long way to making your day better.

Software Toolbox takes great measures to ensure that all employees are equipped to provide exceptional support and we hold ourselves to a high expectation when delivering solutions to your technical problems. We put ourselves in your shoes wherever possible to understand the stressors motivating your call so we can do our best to deliver. This blog post will highlight some key benefits of working with Software Toolbox.



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Video Tutorial - Logging Dynamic JSON Data to SQL or MES

By Rodrigo Restrepo on May 4, 2023 2:00:00 PM

JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) is a file format that has become fairly common in the industrial automation industry for storing data or information (including such things as configuration files). But also as one of the most common data formats used by RESTful APIs and web services, which are commonly used for providing a range of useful information including energy prices and weather data.

Sometimes, of course, depending on the application, some or all components of JSON packet might be variable or dynamic in nature, which can make it difficult for off-the-shelf industrial software solutions to properly parse the information from those packets.

In this post, I will cover step-by-step how to leverage the scripting capabilities of the OPC Router to access and parse JSON packets either from a JSON file saved to a specific file directory or from a RESTful web service after which that data can be used with any of the other connectors that OPC Router supports. For this example, we log the data to a SQL database.



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Software Toolbox Solutions Commonly Used in Renewable Energy Sector

By Sarah Eckhoff on Apr 27, 2023 2:00:00 PM


Firstly, Happy Belated Earth Day to all that celebrated on Saturday!

Currently, renewable energy generates around 20% of all electricity in the US. This percentage increases daily - you may have seen more solar panels popping up around your neighborhood! This allows us greater potential to modernize the grid through renewable energy within our communities.  As the potential for more energy generation increases, the need for more jobs within this sector increases as well.  In fact, with the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA), the more than $50 billion in clean manufacturing investments in the law will create an estimated 900,000 jobs over the next decade.  These strong investments will initiate a manufacturing revitalization and help to move clean manufacturing to center stage within the US.

In this fourth and final installment of our Environmental Sustainability blog series, we are going to take a look at commonly used software solutions that our clients in the Renewable Energy sector have implemented to assist with sustainable energy production.



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Industrial Software Solutions and Oil & Gas Environmental Compliance

By Zachary Parham on Apr 20, 2023 2:00:00 PM


When people think of environmental sustainability, in general, they often do not think of the oil and gas industry. But the fact of the matter is that oil, natural gas and other hydrocarbons are a large part of our global energy supply and chemical production. There are many environmentally-focused regulations that these industries must meet. Even with these regulations, the industry has begun to exceed these expectations through technology such as carbon capture as a method of reducing one’s ecological footprint.

In this third installment of our Environmental Sustainability blog series, we are discussing oil & gas industry regulatory requirements and how industrial automation software solutions empower organizations in the industry with monitoring of critical data so they can act on potential issues before they become problems, and support their reporting to meet such requirements and also with monitoring such that those requirements can be more easily achieved.



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The Economic Impact of Environmental Sustainability

By Sarah Eckhoff on Apr 13, 2023 2:00:00 PM


Environmental sustainability is built on the principle that everything humans need for both survival and our well-being triggers a reaction in the environment. The pillars of sustainability are based upon the interdependent relationships of the environment, the economy, and our society. Because many of the goods and services that are required for human survival are either traded for or purchased monetarily, this inherently creates an impact on the environment. So, what is the economic impact of environmental sustainability?

In this second installment of our Environmental Sustainability blog series, we are exploring just that – how investing in the sustainability of your product line can have positive impacts on the environment.



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Waste Reduction in Automation Using OmniServer

By Zachary Parham on Apr 6, 2023 2:00:00 PM


Here at Software Toolbox, we strive to be the “One Responsible Partner” for our clients - a motto we see as soon as we enter the door every morning. That extends beyond just our amazing sales and support teams. It also means being the One Responsible Partner for our Earth.

With Earth Day coming up, our team has decided to take this month to focus on the different ways our products help users achieve their own environmental sustainability goals and the conservation of natural resources in general. In this first blog post, we will take a look at how OmniServer helped a food and beverage user improve efficiency and reduce waste in a “sweet” way.



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Did You Know? OmniServer Byte Order to Display Item Values Correctly

By Kevin Rutherford on Mar 30, 2023 2:00:00 PM


As someone who has worked with non-standard device connectivity using OmniServer for almost 18 years, I've encounter most of the subtle nuances of certain protocols that a user might need to implement and how to do so in OmniServer. One such nuance (which is true even with "standard" protocols such as Modbus) is that it's not uncommon for device vendors to implement their communication protocols with variable or parameter values that use a unique byte order compared to ordering by the first byte received to the last byte received (also referred to Most Significant Byte to Least Significant Byte, Big Endian or Motorola Byte Order).

You may not be aware that OmniServer has several flexible ways to manipulate the ordering of bytes parsed into Items to be shared with client applications to ensure that the correct and expected value is always displayed in your HMI, SCADA, historian, MES or other client applications.

Returning and expanding our "Did You Know" OmniServer blog post series, I'll cover what byte ordering settings are available in OmniServer, when you might need to use them and how.



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Tech Support Corner: Three Ways to Mass Create TOP Server Static Tags

By Ganesh Kalipershad on Mar 23, 2023 2:00:00 PM


It's common for members of the Software Toolbox Technical Team to encounter instances where users need to configure thousands of static tags for the devices in their TOP Server projects. We have even supported implementations with over a million tags.

In such situations, it would be inefficient to manually add each individual tag to TOP Server. There are several better alternatives for adding large quantities of static tags to a TOP Server project: Automation Tag Generation (ATG), Bulk Tag Creation, and/or CSV Import/Export.

Continuing our Tech Support Corner blog series, this post covers what methods you have available to mass create large quantities of static TOP Server tags and how to use them for greater efficiency.



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Tech Support Corner: Understanding DNP3 Polling Behavior Basics

By Kevin Rutherford on Mar 16, 2023 2:00:00 PM


The DNP3 protocol is commonly used in water/wastewater and other utilities related industries. It's common for RTUs used in these industries to support both DNP3 and Modbus (and possibly other communications protocols). DNP3 has many features compared to Modbus (and other more traditional protocols) that make it desirable for such remote telemetry applications including buffered event history and unsolicited (or Report-By-Exception).

But if you're new to working with DNP3 (it's common for users in such industries to be quite familiar with Modbus but not so familiar with the quirks of DNP3), it's important to understand how differently it behaves with respect to polling frequency, polling composition and considerations when configuring the DNP3 outstation/device itself.

Continuing our Tech Support Corner blog series, this post discusses what drives the polling behavior for DNP3 drivers in TOP Server and how the configuration on the device itself can impact what data is returned when a poll is issued.



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Tech Update: New Releases, DCOM Alternatives & Tech Tips

By John Weber on Mar 9, 2023 2:00:00 PM

This week's post is a technical update to share news about updates released for DataHub and OPC Data Logger, reminders about the value of the Tech Support corner, and your last warning about DCOM Hardening before the Windows update next week!

The team is working on some more tech tips and video tutorials that you'll start seeing later this month. Meanwhile, here's this week's update.



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Tech Support Corner: Configuring TOP Server as a Modbus Device/Server

By Ganesh Kalipershad on Mar 2, 2023 2:00:00 PM


With Modbus having been around since 1979, I’m sure you have had some interaction with it or at least awareness of it if you work in the automation industry. Our TOP Server is very widely used for its Modbus TCP/IP Ethernet Driver and variety of Modbus serial drivers to enable users to connect to any Modbus devices that they have in the field. For that common use case, the device is the Modbus Server, and the TOP Server is the Modbus Client.

But what if you needed to configure TOP Server to be the Modbus TCP/IP Server (i.e. the “device”)? That is the purpose of this next post in our continuing Tech Support Corner blog series – to discuss and tell you how you can configure TOP Server to act as a Modbus server device, which is a common need for systems where either a device or other software application can only act as a Modbus Client and you have other systems that need connectivity to that Modbus client.



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Tech Support Corner: Client/Server Roles & Read Types with TOP Server

By Nicole Knox on Feb 23, 2023 2:00:00 PM


A common misconception about TOP Server as an OPC server is that TOP Server will poll your device/devices automatically with no OPC client connected. So, when you are getting started with TOP Server, it is good to have an accurate understanding of how interactions occur between each node of a basic OPC architecture— client-server and server-device— to ensure that the configuration meets your needs and can be scalable to more demanding projects.

Continuing our Tech Support Corner blog series, in this blog post, we will discuss some basics of the interactions between an OPC client and server, including different types of reads and the expected behavior that you'll see as a result of those interactions.



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Tech Support Corner: Using TOP Server with OPC UA Discovery Servers

By Zachary Parham on Feb 16, 2023 2:00:00 PM


If you're a TOP Server user with OPC UA client connections to TOP Server, you may have noticed a section in the OPC UA Configuration Manager titled "Discovery Servers". Possibly you're using an OPC UA Local Discovery Server (LDS) but many of our users aren't sure what an LDS is, how to use one with TOP Server or why they should.

Continuing our Tech Support Corner blog series, in this blog post, I will step through how to make TOP Server discoverable via a Local Discovery Server or a Global Discovery Server using the OPC UA Configuration Manager, as well as what this does behind the scenes so that you can make other OPC UA servers discoverable even if they don’t have a similar built-in configuration tool.



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Let's Take a REST...API and Integrate a Wide Variety of Data

By Kevin Rutherford on Feb 9, 2023 2:00:00 PM

So, no, we're not actually taking a rest - we're looking at what REST the acronym means from a practical perspective. But perhaps after reading this, if you're looking to connect to a RESTful API, you can give your mind a rest knowing you have a path forward.

I know the first time I ever heard the term, I had no idea what it meant or how to approach it. Maybe you've been told a certain data source has a REST API for accessing it, but you're not sure where to get started leveraging that API with your control system.

This post will provide a practical explanation of what REST is, how it can be useful to you and how you can take advantage of data provided by RESTful APIs or web services in your operations.



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TOP Server for AVEVA V6.13 Features to Be Excited About

By Kevin Rutherford on Jan 26, 2023 2:00:00 PM

In keeping with ongoing continuous improvement initiatives, TOP Server for AVEVA V6.13 adds several enhancements and resolves known issues for over 20 drivers and plug-ins.

In this post, we'll cover the key features released in V6.13 in more detail, namely some helpful testing features, functionality and performance enhancements to several drivers, updates to Siemens S7 Plus Ethernet and updated MTConnect version support, including how they benefit you as a TOP Server user.



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2023 Automation & Control Software Learning Resources

By Kevin Rutherford on Jan 19, 2023 2:00:00 PM


Welcome to our most popular blog post of the year! This post is our 6th annual sharing of references to learning resources including new whitepapers, our ever hot Tech Support Corner, a new AVEVA Users Corner, and new technology releases that users have told us were the most helpful to them over the course of the last year.

2022 accelerated transformations as industry worldwide continued to adapt to succeed in the face of ongoing challenges in supply chain, inflation, labor shortages, and exploding customer demand.  Each year we publish this blog post to help you learn, grow, and support empowering you to improve your business.



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Video Tutorial: AVEVA InTouch to DataHub via OPC UA Expands Options

By Kevin Rutherford on Jan 12, 2023 2:00:00 PM


Users of AVEVA software are already familiar with the native connectivity options they have for interfacing with different systems and devices. AVEVA users often turn to Cogent DataHub® for integration of a wide variety of industrial and other data sources such as MQTT clients/brokers, SparkplugB systems, databases, historians and much more.

AVEVA InTouch users have traditionally connected to DataHub via its OPC DA Classic interface (via AVEVA OI Gateway). AVEVA's OI Gateway also provides those users the additional option of connecting to OPC UA data sources, for easier and more secure remote connections to such data sources.

In this video blog post, we will cover the basic steps to connect AVEVA InTouch to DataHub via OPC UA, expanding the variety of connectivity options available to AVEVA users.



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Video Tutorial: AVEVA InTouch to OmniServer via OPC UA Expands Options

By Kevin Rutherford on Dec 15, 2022 2:00:00 PM


Most AVEVA users are already familiar with the native connectivity options they have for interfacing with different systems. AVEVA users have turned to OmniServer for many years to integrate non-PLC devices such as barcode scanners, weigh scales, vibration monitors, RFID readers and more, all without custom code.

Those users of AVEVA InTouch have traditionally connected to OmniServer directly via its native SuiteLink interface. AVEVA's OI Gateway provides those users the additional option of connecting to OPC UA data sources, for easier and more secure remote connections to such data sources.

In this video blog post, we will cover the basic steps to connect AVEVA InTouch to OmniServer via OPC UA, expanding non-PLC device connectivity options for AVEVA users.



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Video Tutorial: AVEVA InTouch to TOP Server via OPC UA Expands Options

By Kevin Rutherford on Dec 8, 2022 2:00:00 PM


Most AVEVA users are already familiar with the native connectivity options they have for interfacing with different systems. Many AVEVA users have also turned to TOP Server over the years, both for standardizing device connectivity in a single server and for drivers/protocols not available as native AVEVA options as a complementary solution.

Those users of AVEVA System Platform have traditionally connected to TOP Server directly via either its native SuiteLink interface. AVEVA's OI Gateway provides those users the additional option of connecting to OPC UA data sources, for easier and more secure remote connections to such data sources.

In this video blog post, we will cover the basic steps to connect AVEVA InTouch to TOP Server via OPC UA, expanding device connectivity options for AVEVA users.



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Using OPC Router for Real-Time Process Updates to Microsoft Teams Chat

By Kevin Rutherford on Dec 1, 2022 2:00:00 PM


It's pretty common these days for companies to use Microsoft Teams™ for internal communications within and between departments and maybe even between IT and OT segments in an organization. This has become more and more important with increasing remote office scenarios, enabling vital collaboration between key members of an organization.

But what if you could also have real-time updates from your process and other systems in the same fashion? Rather than a colleague messaging you about an urgent matter, what if your actual processes and even business systems could message you via Teams with actionable information (possibly a line is down, or a tank level is approaching maximum level)?

In this blog post, we'll cover the steps necessary to use OPC Router to integrate your variety of systems with Teams so that you can have real-time updates and make important decisions about your business more quickly.



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Video Tutorial: Real-Time Collection for Siemens S7 TCP/IP Ethernet

By Lauren Conrad on Nov 17, 2022 2:00:00 PM


If you're reading this, you likely have at least one Siemens S7 PLC on your network being used in your industrial process and need to integrate data from that process. And if you're still using traditional Siemens variable-type addressing to access your S7 controllers, you need traditional S7 TCP/IP protocol connectivity.

In this video blog, I'll show you how to get started using our Siemens TCP/IP Ethernet driver to connect and gather real-time process data from Siemens S7 PLCs for AVEVA software applications and other clients.



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OPC Router Adds MQTT SparkplugB, More Cloud Options, Flexibility

By Kevin Rutherford on Nov 10, 2022 2:00:00 PM


OPC Router includes a wide range of features that you may already be taking advantage of. The product is regularly updated to add additional useful features and tools, and to resolve any known issues, as part of its continuous improvement process.

In this post, I will cover new features and enhancements available in OPC Router V4.28 including:

  • New MQTT Sparkplug A & B Plug-in 
  • MQTT V5 support
  • Support for Oracle Cloud Databases & Wago IoT Cloud 
  • Expanded Database and Variable Triggers


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AVEVA System Platform to OPC Router Connectivity Options via OPC UA

By Kevin Rutherford on Nov 3, 2022 2:00:00 PM


AVEVA users have a range of native connectivity options for interfacing with different systems. OPC Router also supports connectivity to variety of different systems that users sometimes need to access from AVEVA System Platform. Users of AVEVA System Platform can leverage OI Gateway to easily and securely connect to OPC Router via OPC UA for connections to many other data sources.

In this blog post, we will cover the basic steps to connect AVEVA System Platform to OPC Router via OPC UA, enabling additional connectivity options for AVEVA users to systems such as SAP (and other ERPs), a variety of relational and other databases, conversion of file data including CSV, XML, JSON and others, IIoT systems including REST and SOAP web services and MQTT brokers and more.



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Did You Know Google IoT Core is Shutting Down? Start Preparing Now!

By Zachary Parham on Oct 27, 2022 2:00:00 PM


If you have been following our blog for a while or have been exploring IoT platforms available in the market, you may know that the Google Cloud Platform combined with the Google IoT Core is a frequently used combination in the industry. Google has recently announced that it will be shutting down the Google IoT Core. In doing so, Google is forcing many of its Cloud Platform users to switch platforms.

In this blog post, we will review detailed information about the alternatives to the Google Cloud Platform that are available for use with all of the IoT capable products we provide, and how the change works.



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Faster LGH File Inspector ROI: More Flexibility & Up to 86% Reduction in Query Times!

By Zachary Parham on Oct 20, 2022 2:00:00 PM

The LGH File Inspector software solution enables rapid query and export of Wonderware InTouch LGH files to Excel & CSV for analysis and reporting. Following on the recent LGH File Inspector v3 release a few months ago, the LGH File Inspector has been updated again to Version 3.5.

This release is all about “Faster Time to ROI” with much faster queries, ways to add calculated value to the data, and more options for how to view & export data, and access recently run projects. Find out how these updates can benefit you with this technically deep blog post.



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Video Tutorial: Real-Time Collection for Modbus Devices

By Lauren Conrad on Oct 13, 2022 2:00:00 PM


Modbus is one of the most widely used protocols around the world, implemented as the communications protocol by many different vendors for integration with other systems. If you're reading this, you likely have at least one Modbus device (whether it's a PLC, RTU or other device) being used in your industrial process and need to integrate data from that process.

In this video blog, I'll show you how to get started using our Modbus TCP Ethernet driver and it's flexible settings to connect and gather real-time process data from pretty much any Modbus Ethernet capable device for HMI, SCADA, MES and other client applications.



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Did You Know? Using Special Characters in OmniServer Protocol Messages

By Kevin Rutherford on Oct 5, 2022 10:00:00 AM


As someone who has worked with non-standard device connectivity using OmniServer for over 16 years, I consider myself well-versed in some of the more obscure nuances of certain protocols that a user might need to implement and how to do so in OmniServer.  It's very common for non-standard device protocols to simply be some combination of ASCII alpha-numeric characters with some special characters mixed in for starting messages, terminating messages or as delimiters.

Many OmniServer users may not be aware, though, that there are certain ASCII characters that are used in OmniServer protocol messages that have special meaning. So when you come across a device protocol that requires those characters to be sent or receive as-is (namely backslashes, curly braces and square brackets), there is some special handling required when configuring your OmniServer protocol .

Returning and expanding our "Did You Know" OmniServer blog post series, I'll cover the usage of some common special syntax characters for OmniServer protocol messages and how to, when needed, escape their special status in the message so they can be treated as their original ASCII equivalent instead.



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Video Tutorial - Email Reports / Alerts from OPC & Other Data Sources

By John Gonzalez on Sep 29, 2022 2:00:00 PM

It's important for any enterprise to have actionable data in the timeliest fashion for making decisions. Minimizing downtime and increasing performance are important to the profitability of any company and knowledge at the point of action is key.

To that end, automating notifications or reports based on the latest process data from your various systems can ensure you're never in the dark when it comes to your processes.

In this post, I will cover step-by-step how to easily automate email notifications and reports for OPC and data sources with the OPC Router for giving you and other decision makers the knowledge you need to make informed decision as quickly as possible.



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Video Tutorial: Real-Time Collection for AB Logix Family Controllers

By Lauren Conrad on Sep 22, 2022 2:00:00 PM


Allen-Bradley's Logix family of PLCs and PACs is one of the most popular controllers across many automated industries. If you're reading this, you likely have at least one Logix controller being used in your industrial process and need to integrate data from that process.

In this video blog, I'll show you how to get started using our ControlLogix Ethernet driver to connect and gather real-time process data from Logix controllers for HMI, SCADA, MES and other client applications.



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Converting Non-OPC UA System Data for OPC UA Clients with OPC Router

By Kevin Rutherford on Sep 15, 2022 2:00:00 PM


OPC Router provides connectivity to a wide range of data sources including ERP systems such as SAP, a variety of relational and other databases, conversion of file data including CSV, XML, JSON and others, IIoT systems including REST and SOAP web services and MQTT brokers and more. It's often necessary for OPC UA client applications (such as HMIs, SCADAs and other software clients) to need access to such data sources. OPC Router also supports acting as an OPC UA server.

In this blog post, we will cover the basic steps to map such non-OPC UA data sources supported by OPC Router to OPC UA nodes/items for access by external OPC UA clients.



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Tech Support Corner: Understanding TOP Server Channel & Device Limits

By Zachary Parham on Sep 8, 2022 2:00:00 PM


Our team often gets questions about the extent to which our products can be used. It’s important to differentiate between technical versus practical limits when discussing what is and is not possible.

Continuing our Tech Support Corner blog series, I will be providing some insights into how many channels, devices, and tags it is technically possible to set up in TOP Server while also highlighting some practical rules of thumb to observe to ensure the best performance.



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Tech Support Corner: Using TOP Server Simulated Device Mode

By Connor Mason on Sep 1, 2022 2:00:00 PM


If you're a TOP Server user, you're likely accustomed to connecting to a device configured in TOP Server that is sending real-time data through one of its many available drivers. But did you know you can setup devices in a "Simulated" mode for a variety of client testing purposes when a live device isn't available?

Continuing our Tech Support Corner blog series, this post covers how the "Simulated" device property works, why you might implement it into your testing and a brief walkthrough on connecting a variety of client applications to a simulated device in TOP Server.



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Video Tutorial: Using DataHub Advanced MQTT Parsing

By Win Worrall on Aug 25, 2022 2:00:00 PM


Cogent DataHub® is a gateway that enables a wide range of connectivity interfaces for different data sources such as OPC UA, OPC DA, ODBC, DDE and so much more.  Included in those available interfaces is the ability to act as both an MQTT client and broker even including Sparkplug B support for enabling MQTT integration with many other types of systems that don't natively support MQTT.

A key facet of the MQTT specification that can sometimes be complex for our users and cause issues with compatibility between DataHub and other MQTT clients and brokers is how to handle the formatting of MQTT messages. As you may or may not know, while MQTT does specify how to construct a message header for routing by an MQTT broker, it does NOT specify the actual message content. This tends to be a challenge when MQTT clients from different developers need to work together, since they need to be using the same format for the message content.

In this video blog, I'll show you how to use DataHub V10's Advanced MQTT Parser capability to specify flexible formats that will work with virtually any other vendor's MQTT clients and brokers.



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AVEVA System Platform to TOP Server via OPC UA Expands Connectivity

By Kevin Rutherford on Aug 18, 2022 2:00:00 PM


Many AVEVA users are probably already aware of the native connectivity options they have for interfacing with different systems. Many AVEVA users have also turned to TOP Server over the years, both for standardizing device connectivity in a single server and for drivers/protocols not available as native AVEVA options.

Those users of AVEVA System Platform have traditionally connected to TOP Server directly via either its native SuiteLink interface or OPC DA Classic. AVEVA's OI Gateway provides those users the additional option of connecting to OPC UA data sources, for easier and more secure remote connections to such data sources.

In this blog post, we will cover the basic steps to connect AVEVA System Platform to TOP Server via OPC UA, expanding device connectivity options for AVEVA users.



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Tech Support Corner: Understanding TOP Server Device Scan Modes

By Jessica Dillon on Aug 11, 2022 2:00:00 PM


If you are reading this post, chances are you have configured your TOP Server project and are communicating with your devices successfully. Perhaps, you also have a client application successfully writing and/or reading to or from TOP Server. Did you know all TOP Server drivers provide several different Scan Modes for controlling how client requests affect the polling frequency for your configured devices? In fact, these Scan Modes apply to all client connection types including OPC UA, OPC DA and AVEVA SuiteLink.

Continuing our Tech Support Corner blog series, this short post will discuss the five Scan Mode options available in the TOP Server Device Properties. Each Scan Mode serves a different purpose depending on your specific scenario. We will explain each mode, giving you a better understanding of which mode is best for your situation. Correctly setting the Scan Mode to match the capabilities of your device will help to provide optimal performance for your automation system.



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AVEVA System Platform to OmniServer via OPC UA for Non-PLC Devices

By Kevin Rutherford on Aug 4, 2022 2:00:00 PM


AVEVA users already have a wide range of connectivity options for interfacing with different systems. For many years, OmniServer has been expanding that connectivity to include non-standard, non-PLC type devices that don't have an existing off-the-shelf communications driver. Users of AVEVA System Platform have traditionally connected to OmniServer via either the native SuiteLink interface or OPC DA Classic. AVEVA's OI Gateway provides those users the additional option of connecting to OPC UA data sources, for easier and more secure remote connections to such data sources.

In this blog post, we will cover the basic steps to connect AVEVA System Platform to OmniServer via OPC UA, expanding non-standard device connectivity options for AVEVA users.



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AVEVA System Platform OPC UA Client to DataHub OPC UA Server for Expanded Connectivity

By Kevin Rutherford on Jul 28, 2022 2:00:00 PM


AVEVA users already have a wide range of connectivity options for interfacing with different systems. Cogent DataHub® also supports an extensive selection of connectivity to different systems that users sometimes need to access from AVEVA System Platform. Users of AVEVA System Platform have traditionally connected to DataHub via OPC DA Classic. AVEVA's OI Gateway provides those users the additional option of connecting to OPC UA data sources, for easier and more secure remote connections to such data sources.

In this blog post, we will cover the basic steps to connect AVEVA System Platform to Cogent DataHub via OPC UA, expanding connectivity options for AVEVA users.



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Enabling Rapid Interoperability Between OPC UA & MQTT Sparkplug B

By John Weber on Jul 21, 2022 2:00:00 PM


Ongoing digital transformation and operational visibility initiatives continue to demand the integration of different systems using different technologies. With increased adoption of secure OPC UA and MQTT Sparkplug B, it’s only to be expected that users will have systems that support one or the other technology but need to communicate with each other.

Although OPC UA supports a publish-subscribe mechanism with OPC UA PubSub, and adoption of OPC UA is strong and growing, the reality is there will be situations where the user is already using MQTT Sparkplug B and needs to integrate it with OPC UA or vice-versa, without writing custom code or going through complex configuration.

Software Toolbox was founded in 1996 on the principal of making data and device integration easy by using configurable off-the-shelf software to avoiding writing custom solutions and knowing the pros and cons of and ins and outs of many technologies. That mission remains strong, as you’ll see, as we discuss interoperating between OPC UA and MQTT in this blog post.



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Understanding OPC UA Certificates and Certificate Authorities

By Zachary Parham on Jul 14, 2022 2:00:00 PM


If you use OPC UA, you are likely at least somewhat familiar with OPC UA certificates. OPC UA client and server applications typically have Application Instance Certificates to provide application-level security. They are used for establishing a secure connection using Asymmetric Cryptography.

OPC UA certificates include a digital signature by the generator of the certificate. This digital signature can be self-signed or can be signed by a Certificate Authority (CA). Both types of certificates provide the same level of security and can be used in Asymmetric Cryptography. The major difference between CA signed and self-signed certificates in an OPC UA installation is the effort required to deploy and maintain the certificates. The choice of when to use a CA issued certificate versus a self-signed certificate depends on the installation and site requirements.

Many of our products leverage the OPC UA Configuration tool from the OPC Foundation to create and trust certificates and certificate authorities (CA). This tool actually installs with our OPC Data Client toolkit but is also available from the OPC Foundation. But how do we navigate this tool and the use of OPC UA certificates as a whole?

In this blog post, we will cover both methods of UA certificate signing, as well as the tool mentioned above for easily managing UA certificates for your OPC UA applications.



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Accessing AVEVA System Platform with TOP Server via OPC UA

By Kevin Rutherford on Jun 30, 2022 2:00:00 PM


Are you an AVEVA System Platform user but you also have some other client or system (HMI, SCADA, other) and need that system to access data from System Platform?  It's a use case that sometimes occurs if your company is acquired another company and a non-AVEVA HMI/SCADA came as part of the assets.  Or perhaps your company merged with another and now your AVEVA system is expected to integrate with other systems.  Your options for sharing data largely depend on what software interfaces these "other systems" support.

In this blog post, I'll discuss how to share your AVEVA System Platform 2020 (or newer) data via OPC UA (without using OI Gateway) using the TOP Server OPC UA Client driver for situations where you have another non-OPC UA capable client application that needs access to process data in your AVEVA system.



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Accessing AVEVA System Platform with OPC Router via OPC UA

By Kevin Rutherford on Jun 23, 2022 2:00:00 PM


A common use case that we encounter with many AVEVA users is the need to share data from System Platform with some other client or system (HMI, SCADA, other). It's not uncommon for a company to be acquired by another company and its assets and a non-AVEVA HMI/SCADA came as part of the assets.  Or perhaps a system is being add with limited interfaces for external connectivity.  Your options for sharing data largely depend on what software interfaces these "other systems" support.

In this blog post, I'll discuss how to share your AVEVA System Platform 2020 (or newer) data via OPC UA (without using OI Gateway) using the OPC Router for situations where you have another non-OPC UA capable client application that needs access to process data in your AVEVA system such as an ERP system, IIoT platform, web service and more.



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DCOM Hardening & Your Alternatives to Eliminate Security Risk & Stress

By Kevin Rutherford on Jun 16, 2022 2:00:00 PM

If you’re reading this post, you’ve almost certainly at least heard of DCOM. And, possibly, you’re one of many who have struggled over the years with the trials of configuring remote OPC Classic connections between machines where DCOM inevitably increased your time and difficulty for what should be a relatively painless task.

DCOM Hardening is Permanent in 6d 1h 34m 0s

DCOM hardening with no option to disable it is coming up fast - March 14, 2023. If you haven't already made a plan to either migrate away from DCOM communications entirely or address how to keep your process systems that will still rely on remote OPC Classic over DCOM working reliably, time is running out. Downtime is costly and a system that is using OPC Classic and hasn't been evaluated to determine the effects of DCOM hardening could be vulnerable to communication breaks.

This blog post discusses 6 types of options to relieve DCOM hardening pain. These include alternatives to DCOM that cover a range of use cases depending on what software you already have installed and your existing system architecture. We also have a comprehensive guide that you'll be able to request that addresses what DCOM changes will be needed if you're not in a position to migrate currently.  Our technical support team are also willing to discuss your specific requirements with you, so you're not on your own out there! 

Software Toolbox Products DCOM Readiness and Action FAQs



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Accessing AVEVA System Platform as an OPC UA Server with DataHub as an OPC UA Client

By Kevin Rutherford on Jun 9, 2022 2:00:00 PM


Are you or have you ever been in a situation where you were working with both an AVEVA solution and some other client or system (HMI, SCADA, other) and needed to share data?  Perhaps your company acquired another company and its assets and a non-AVEVA HMI/SCADA came as part of the assets.  Or perhaps your company merged with another and now your AVEVA system is expected to integrate with other systems.  Your options for sharing data largely depend on what software interfaces these "other systems" support.

In this blog post, I'll discuss how to share your AVEVA System Platform 2020 (or newer) data via OPC UA (without using OI Gateway) using the Cogent DataHub® for situations where you have another non-OPC UA capable client application that needs access to process data in your AVEVA system.



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Tech Support Corner - Top 6 Tips For First Time OmniServer Users

By Kevin Rutherford on Jun 2, 2022 2:00:00 PM


For users that have never worked with OmniServer, it can be intimidating thinking about how to take information out of a device manual or protocol document and convert that into an OmniServer protocol for your device. OmniServer makes this significantly easier, though, than alternatives such as custom code, especially once you're familiar with how OmniServer works and how to get started.

Continuing our Tech Support Corner blog series, this blog post covers six tips I know should help any relatively new users be successful getting OmniServer connected to your non-standard devices as quickly as possible.



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Video Tutorial: Real-Time Collection for Siemens S7 Plus Ethernet

By Kevin Rutherford on May 26, 2022 2:00:00 PM


If you're reading this, you likely have at least one Siemens S7 PLC on your network being used in your industrial process and need to integrate data from that process. And, like many of our Siemens users, you're likely interested in accessing symbolic references (versus the traditional Siemens variable addresses) supported by newer S7 controllers.

In this video blog, I'll show you how to get started using our Siemens S7 Plus Ethernet driver (part of the Siemens S7 Plus Suite) to connect and gather real-time process data from Siemens S7-1500 and S7-1200 PLC symbolic variables/tagnames for AVEVA Wonderware applications.



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Tech Support Corner: How to Script Wireshark Capture

By Rodrigo Restrepo on May 19, 2022 2:00:00 PM


As you may be aware, Wireshark is an incredibly useful freeware tool for capturing network traffic on a computer. Our support engineers find it to be invaluable for troubleshooting Ethernet communications issues, as it provides visibility into more than just the protocol data packets, including handshaking calls and responses.

Wireshark also provides options for specifying capture filters (for defining a smaller subset of data to be captured that you're interested in) or you can capture all traffic and apply a display filter to narrow down the traffic that is visible.

Continuing our Tech Support Corner blog series, this blog post covers how to go even further using Wireshark by defining scripted custom Wireshark captures for specific use cases, which is helpful for capturing infrequent issues without wasting a lot of unnecessary hard drive space.



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OPC Router Adds OPC UA Pub/Sub, UA Cloud Library & Docker Sample

By Kevin Rutherford on May 12, 2022 2:00:00 PM


OPC Router already includes a wide range of features that you may already be taking advantage of. You're likely also aware that OPC Router is regularly updated to add additional useful features and tools, and to resolve any known issues, as part of its continuous improvement process.

In this post, I will cover new features and enhancements available in OPC Router V4.27 including:

  • New plug-in for OPC UA Pub/Sub (Publish/Subscribe) for expanded OPC UA functionality with a new efficient method for transferring data
  • Support for the  OPC UA Cloud Library providing the ability to create and use centralized specifications based on OPC UA Companion Specifications
  • Easier Docker container support with an included, ready-configured Docker sample script


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Tech Support Corner: Using PowerShell to Troubleshoot TCP Ports

By Rodrigo Restrepo on May 5, 2022 2:00:00 PM


Do you find yourself in need of troubleshooting a TCP connection, but your IT department has everything locked down, so you're unable to install third-party Troubleshooting tools without permission? An often overlooked but effective tool for troubleshooting TCP socket connections is PowerShell.

Continuing our Tech Support Corner blog series, this blog post covers how to use PowerShell to effectively determine what issues you may be having with a problematic TCP Ethernet connection.



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Integrating LGH File Inspector via InTouch Scripting

By Kevin Rutherford on Apr 28, 2022 2:00:00 PM

A key feature of any HMI package is the ability to not only show the current state of your control system, but to then store that information for historic purposes. But being able to easily access that historical data is key for making important decisions.

LGH File Inspector enables scalable, fast access to local daily historical data files (*.lgh files) logged by AVEVA InTouch HMI and SCADA applications without the limitations imposed by other solutions.

In this blog post, we'll cover how to seamlessly integrate LGH File Inspector with InTouch using InTouch scripting using two different methods.



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Did You Know? How to "Simulate" Devices with OmniServer

By Kevin Rutherford on Apr 21, 2022 2:00:00 PM


If you're familiar with OmniServer, you likely already know how OmniServer is commonly used to retrieve information from devices that use ‘non-standard’ protocols to communicate such as weight scales, barcode readers, and printers either over serial connections or Ethernet connections.

But a common challenge is configuring an OmniServer but not having a real device physically available to test against. However, with a little extra configuration and a second PC with OmniServer installed, you can create a "device" version of the same protocol to test against.

Reviving our "OmniServer Did You Know?" blog series, I will cover how a second OmniServer can be configured to act as a test device for troubleshooting your protocol when a physical device isn't available.



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How to Easily Integrate Your OPC Router Data with Google Cloud IoT

By Zachary Parham on Apr 14, 2022 2:00:00 PM


The Google Cloud Platform (GCP) is Google’s cloud solution that brings all of Google’s cloud computing services together. Google’s own services, such as Google Search and YouTube, run on the GCP, but end users can also use their cloud services.

Google Cloud Platform, for the Internet of Things (IoT) area, offers their “Cloud IoT Core” services, which provide the functionalities to connect large quantities of devices via an integrated MQTT broker. In this blog post, we will show the necessary steps for connecting this Cloud IoT Core to the different data interfaces supported by OPC Router.



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Tech Support Corner: Running / Maintaining Cogent DataHub as a Service

By Nicole Knox on Apr 7, 2022 2:00:00 PM


Great job! You managed to configure Cogent DataHub® to fit your needs, and now you are ready to run it in a production environment, but you are left with one question – “How in the world do I run DataHub as a service?”.

Running applications as Windows services has multiple benefits but, perhaps, the most beneficial reason to run an application as a service is the ability to let the application/process run in the background without the need for a user to be logged on the operating system. For that reason, this might be why you are looking at how to run it as a service, whether you are tunneling, logging, aggregating, historizing data, and/or using Datahub as a Gateway.

Continuing our Tech Support Corner blog series, if you find yourself in this situation like other users over years, do not worry. This post will walk you through the process of running DataHub as a service as well as how to access its properties from a local and/or remote machine.



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OPC Data Client 2022.1 .NET 6, Win1021H2 Support, New Examples & More

By Ganesh Kalipershad on Mar 31, 2022 2:00:00 PM


Following on the recent OPC Data Client 2021.3 release a few months ago, the OPC Data Client toolkit has been updated again to give developers more options, help them deal with Microsoft technology changes, and add new functionality to their applications. We will cover the highlights here in this technically deep blog post.

Be sure to read about the DCOM hardening that Microsoft is performing and options to be ready, to get ahead of potential support calls from your users.



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Quick Start - AVEVA System Platform to TOP Server via OPC DA

By Zachary Parham on Mar 24, 2022 2:00:00 PM


TOP Server for AVEVA users are probably aware that TOP Server supports several methods for connecting AVEVA software solutions. TOP Server simultaneously supports SuiteLink, OPC DA Classic and OPC UA (as well as DDE for legacy applications). Users of AVEVA System Platform specifically commonly connect to TOP Server via either SuiteLink or OPC DA.

In this blog post, we will cover the basic steps to connect AVEVA System Platform to TOP Server via OPC DA, expanding connectivity options for AVEVA users. We'll also make our step-by-step quick start application note available for getting started.



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Licensing Enhancements - LGH File Inspector for AVEVA/Wonderware

By Win Worrall on Mar 17, 2022 2:00:00 PM

The LGH File Inspector software solution enables rapid query and export of Wonderware InTouch LGH files to Excel & CSV for analysis and reporting. With Version 3.0, the licensing architecture has been redesigned for greater flexibility and ease-of-use.

In this blog post, we'll explain in more detail how the new licensing model benefits new and existing users.



Topics: Wonderware CSV LGH
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DataHub V10: Integrating Data Sources with AVEVA Insight

By Win Worrall on Mar 10, 2022 2:00:00 PM


Cogent DataHub® (from our developer partner/publisher Skkynet) provides a wide selection of connectivity options to OPC DA, OPC UA, OPC A&E, Databases, Excel, ODBC, DDE, Linux, Modbus.  As you may have already learned recently, DataHub Version 10 now includes support for integration with a wide range of common external historians. This expands your options for which data sources are compatible for historization in your chosen historian solution beyond the historian's native interfaces.

In this blog post, we'll detail how to get started integrating your data sources accessible by DataHub with AVEVA™ Insight, by writing data to your AVEVA Insight instance while also making that same historical data available for trending, visualization and reporting for both DataHub and external historical clients supporting OPC UA Historical Access (HA). 



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Video Tutorial: Using DataHub to Convert OPC Classic A&E to OPC UA A&C

By Win Worrall on Mar 3, 2022 2:00:00 PM


Cogent DataHub enables a wide range of connectivity interfaces for different data sources such as OPC UA, OPC DA, ODBC, DDE and so much more.  This makes DataHub 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 use DataHub V10's support for OPC UA Alarms & Conditions to enable OPC Classic Alarms & Events servers to work with newer OPC UA clients supporting Alarms & Conditions.



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Tech Support Corner: Troubleshooting AVEVA SuiteLink Connections

By Connor Mason on Feb 24, 2022 2:00:00 PM


Software Toolbox has a long-standing history of offering supplemental solutions that fit right in with AVEVA™ (formerly Wonderware®) projects. Many of you will be familiar with our TOP Server for AVEVA™ that offers a variety of device connectivity options, and a variety of client interface options like SuiteLink, OPC DA, and OPC UA.

SuiteLink is a communications protocol that runs over TCP/IP at the application layer, created by Wonderware to replace/succeed FastDDE, in the mid-1990's. Unlike OPC DA, SuiteLink doesn’t rely on COM or DCOM technology, making SuiteLink a common choice for remote connectivity to Software Toolbox solutions.

Continuing our Tech Support Corner blog series, this post shares best practices and procedures to follow when attempting to troubleshoot a SuiteLink connection, specifically when it comes to using SuiteLink clients with TOP Server. While this post specifically uses TOP Server as the SuiteLink server, the same techniques and concepts also apply to OmniServer, which also has a SuiteLink client Interface and is commonly used with AVEVA solutions.



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Tech Support Corner: Understanding the Different TOP Server Components

By Jessica Dillon on Feb 17, 2022 2:00:00 PM


If you are reading this post, chances are that you are somewhat familiar with TOP Server as well as how to configure it to communicate with various devices. Perhaps, you are also familiar with how to configure different settings, OPC UA endpoint settings, Licensing, Stop and Start the Service, and, if you are a developer, you might be familiar with the development resources that TOP Server offers such as the Remote Config REST API and the OPC.NET interface.

However, during our daily interaction with end-users, we often find that there is a misconception of what the TOP Server application is composed of and how each component contributes to delivering the product that you interact with daily.

Continuing our Tech Support Corner blog series, this short post will discuss the various components of TOP Server and clarify how each component contributes to the macro process that allows the application to deliver communication between your process devices and your various IT/OT systems.



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DataHub V10: Integrating Data Sources with AVEVA Historian

By Win Worrall on Feb 10, 2022 2:00:00 PM


Cogent DataHub is known for its extensive connectivity to OPC DA, OPC UA, OPC A&E, Databases, Excel, ODBC, DDE, Linux, Modbus.  As you may have already learned, the DataHub Version 10 now includes support for integration with a wide range of common external historians, expanding your options for which data sources are compatible for historization in your chosen historian solution.

In this blog post, we'll detail how to get started integrating your data sources accessible by DataHub with AVEVA™ Historian by writing data to your AVEVA Historian while also making that same historical data available for trending, visualization and reporting for both DataHub and external historical clients supporting OPC UA Historical Access (HA). 



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Five Ways OPC Router Bridges the Gap Between ERP and Plant Floor

By Kevin Rutherford on Feb 3, 2022 2:00:00 PM


For various reasons, many organizations still have one or more disconnects between the PLCs and other control devices closest to the ultimate process and the upstream systems responsible for coordinating efforts across the enterprise. In an ideal world, all data exchange between all systems in an enterprise would be automated for the greatest efficiency.

In this post (based on the article "Removing five critical media gaps" by our partner company, inray Industriesoftware GmbH), we will discuss five of the most common gaps where an organization's ERP system may still be disconnected from underlying processes and data sources. And we'll discuss how OPC Router provides the ability to eliminate those unnecessary gaps.



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2022 Automation & Control Software Learning Resources

By Kevin Rutherford on Jan 27, 2022 2:00:00 PM


2021 furthered the transformations of 2020 as industry worldwide continued to adapt to succeed in the face of new challenges such as supply chain, a growing labor shortage, and exploding customer demand.  

This post is our 5th annual sharing of references to learning resources and new technology releases that users have told us were the most helpful to them over the course of the last year.



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Key New Features - OmniServer V3.2.0.12

By Kevin Rutherford on Jan 20, 2022 2:00:00 PM


Updates are made to Omniserver several times a year, adding useful features and tools, as well as resolving any known issues as part of our continuous improvement process.

In this post, I will cover updates and enhancements available in OmniServer V3.2.0.12 that increase the usability of OmniServer with respect to migrating and saving configurations, monitoring statistics and keeping current with Microsoft technologies.



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Integrate Popular Historians with DataHub V10

By Win Worrall on Jan 13, 2022 2:00:00 PM


Cogent DataHub is known for its extensive connectivity to OPC DA, OPC UA, OPC A&E, Databases, Excel, ODBC, DDE, Linux, Modbus.  The latest Version 10 release expands connectivity to include a wide range of common external historian solutions for historizing industrial data and integrating historized data with other systems.

In this blog post, we'll highlight some specific key details about which historians are supported and how other DataHub functionality works with those historians to provide flexible options.



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TOP Server for AVEVA V6.11 Features to Be Excited About

By Kevin Rutherford on Jan 6, 2022 2:00:00 PM

In keeping with ongoing continuous improvement initiatives, TOP Server for AVEVA V6.11 adds drivers, as well as enhancing existing drivers and resolving known issues for over 30 drivers and plug-ins.

In this post, we'll cover the key features released in V6.11 in more detail, namely the new Siemens S7 Plus Ethernet driver with symbolic address support for S7-1500 and S7-1200 controllers, several powerful scalability enhancements for BACnet and important updates to several oil and gas drivers, including how they benefit you as a TOP Server user.



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Top 6 Key Features in DataHub V10

By Win Worrall on Jan 4, 2022 10:00:00 AM


Cogent DataHub is known for its extensive connectivity to OPC DA, OPC UA, OPC A&E, Databases, Excel, ODBC, DDE, Linux, Modbus.  The latest Version 10 release adds a huge amount of new or expanded functionality that further confirms our saying that "once the data is in DataHub, it can go anywhere".

In this blog post, I'll provide insight into key new features including support for OPC UA Alarms & Conditions, support for Sparkplug B for both the MQTT Client and Broker, support for reading and writing with multiple popular external historians and more. Not only will I cover what these new functionalities provide but how they can help you deliver secure, integrated connections within and between your plants, to the cloud and beyond, giving you the data and perspective you need to make critical decisions for your enterprise.



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Tech Support Corner: Secure UA Authentication with Cogent DataHub

By Win Worrall on Dec 16, 2021 2:00:00 PM


If you've seen our other, more detailed posts (specifically our Exploring OPC UA post and the DataHub OPC UA video how-to) on getting Cogent DataHub working with OPC UA clients and servers, you are probably already familiar with configuring Cogent DataHub for secure access from an OPC UA client. However, we are commonly asked how to quickly get the DataHub OPC UA server interface ready for an OPC UA client to securely connect for accessing data from the variety of other interfaces that DataHub supports.

Continuing our Tech Support Corner blog series, this short post covers just the basics for setting up the Cogent DataHub OPC UA server interface to use the highest level of security and to require a client to specify a username and password for authentication.



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Tech Support Corner: Optimizing with ControlLogix Protocol Modes

By Connor Mason on Dec 2, 2021 2:00:00 PM


If you’re a user of the Allen-Bradley ControlLogix Ethernet driver in TOP Server for AVEVA, you may be familiar with the different protocol modes available during device configuration. The three distinct options of Symbolic, Logical Blocking, and Logical Non-Blocking provide users with advanced control over how data is read and addressed from the controller.

Configuring protocol modes is usually only suggested for advanced users who have a solid understanding of each mode, and how their Logix programs are structured. To that end, continuing our Tech Support Corner blog series, this blog post will break down each of these protocol modes, while exploring their benefits and drawbacks, to provide you a clear understanding of each protocol. This post will provide the advanced knowledge needed in a usable way to best serve your own project!



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OPC Data Client 2021.3 - Windows 11, Server 2022, Examples & More

By Ganesh Kalipershad on Nov 18, 2021 2:00:00 PM


Following on the recent OPC Data Client 2021.2 release a few months ago, the OPC Data Client toolkit has been updated again to further extend it's OPC UA client functionality. 

The new updates provide developers of custom OPC client applications with new operating system support, even more examples including Powershell examples, and a large number of improvements to all the supported OPC interfaces to increase flexibility, troubleshooting, and user experience, while further decreasing development time. 



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How MariaDB Compares to MySQL

By Kevin Rutherford on Nov 11, 2021 2:00:00 PM


In a recent blog post about MongoDB, we discussed how non-relational database differ from relational databases like SQL and MySQL. The fact of the matter is, relational databases are widely used and still just as popular in the industrial automation space as ever. A popular alternative to SQL and MySQL is MariaDB which is an open source relational database.

This blog post (based on the article "What is MariaDB? A comparison with MySQL" by our partner company, inray Industriesoftware GmbH) discusses what MariaDB is, comparing it to MySQL so you can determine if MariaDB is a better database option for your company.



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OPC Router Adds Docker Support, Remote Config, InFluxDB 2 & More

By Kevin Rutherford on Oct 27, 2021 2:00:00 PM


If you're already taking advantage of the wide range of features in OPC Router, you're likely aware that OPC Router is regularly updated to add additional useful features and tools, and to resolve any known issues as part of its continuous improvement process.

In this post, I will cover new features and enhancements available in OPC Router V4.26 including

  • Expanded Edge device flexibility with support for Docker container instances
  • Remote configuration for management of one or more instances (including Docker instances)
  • Support for Influx DB2 and InfluxDB Cloud
  • Enhanced support for referencing and management of external libraries 


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Key New Features - OmniServer V3.2.0.11

By Kevin Rutherford on Oct 14, 2021 2:00:00 PM


As you may be aware, OmniServer is updated several times a year to add additional useful features and tools, and to resolve any known issues as part of our continuous improvement process.

In this post, I will cover updates and enhancements available in OmniServer V3.2.0.11 that enhance the usability of OmniServer Professional Edition for email alerts and reports and also an update that makes it easier to run OmniServer as a Windows service.



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MongoDB and How a NoSQL Database is Different

By Kevin Rutherford on Sep 30, 2021 2:00:00 PM


I think it's safe to say that when we're discussing databases in the context of industrial process control, SQL Server is where most of our brains tend to jump. The proliferation of SQL (and other traditional relational databases) across most, if not all, industries for process control applications cannot be denied. But SQL (and others) do certainly have some limitations.

This blog post (based on an article by partner company, inray Industriesoftware GmbH) discusses how MongoDB, a non-relational database (i.e. NoSQL database) are fundamentally different from the SQL Servers of the world and how MongoDB can be a good alternative to relational databases for some applications.



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Video Tutorial: Ignition SCADA to TPI Vibration Monitors w/ OmniServer

By Kevin Rutherford on Sep 16, 2021 2:00:00 PM


OmniServer's connectivity and data parsing capabilities are its primary job; however, they are only part of how OmniServer helps with integrating non-standard devices with Inductive Automation's Ignition HMI/SCADA.  How does the device data actually make it into Ignition and what devices can you connect Ignition to using OmniServer?

In this video blog, I'll show you how to use OmniServer for TPI to integrate vibration data into Ignition via an OPC UA client connection from Ignition to OmniServer - all without the expense and headaches of having to write custom code.



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Tech Support Corner: 5 Tips for Using OPC Quick Client

By Kevin Rutherford on Sep 2, 2021 2:00:00 PM


If you're a TOP Server for AVEVA (formerly Wonderware) user, you've certainly connected to a device configured in TOP Server using the included OPC Quick Client at one time or another. But if you've just been launching the Quick Client from the TOP Server toolbar, you may be missing some very useful features.

Continuing our Tech Support Corner blog series, this blog post covers five tips you can use to get the most out of your experience using the OPC Quick Client with TOP Server and other OPC DA servers.



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Easier Backup and Project Migration with OmniServer V3.2.0.10

By Kevin Rutherford on Aug 19, 2021 2:00:00 PM


You may be aware that OmniServer is updated several times a year to add additional useful features and tools, and to resolve any known issues as part of our continuous improvement process.

In this post, I will cover updates and enhancements available in OmniServer V3.2.0.10 designed to make it easier to backup and/or move your project configurations between machines (whether during migrations or new installations of OmniServer).



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Exploring OPC UA - Configuring OPC Router OPC UA Client & Server

By Kevin Rutherford on Aug 5, 2021 2:00:00 PM


Continuing our Exploring OPC UA blog series, we're still going into the specifics of OPC UA security configuration in key Software Toolbox solutions that are OPC UA capable.

In this ninth post of the series, we will focus on OPC Router, focusing on stepping through what the settings are in OPC Router and how to get connected both for your OPC UA clients and servers.



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Exploring OPC UA - Configuring OPC Data Client for OPC UA Servers

By Kevin Rutherford on Jul 22, 2021 2:00:00 PM


If you've been following our ongoing Exploring OPC UA blog series, we've been covering key Software Toolbox solutions and the specifics of configuring OPC UA security and connectivity.

In this eighth post of the series, we will focus on the OPC Data Client development toolkit, with the primary topic being how to exchange security certificates and establish a trust relationship between your custom OPC UA client and an OPC UA server.



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How to Easily Integrate Your Data with Google Cloud IoT Core

By Zachary Parham on Jul 8, 2021 2:00:00 PM


IoT, IIoT, MQTT, Connectivity of Things, Big Data, The Cloud - by now, you've heard these terms in some way, shape or form.  Perhaps you're working on a project requiring you to push and/or pull important process or business data to/from a cloud solution. Big data analytics applications ranging from predictive maintenance to "smart" manufacturing, amongst many other use cases, are becoming more and more common.

And Google© is a household name both in the private and professional world. Chances are, you got here using Google – whether through a Google search, or by using Google Chrome (or both). But did you know that Google has their own cloud solution called Google Cloud IoT Core©? Amongst many other things, Google Cloud IoT Core acts as an MQTT broker for storing and sharing important data in a secure cloud along with artificial intelligence and analytics and many other IoT services.

But how do you go from your data sources to Google Cloud IoT Core? In this second post in a series about connecting DataHub to IoT solutions (if you missed our first post on connecting to Amazon AWS IOT Core©, click here), we'll step through how you can configure Google Cloud IoT Core and connect it to your process and business data sources using the Cogent DataHub IoT Gateway©.



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OPC Data Client 2021.2 - OPC UA Functionality Extensions

By Ganesh Kalipershad on Jun 17, 2021 2:00:00 PM


Following on the recent OPC Data Client 2021.1 release a few months ago, the OPC Data Client toolkit has been updated again to further extend it's OPC UA client functionality. 

The new updates provide developers of custom OPC client applications new options to interact with even more OPC UA servers or more richly with existing OPC UA servers. This blog post teaches you how OPC UA PubSub security is different from regular OPC UA security, how to improve JSON/OPC UA PubSub interoperability with a new utility, and why you might care about OPC UA File Transfer. 



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Exploring OPC UA - Configuring OPC Data Logger for OPC UA Servers

By Kevin Rutherford on Jun 3, 2021 2:00:00 PM


If you've been following our ongoing Exploring OPC UA blog series, we've been covering key Software Toolbox solutions and the specifics of configuring OPC UA security and connectivity.

In this seventh post of the series, we will focus on OPC Data Logger, specifically stepping through settings related to security, endpoints and certificate management and connecting OPC Data Logger to OPC UA servers for logging data.



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Exploring OPC UA - Configuring Cogent DataHub OPC UA Client & Server

By Kevin Rutherford on May 20, 2021 2:00:00 PM


As you may have seen in our recent posts in our ongoing Exploring OPC UA blog series, we've been going into the specifics of OPC UA security configuration in key Software Toolbox solutions that are OPC UA capable.

In this sixth post of the series, we will focus on Cogent DataHub, focusing on stepping through what the settings are in DataHub and how to get connected both for your OPC UA clients and servers.



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Exploring OPC UA - Configuring OmniServer for OPC UA Clients

By Kevin Rutherford on May 6, 2021 2:00:00 PM


In our ongoing Exploring OPC UA blog series, we have shifted the focus from general concepts about how OPC UA certificates and security work to looking at practical usage of OPC UA in specific Software Toolbox solutions. Last time, we focused on configuring TOP Server for OPC UA connectivity.

In this fifth post of the series, we will focus on OmniServer, our solution for getting data from non-standard devices into OPC UA and other client applications. We'll step through what the settings are in OmniServer and how to get your OPC UA client applications connected.



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Exploring OPC UA - Configuring TOP Server for OPC UA Clients & Servers

By Kevin Rutherford on Apr 22, 2021 2:00:00 PM


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

In this fourth post of the series, we take the series down a more specific path by starting to look at the settings and configuration of OPC UA for specific Software Toolbox solutions. This post focuses on TOP Server for AVEVA. We'll step through what the settings are in TOP Server and how to get connected both for your OPC UA client and servers.



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Tech Support Corner: Adding Friendly Topic Names in TOP Server

By Kevin Rutherford on Apr 8, 2021 2:00:00 PM


If you're a TOP Server for AVEVA (formerly Wonderware) user, you've certainly connected to a device configured in TOP Server using a topic name. But did you know you can create custom topics called aliases with any meaningful name you would like to represent your devices?

Continuing our Tech Support Corner blog series, this blog post covers how to easily add define meaningful aliases for your devices in TOP Server for use as topics in your client applications.



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OPC Data Client 2021.1 - Developer Productivity, .NET 5 Support & More

By Ganesh Kalipershad on Mar 25, 2021 2:00:00 PM


Developers of custom OPC client applications have new options, enhanced troubleshooting tools, runtime configuration flexibility, and improved utilities to help them in the recently released 2021.1 (5.60) version of the OPC Data Client Toolkit.

In this technically hot blog post, we will cover the release highlights with links to documentation, and, as always, the full detailed release notes are available in our knowledge base. Also if you did not see the 2020.3 (5.59) release post, that one was packed with technical details.



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Integrating Fluctuating Energy Prices using OPC For Process Decisions

By Win Worrall on Mar 11, 2021 2:00:00 PM


While the recent winter storm in Texas and its rolling energy shortages has brought the subject of the availability of affordable energy and deregulation of power markets to the forefront of the conversation, this has been a problem in many areas of the world for a long time. This is mainly because of the large fluctuations in the price of energy that both residents and businesses have to endure.

It's ultimately the law of supply and demand driving such issues - when energy supply is eclipsed by extraordinary demand for it, an inconvenience during the best of times becomes a crisis in the case of extreme situations such as unexpected winter weather, devastating storms, hotter than normal summers and other unpredictable situations.

In the case of manufacturing and other industries that rely on energy as an input for operations, the cost of energy can literally determine whether a production run is profitable or not. This post discusses methods for monitoring energy costs in real-time from your HMI, SCADA or MES system using OPC UA or OPC DA, for decision support to prevent avoidable losses. 



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How to Easily Integrate Your Data with Amazon AWS IoT Core

By Kevin Rutherford on Feb 25, 2021 2:00:00 PM


IoT, IIoT, MQTT, Connectivity of Things, Big Data, The Cloud - I'm sure you've at least heard these terms in the course of your day (whether in the scope of your job or in an advertisement during a football game you happen to be watching).  Maybe you're even working on a project requiring you to push and/or pull important process or business data to/from a cloud solution - possibly for big data analytics applications ranging from predictive maintenance to "smart" manufacturing, amongst many other use cases.

And Amazon© - well, I'd wager there isn't a single person out there who doesn't know who Amazon is. But did you know they have their own cloud solution called Amazon IoT Core©? And maybe you didn't also know that Amazon AWS (Amazon Web Services©) IoT Core acts as an MQTT broker for storing and sharing important data in a secure cloud along with artificial intelligence and analytics and many other IoT services.

But how do you go from your data sources to AWS IoT Core? In this post, we'll step through how you can configure "things" in Amazon AWS IoT Core and connect them to your process and business data sources with the Cogent DataHub IoT Gateway©.



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Virtual Training: Adding OPC UA to Your Custom OPC DA Server

By Ganesh Kalipershad on Feb 11, 2021 2:00:00 PM

With OPC DA Classic having been the de-facto standard for integrating industrial automation systems for so many years, I'm sure there are quite a few of you who might have custom developed OPC DA servers using SLIK-DA. Now, of course, migrations to OPC UA are on the rise with its enhanced security, encryption and efficiency.

Of course, the prospect of replacing that OPC DA server entirely with a replacement that supports OPC UA might be less than ideal. But have you considered adding an OPC UA server interface to that existing OPC DA custom application?

In this video blog, we teach you how to add an OPC UA Server interface to your existing OPC DA Server interface using the SLIK-DA/UA rapid development toolkit with your custom software application (NO ADDITIONAL CODE). If you missed our last post on how to add an OPC DA interface to your custom software, click here.



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Virtual Training: Making your Custom Software an OPC DA Server

By Ganesh Kalipershad on Jan 28, 2021 2:00:00 PM

So your organization has a custom developed application that is performing some important task and you've been tasked with providing access to that software for an OPC DA client or clients. Adding an OPC DA server interface to a custom application that either you've developed or that you've taken over from someone else can be a daunting task.  This is especially true if you're unfamiliar with the low level nuts and bolts of the OPC DA Classic specification.

In this video blog, we teach you how to add an OPC DA Server interface to your custom software application using the SLIK-DA/UA rapid development toolkit.



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2021 Automation & Control Software Learning Resources

By Kevin Rutherford on Jan 14, 2021 2:00:00 PM


2020 was an extraordinarily challenging year for the world and, as a result, a phenomenally transformational year in manufacturing as industries worldwide had to adapt to succeed in the face of new challenges. 

We start each year off, in the spirit of a new year, with sharing references to learning resources that users have told us were the most helpful to them over the course of the last year. This year's post contains an extraordinary amount of virtual technical training opportunities.



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OPC UA PubSub, OPC Classic Updates+More in OPC Data Client 2020.3

By Ganesh Kalipershad on Jan 7, 2021 2:00:00 PM


With the recently released 2020.3 (5.59) version of the OPC Data Client Toolkit, developers of OPC Classic client applications can now use .NET Core and have more flexibility in managing optimizations in their applications. Developers using OPC UA PubSub have more methods and options to aid in their development.  More example programs will help new users get started faster or existing developers leverage other functionality in their applications.

In this technically hot blog post, we will cover the release highlights with links to documentation, and, as always, the full detailed release notes are available in our knowledge base.



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Virtual Training: Using Writebacks in the OPC Data Logger

By Tyler Lindsey on Dec 17, 2020 2:00:00 PM

An often important task when logging important process data to a database or even to the cloud is verification that the data has been logged. This ensures that data has been successfully logged and will not be lost when overwritten in the downstream process.

In this video blog, we'll step through the configuration required in the OPC Data Logger for logging important process data to a database on condition related to a monitored item and how to perform a writeback to the OPC data source confirming the data has been successfully logged.



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Virtual Training: Flexible Logging of OPC Data to SQL & Azure SQL

By Tyler Lindsey on Dec 3, 2020 2:00:00 PM


With the advent of cloud-based solutions in every industry, it's only natural that you might need to migrate from a traditional locally-hosted SQL database for logging your process data to Azure. Fortunately, logging both to traditional SQL and Azure SQL are similar in many ways and OPC Data Logger makes it possible to log to both for OPC UA and DA data sources.

In this video blog, we'll review the basic setup and architecture for OPC Data Logger and then step through the configuration required for logging to SQL and Azure SQL from an OPC server.



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Video Tutorial: Convert OPC DA Servers to OPC UA using TOP Server

By Kevin Rutherford on Nov 19, 2020 2:00:00 PM


TOP Server for AVEVA™, formerly Wonderware provides connectivity to hundreds of device types and protocols, but that's not all.  With the TOP Server OPC Client Suite, it's also possible to use your existing classic OPC DA and OPC XML-DA servers with OPC UA clients.

In this video blog, I'll show you how to make a secure OPC UA connection from OPC UA clients supporting the Data Access profile to TOP Server for integrating process data from OPC DA Classic servers using the TOP Server OPC DA Client driver.  I cover the basics of connecting to your OPC DA server and making an OPC UA connection using an OPC UA test client.



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Tech Support Corner: Sharing XML Data With OPC Router

By Kevin Rutherford on Nov 12, 2020 2:00:00 PM


If you're following our blog posts on integrating XML data, we're discussing methods our tech support team suggests when asked how to integrate XML (eXtensible Markup Language) data with other systems such as OPC clients or servers, databases, devices or even the cloud.

Continuing this discussion on Integrating XML Data (part of our continuing Tech Support Corner blog series), this post covers how to integrate XML data with a variety of other systems including OPC clients and servers, databases, IIoT and more using the OPC Router. 



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Tech Support Corner: Sharing XML File Data With Cogent DataHub

By Win Worrall on Nov 5, 2020 2:00:00 PM


If you've read our other posts on sharing XML data, you'll remember that our tech support team regularly gets asked how to integrate XML (eXtensible Markup Language) data with other systems such as OPC clients or servers, databases, devices or even the cloud.

Continuing our discussion on Integrating XML Data (part of our continuing Tech Support Corner blog series), this post covers how to integrate XML data with a variety of other systems including OPC clients and servers, databases and more using the built-in scripting engine and interfaces of Cogent DataHub. 



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Tech Support Corner: Sharing XML File Data With Custom Applications

By Ganesh Kalipershad on Oct 29, 2020 2:00:00 PM


If you read our last post on sharing XML data, you may recall that our tech support engineers are regularly asked how to take data provided in an XML (eXtensible Markup Language) format (file or data stream) and share it with other systems such as OPC clients or servers, databases, devices or even the cloud.

In this Integrating XML Data sub-topic of our continuing Tech Support Corner blog series, this post covers how to easily integrate XML data with OPC systems when designing a custom developed application. 



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Tech Support Corner: Sharing XML File Data With Other Systems

By Kevin Rutherford on Oct 22, 2020 2:00:00 PM


A question our tech support engineers get asked quite regularly is how to take data stored in an XML (eXtensible Markup Language) file and share it with other systems such as OPC clients or servers, databases, devices or even the cloud.

Continuing our Tech Support Corner blog series, this post covers a high level review of what options are available for integrating XML file data with your other systems. As part of this series, we'll have supplemental posts on each of the options discussed covering how to use them in more detail. 



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Key New Features - OmniServer V3.2.0.5

By Kevin Rutherford on Oct 15, 2020 2:00:00 PM


As you may be aware, OmniServer is updated several times a year to add additional useful features and tools, and to resolve any known issues as part of our continuous improvement process.

In this post, I will cover updates and enhancements available in OmniServer V3.2.0.5 to help you with increased flexibility for implementing protocols and updates for OPC UA client connectivity for integrating all of your non-standard devices.



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Firewall Ports: There's More to It and Why Your IT Team Has Concerns

By Win Worrall on Oct 8, 2020 2:00:00 PM

In follow up to my teammate Marc’s post last week around OPC UA and network traffic, this week I’m going to explore firewall ports in more detail. My goal is to help you understand where IT is coming from when they get concerned about any open inbound ports on firewalls. There is more to it than the obvious which is why they ask a lot of questions. This is especially true when one is talking about a connection that is coming from outside the plant firewall, but also even when it’s a port between a business and a production network.

Through understanding more, you’ll be able to have collaborative discussions with your IT team, where you can weigh the risks with IT as your partner, look for options that address the risks, and accomplish the movement of data required to run your business in ways that address your application-specific security concerns.



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Tech Support Corner: When Your IT Team Asks about OPC UA and It's Potential Network Impact

By Marc Holbach on Oct 1, 2020 2:00:00 PM


The adoption of OPC UA technology continues to grow more with each passing year.  And for good reason.  OPC UA provides a means to encrypt data as it is transferred between client and server that other client interface options simply do not. But when it comes time to have that discussion with your IT department around whether they are going to let you run OPC UA inside the firewall on a network, they likely will have concerns centered around common IT concerns in networks. 

Continuing our Tech Support Corner blog series, this post covers some common concerns that our support engineers have encountered from process engineers collaborating with their IT department about OPC UA client's and servers running on their network and the factors to consider in those discussions. 



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How to Convert MQTT Client Data to OPC

By Win Worrall on Sep 24, 2020 2:00:00 PM


As you may already be aware, the Cogent DataHub has a wide range of flexible connectivity options between different data sources such as MQTT, OPC UA, OPC DA, ODBC, DDE and so much more.  MQTT client and broker functionality in particular allow DataHub to integrate MQTT data sources with HMI, SCADA, MES, historian and other systems that don't natively support MQTT.

In this next installment of our Cogent DataHub Virtual Training series, we will cover step-by-step how to easily connect 3rd party MQTT clients to the DataHub MQTT broker and convert their data for access by your own systems with OPC UA or OPC DA client capabilities.



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Integrating RESTful Web Services with OPC and SQL

By Marc Holbach on Sep 17, 2020 2:00:00 PM

Access to various industrial data via RESTful web services is increasingly becoming necessary in this era of inter-connectivity and big data. From sources such as 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 RESTful web services.

In this video training blog post, we will cover step-by-step how to easily connect to and consume data from RESTful web services and then push that data to OPC and SQL systems with the OPC Router.



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Need to Export LGH File Data from a Remote InTouch System?

By Marc Holbach on Sep 10, 2020 2:00:00 PM


Many of the great questions in life begin with the word ‘where’. Where do we come from? Where are we going? Where should I install my LGH File Inspector?

While I cannot provide a whole lot of input on the first two questions, I do have some suggestions on where to install your LGH File Inspector.

In this Tech Support Corner blog post, we will explore some common factors that we have seen impact, or drive, the ideal placement of an LGH File Inspector installation – a question that we get quite commonly from users like you.



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Using MQTT to Stream OPC data to Digital Twins in Azure IoT Hub

By Win Worrall on Sep 3, 2020 2:00:00 PM


Cogent DataHub is always expanding its wide range of flexible connectivity options between different data sources such as MQTT, OPC UA, OPC DA, ODBC, DDE and so much more.  With the advent of IIoT and its increasing adoption across industries, connectivity to various traditionally non-IIOT data sources via MQTT is key.

If you're not familiar with the concept of a virtual or digital twin, it's the idea of virtual modeling a physical asset or system.  Ultimately, the key motivators for creating digital twins is having the ability to accurately model and predict what will happen with the real-world physical equivalent of that digital twin.  Digital twins are extremely beneficial towards predictive analytics used for pro-active maintenance and process optimization across industries.

In this next installment of our Cogent DataHub Virtual Training series, we will cover step-by-step how to easily connect and push data from OPC data sources to digital twins in the Azure IoT Hub including how to optionally do so through a network DMZ (DeMilitarized Zone) using an additional DataHub as a proxy server for even greater security.



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Video How-To: Connect Non OPC-UA Clients to UA Servers with TOP Server

By Kevin Rutherford on Aug 27, 2020 2:00:00 PM


While TOP Server for AVEVA™, formerly Wonderware provides connectivity to hundreds of device types and protocols, that is only part of how TOP Server helps with integrating industrial process data with external software such as AVEVA™ System Platform, formerly Wonderware and other client applications.

You're likely aware that TOP Server is an OPC UA server.  But TOP Server can also act as an OPC UA client for integrating with other OPC UA servers, as well.  For situations where you have a UA server to integrate but your client does not support OPC UA, but does support one of TOP Server's other client interfaces, TOP Server can be the gateway solution. This is especially valuable for AVEVA users who wish to keep using AVEVA Suitelink, OPC DA, or have not migrated to a version of AVEVA applications that support OPC UA Client functionality. 

In this video blog, I'll show you how to make a secure OPC UA connection from TOP Server to other OPC UA servers supporting the Data Access profile.  We cover the basics of configuring the OPC UA Client driver in TOP Server and making an OPC UA connection to another OPC UA server.



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Converting an OPC DA Server to OPC UA with DataHub OPC Gateway

By Win Worrall on Aug 20, 2020 2:00:00 PM


Cogent DataHub enables a wide range of flexible connectivity options between interfaces for different data sources such as OPC UA, MQTT, OPC DA, ODBC, DDE and so much more.  This is why we commonly refer to DataHub as a "gateway", as it is frequently utilized for data integration by external software such as HMI, SCADA, MES, historians and other client applications, including for IIoT integration.

In Part 1 of our Cogent DataHub Virtual Training series, we will cover step-by-step how to easily connect OPC UA (Data Access Profile) client applications to your OPC DA Classic server data sources.



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How to Develop Custom OPC Clients with Minimal Code

By Ganesh Kalipershad on Aug 13, 2020 2:00:00 PM

As we discussed in the first post of this series, the term "OPC client" often refers to off-the-shelf HMI or SCADA applications.  OPC clients can also be other custom developed software applications in your enterprise that could benefit from access to OPC process data.  Or there might be a new custom application you need to develop that requires access to OPC process data.  In those situations, you need a reliable, straightforward method to enable those applications as OPC clients.

In Part 2 of our series on How to Develop Custom OPC Clients, we will cover step-by-step how to use low-code techniques to read, write and subscribe to OPC process data through building a basic OPC client application in Visual Studio.NET.



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Top 4 Benefits of Using a Hardware Key with OmniServer

By Kevin Rutherford on Aug 6, 2020 2:00:00 PM


Software-based licensing is a commonality among software solutions across all industries, not just industrial process control.  It's flexible, doesn't require physical shipping and is very reliable. But some system architectures can ultimately benefit from another licensing option - hardware keys.

Hardware key licensing is invaluable for high-availability systems for a number of reasons.  We've recently expanded licensing support in OmniServer, the proven OPC solution for integrating non-standard devices that don't have an off-the-shelf driver, to include optional hardware key support.

In this blog post, we'll cover the key reasons that hardware key licensing is beneficial for many OmniServer users.



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How to Develop Custom OPC Clients with No Code

By Ganesh Kalipershad on Jul 30, 2020 2:00:00 PM

When you hear the term "OPC client", you may initially think of off-the-shelf HMI or SCADA applications.  However, it's common in enterprises across most industries for there to be other custom developed software applications that could benefit from access to OPC process data.  Or perhaps there is a new custom application you're working on that needs to access OPC process data.  The question, then, is how to enable those applications as OPC clients.

In Part 1 of our series on How to Develop Custom OPC Clients, we will cover step-by-step how to use no-code techniques to bind production data to various types of user interface elements for reading, or writing, or both to build a basic OPC client application in Visual Studio.NET.



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OPC Router Basic Training - Writing SQL Data to OPC Servers

By Marc Holbach on Jul 23, 2020 1:45:00 PM

As we discussed in Part 1 of our OPC Router Basic Training series, it is quite common for process industry projects to require logging of industrial process data to a database such as Microsoft SQL.  On the other side of the coin, it is also quite common for information such as recipes or other data to be stored in a database such as SQL and to then need to push that data down to process devices.

In Part 2 of the series, we will cover step-by-step how to write stored SQL data to OPC UA and DA servers based on flexible scripted trigger conditions with the OPC Router.



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5 Key Considerations For Choosing Tunneling Solutions for Remote OPC

By Win Worrall on Jul 16, 2020 2:00:00 PM


OPC continues to be the standard of choice for interoperability between software and hardware in the multi-vendor real world, with wide adoption of OPC DA Classic still in the majority compared to OPC UA. Accessing remote OPC Classic data sources (i.e. OPC clients and servers are on separate machines and, sometimes, even networks) can be challenging due to a reliance on Microsoft DCOM technology for security and authentication on remote OPC connections.

Anyone who has ever heard of or dealt with configuring DCOM security for remote OPC connections knows it has its challenges.  The good news is that there is an alternative to DCOM for remote OPC Classic connectivity - a solution referred to as OPC tunneling.  In the blog post, we'll discuss five of the key considerations to remember as you're evaluating the best OPC tunneling solution for your projects.



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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Top 7 Dream Report Features to Be Excited About in V5.0 R20-1

By Kevin Rutherford on Apr 9, 2020 2:00:00 PM


If you haven't used Dream Report previously, Dream Report is a real-time report generator and dashboard solution that is quickly and easily configurable for data collection, archival of data and alarms and also analysis.

In this post, we'll go through 7 key features of the V5.0 R20-1 release of Dream Report and how those features benefit existing and new Dream Report users.



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The Benefits of Secure Remote Access to Industrial Process Data

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

It can be tricky in this era of increasing cross-connectivity of anything and everything, from a lowly household appliance to IT/OT hybrid systems applying predictive analytics to an industrial process, to balance connectivity everywhere and the required security to mitigate cyber threats.  In the past, remote access to industrial process data often required network access to the actual HMI or SCADA system on the process network.  But why do you need network access to your SCADA system, when all you really need is just to access the data?

In this blog post, we'll discuss a few of the key benefits to having remote access to your industrial process data, which can be essential to making timely business decisions and discuss a flexible solution for enabling remote access without exposing your industrial process network to outside threats, including how to sign up for a free account for a limited time.



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Video Tutorial: Using OmniServer with Ignition SCADA via OPC UA

By Kevin Rutherford on Mar 26, 2020 2:00:00 PM


OmniServer's connectivity and data parsing capabilities are its primary job; however, they are only the part of how OmniServer helps with integrating non-standard devices with Inductive Automation's Ignition HMI/SCADA.  How does the device data actually make it into Ignition?

In this video blog, I'll show you how to make an OPC UA client connection from Ignition to OmniServer for integrating process data from all of your "other" devices that don't have a standard, off-the-shelf driver - and all without the expense and headaches of having to write custom code.



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Video Tutorial: Real-Time Collection for Mitsubishi Ethernet

By Kevin Rutherford on Mar 19, 2020 2:00:00 PM


If you're reading this, you likely have at least one Mitsubishi PLC being used in your industrial process and need to integrate data from that process.

In this video blog, I'll show you how to get started using our Mitsubishi Ethernet driver to connect and gather real-time process data from Mitsubishi PLCs for AVEVA formerly Wonderware applications.



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Accessing AVEVA formerly Wonderware Software from OPC UA Clients

By Kevin Rutherford on Mar 12, 2020 2:00:00 PM


Have you ever been in a situation where you were working with both AVEVA formerly Wonderware software 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 video blog post, we walk through step-by-step how to share your AVEVA formerly Wonderware software 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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Video Tutorial: Using Cogent DataHub with OPC UA Client Applications

By Kevin Rutherford on Mar 5, 2020 2:00:00 PM


Cogent DataHub enables a wide range of connectivity interfaces for different data sources such as OPC UA, OPC DA, ODBC, DDE and so much more.  As such, 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 make a secure OPC UA connection from OPC UA clients supporting the Data Access profile to DataHub for integrating process data from a myriad of data sources.



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Video Tutorial: Using TOP Server with OPC UA Client Applications

By Kevin Rutherford on Feb 27, 2020 2:00:00 PM


TOP Server for AVEVA™, formerly Wonderware connectivity to hundreds of device types and protocols is only part of how TOP Server helps with integrating industrial process data with external software such as AVEVA™ System Platform, formerly Wonderware and other client applications.  How does the device data actually make it into the client?

In this video blog, I'll show you how to make a secure OPC UA connection from OPC UA clients supporting the Data Access profile to TOP Server for integrating process data from the wide variety of device vendors and protocols that TOP Server supports.  We cover the basics of configuring the OPC UA server interface in TOP Server and making an OPC UA connection using an OPC UA test client.



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DataHub Enables Modular Procedural Automation at Air Liquide

By Win Worrall on Feb 20, 2020 2:00:00 PM


If you're unfamiliar with Modular Procedural Automation (MPA), it helps automate start-up, shutdown and other data-driven procedures in a process, increasing efficiency, optimizing production, and reducing wear and tear on equipment.  Additionally, MPA helps increase operator productivity and confidence.

Adapted from the case study in Control Magazine, this blog post covers how Air Liquide, a world leader in chemicals manufacturing, is migrating to MPA using OPC UA and OPC bridging to lower startup time by over 60% and increase production to over 500 additional tons of liquid oxygen (LOX) resulting in increased profitability.



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Video Tutorial: Using OmniServer with OPC UA Client Applications

By Kevin Rutherford on Feb 13, 2020 2:00:00 PM


OmniServer's connectivity and data parsing capabilities are only part of how OmniServer helps with integrating non-standard devices with external software such as HMI, SCADA, MES, historians and other client application.  How does the device data actually make it into the client?

In this video blog, I'll show you how to make a secure OPC UA connection from OPC UA clients supporting the Data Access profile to OmniServer for integrating process data from all of your "other" devices where there isn't a standard, off-the-shelf driver - all without the cost and effort of having to write a custom driver.



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Exploring OPC UA - Symmetric vs Asymmetric Encryption

By Marc Holbach on Feb 6, 2020 2:00:00 PM


In the first post of our ongoing Exploring OPC UA blog series, we covered the three functions that OPC UA Certificates (also known as Application Certificates) serve in the context of OPC UA security.

In this second post, we'll take a look at what happens to messages after you have trusted the application certificates and have enabled security on the OPC UA endpoint. Specifically, what does Sign&Encrypt mean on an endpoint and how can we be sure that the data is truly secure.



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New 2020 Automation & Control Software Learning Resources

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


It’s a new year and a new decade and, as everything moves faster, we all have to keep our knowledge and skills current.

In this blog post, we provide a quick reference to learning resources that users have told us were the most helpful to them over the course of the last year.

If you aren’t already subscribed to our blog, we encourage you to subscribe . We publish new content about once a week, sometimes more often, and you can control when you are notified of new content.



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Exploring OPC UA - OPC UA Certificate Basics

By Marc Holbach on Jan 23, 2020 2:00:00 PM


The use of certificates in cryptographic applications and online communication protocols is nothing new and can practically be traced all the way back to the 1970's when the "framework" for public key encryption (more on this in a future blog) came into being. With the (now-not-so-recent) Industry 4.0 movement coming out of Europe, and the design and operation changes brought about by the IIoT phenomenon, we are seeing more and more systems – that have traditionally been air-gapped and kept offline – being brought online to take advantage of the digital revolution in which we find ourselves.

Despite how you feel about this (r)evolution there are several exciting changes that are being brought about, including the one I want to discuss is the increased adoption of OPC Unified Architecture (OPC UA) in automation systems.

In this first post in our ongoing Exploring OPC UA blog series, we will look at what OPC UA Certificates are and what they provide and subsequent posts will further explore how they are used in OPC UA, how they fit into the security ‘stack’ of OPC UA and will then look at how OPC UA Certificates are utilized and managed in several Software Toolbox applications. First thing’s first however; what are OPC UA Certificates and what are they used for?



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Lower Your Non-Standard Protocol Configuration Time by Up to 40%

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


Those of you even somewhat familiar with OmniServer are likely aware that OmniServer is frequently 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.

Over the past several years, we've been working to evolve the OmniServer user experience with the goal of making it easier and more efficient to build a non-standard protocol/driver.

In this video blog post, we will step through the most powerful features of the new visual protocol editor for OmniServer, demonstrating the key enhancements to the user experience that will make integrating your non-standard devices easier and faster than ever.



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Tech Support Corner: DCOM Resources for Easier Troubleshooting

By Kevin Rutherford on Jan 9, 2020 2:00:00 PM

DCOM security and its headaches continue to be a popular support topic - our DCOM tutorial videos consistently receive the most visits each month.  Speak to any OPC Classic user in the industrial automation space and they always have their own horror stories about fighting the woes of DCOM.

In our continuing Tech Support Corner blog series, this blog post provides you with a high-level review of the troubleshooting resources we make available to our users including a DCOM companion checklist that can be used with our DCOM tutorials.



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Key TOP Server for Wonderware V6.8 Features to Be Excited About

By Kevin Rutherford on Dec 19, 2019 2:00:00 PM


You more than likely just received one of my emails recently or possibly heard from a colleague about our latest TOP Server release.  Either way, you'll want to continue reading about the new features in TOP Server V6.8 for Wonderware.

In this post, I'm going to go through some of the key features released in V6.8 in more detail, including the continued focus on the highest level of security, updates for ControlLogix firmware support, enhancements to the Torque Tool Ethernet driver, EFM driver updates, DNP3 updates and more, including how they benefit you as a TOP Server user.



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Tech Support Corner: TOP Server Basics and Quick Start

By Kevin Rutherford on Dec 12, 2019 2:00:00 PM


If you're a new TOP Server for AVEVA (formerly Wonderware) user, or just a user that's been away from TOP Server for awhile, perhaps you need a quick refresher on how to get around in TOP Server.

Continuing our Tech Support Corner blog series, this video blog post covers the basic components of TOP Server and how to familiarize yourself with using TOP Server via the simulation project that installs with TOP Server. If you're looking for more advanced or driver specific TOP Server videos, visit the TOP Server Video Library



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OPC UA PubSub and 4 More Key Updates in OPC Data Client 2019.2

By Ganesh Kalipershad on Dec 5, 2019 2:00:00 PM


With the recently released 2019.2 (5.56) version of the OPC Data Client Toolkit, developers of OPC UA custom client applications can now add the latest extension to the OPC UA specifications, PubSub, short for Publish-Subscribe, to their applications. This version also brings items of value for developers of any type of OPC client application, and also highlights some updates from a 2019.1 release we did last month to prepare for this big release.

In this blog post, we will cover the most significant updates to OPC Data Client and how they will benefit you and your custom OPC client projects.



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Top 5 Dream Report Features to Be Excited About in V5.0 R19-3

By Kevin Rutherford on Nov 21, 2019 2:00:00 PM


If you've used Dream Report, you know it is a real-time report generator and dashboard solution and how quickly and easily configurable it is for data collection, archival of data and alarms and also analysis.

In this post, we'll go through five key features of the V5.0 R19-3 release of Dream Report and how those features benefit existing and new Dream Report users.



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Phone & Intercom Integration with HMI / SCADA

By Kevin Rutherford on Nov 14, 2019 2:00:00 PM


Another common non-standard device integration scenario that we encounter is integration of phone and intercom systems with the control system.  There is normally a control application provided by the system manufacturer but that adds another system that the user has to know, use and maintain.

In the next blog post of a series on OmniServer user stories, we’ll discuss a specific use case of a system integrator working with a correctional facility needing direct integration of their Telecor phone and intercom system with Wonderware.  And we'll discuss how OmniServer provided a driver to the Telecor system without the need for custom code, eliminating the need for an additional control application.



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Optimizing Heat Reclamation Process with OPC Data Logger

By Marc Holbach on Nov 7, 2019 2:00:00 PM


At Software Toolbox, we commonly hear from users seeking a solution for connecting and gathering data from this or that type of hardware.  Beyond that, though, is what users do with the data once they have it.  A common need is reliably logging process to a database such as Microsoft SQL server.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss a specific use case of a German R&D firm needing to collect data from multiple OPC data sources and log that data to a SQL database for further analysis geared towards a pilot project developing a model for optimizing Combined Heat & Power Partnership (CHP) technology for transferability to many enterprises where heat and power generation are essential to the process.



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Direct Printer Integration with MES and HMI / SCADA

By Kevin Rutherford on Oct 31, 2019 2:00:00 PM


A common non-standard device integration scenario that we encounter is needing to integrate devices that are not currently automated in any way.  There is some manual process to send data to or retrieve data from these devices which, as always, introduces greater risk of error due to human factors.

In the next blog post of a series on OmniServer user stories, we’ll discuss a specific use case of a user in consumer packaged goods needing to automate printing directly from Wonderware using data from their MES system.  And we'll discuss how OmniServer provided a driver without the need for custom code, eliminating their inefficient manual printing process.



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Tech Support Corner: Adding Drivers to an Existing TOP Server Install

By Kevin Rutherford on Oct 24, 2019 2:00:00 PM


If you're a TOP Server for Wonderware user, it's possible you've gone to configure a channel using a driver you've never used before but couldn't find it in the available driver list.  This can be confusing, especially if you weren't the user that installed TOP Server.  It is, however, an easy fix.

Continuing our Tech Support Corner blog series, this video blog post covers how to easily add additional drivers to an existing TOP Server install from the long list of available drivers.



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Video Tutorial: Key New Features - OmniServer V3.1.0.9

By Kevin Rutherford on Oct 17, 2019 2:00:00 PM


As part of our continuous improvement process at Software Toolbox, OmniServer is updated several times a year to add additional useful features and tools, and to resolve any known issues.

In this video blog, I will cover updates and enhancements available in OmniServer V3.1.0.9 to help you with flexibility and testing while connecting to all of your non-standard devices.



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Integration of Weight Data to Wonderware with OmniServer

By Kevin Rutherford on Oct 10, 2019 2:00:00 PM


Another common device integration scenario that we frequently encounter at Software Toolbox is needing to make weight data from a scale, weigh bridge or other weighing equipment available in an HMI or SCADA such as Wonderware.  Whether it's manufacturing, food and beverage or other industries, weight data is, for all intents and purposes, very similar regardless of what is being weighed.

In this second blog post of a series on OmniServer user stories, we’ll discuss a specific use case of a food and beverage producer needing to integrate their GSE scale data with Wonderware and SQL and how OmniServer provided a driver without the need for custom code.



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LGH History Data Facilitates Predictive Maintenance

By Marc Holbach on Oct 3, 2019 2:00:00 PM


If you're interested in LGH history data and are reading this, you likely have your own use case for working with InTouch LGH history files.  Given that LGH files are a classic method for InTouch users to log historical process data, the use cases for LGH history data are similar to any other use cases for historical data.  Trending and predictive analytics can be key methods that utilize historical data for identifying process issues and resolving them in an efficient and cost-effective manner.

This blog post covers a specific use case involving an engineering research student working on a condition and performance monitoring system for subsea hydraulic systems targeted at identifying the health of the system and supporting predictive maintenance.



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Direct Control of Zebra Label Printers from HMI / SCADA

By Kevin Rutherford on Sep 26, 2019 2:00:00 PM


One of the most common device integration scenarios that we encounter is needing to control a printer and/or label applicator directly from an HMI or SCADA such as Wonderware.  And printers can be tricky, with most having similar but still different communication protocols - so how does one account for that kind of variability?

In this first blog post of a series on OmniServer user stories, we’ll discuss a specific use case of a paper products manufacturer needing direct control of their printing and labeling process directly from Wonderware and how OmniServer provided a driver without the need for custom code.



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Top 4 Dream Report Features to Be Excited About in the V5.0 R2 Release

By Kevin Rutherford on Sep 19, 2019 2:00:00 PM


As you are probably aware, Dream Report is a real-time report generator and dashboard solution that is quickly and easily configurable through an easy-to-use interface with flexible options relating to not only collection and archival of data and alarms but also for analysis.

In this post, we'll go through four key features of the V5.0 R2 release of Dream Report and how they benefit existing and new Dream Report users.



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Video Tutorial: Real-Time Collection for Omron NJ & NX Controllers

By Kevin Rutherford on Sep 12, 2019 2:00:00 PM


If you're reading this, you likely have at least one Omron NJ or NX Series controller being used in your industrial process and need to integrate data from that process.

In this video blog, I'll show you how to get started using our Omron NJ/NX Ethernet driver to connect and gather real-time process data from Omron NJ and NX controllers for Wonderware applications.



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