Software Toolbox Technical Blog

2 min read

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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4 min read

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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3 min read

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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5 min read

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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3 min read

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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1 min read

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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4 min read

Migration to State Based Control Increases Production via OPC UA

By Kevin Rutherford on Sep 5, 2019 2:00:00 PM


If you're unfamiliar with state based control, it's a process automation design that essentially defines that all process facilities should operate in a recognized, definable state with previously defined normal and abnormal conditions with defined actions for each.  State based control is intended to allow company's in virtually any process industry to greatly reduce factors of human error and inconsistency, significantly increasing the efficiency of all processes.

In this blog post, we cover how a large chemicals manufacturer migrated to state based control using OPC UA and increased their efficiency, production levels and profitability as a result.



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4 min read

How to Log Data From Your S7-1500 via OPC UA using OPC Data Logger

By Tyler Lindsey on Aug 29, 2019 2:00:00 PM


With the relatively recent availability of OPC UA server capabilities in Siemens S7-1500 PLCs, access to live production data is now open to third-party applications. As a result, those applications can now communicate with hardware that was formerly locked behind proprietary communication drivers.

The OPC Data Logger's OPC UA client interface allows users to quickly and easily connect to S7-1500 PLC’s and log data to their preferred data storage option without the need for intermediate applications. This blog post covers the high-level steps involved with logging data from an S7-1500 controller and you can then download the free hands-on guide with detailed steps.



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4 min read

Easy-to-Use Interactive Reports and Dashboards Helps Minimize Downtime

By Kevin Rutherford on Aug 22, 2019 2:00:00 PM


In the industrial automation industry, more and more companies are looking for ways to increase profitability through minimizing downtime and the lost productivity associated with it.

In this blog post, we discuss how actively monitoring and tracking downtime occurrences can empower you to reduce or even eliminate such productivity-killing situations.



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3 min read

OPC Data Logger Features to Be Excited About in the V3.7.0.1 Release

By Marc Holbach on Aug 15, 2019 2:00:00 PM


As you are probably aware, OPC Data Logger is an OPC lab-certified solution for dynamic, event driven logging of process data to standard SQL/ODBC databases, including Microsoft Azure SQL, or text/CSV files.  As part of the continuous improvements process for OPC Data Logger, we have regular product releases that provide updates to existing features and new functionality.

In this blog post, I'll cover some flexible new features that you may not be aware of from our most recent releases of the OPC Data Logger available now in V3.7.0.1.



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2 min read

Video Tutorial: Real-Time Collection for Siemens S7 Ethernet

By Kevin Rutherford on Aug 8, 2019 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.

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 Wonderware applications.



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5 min read

Did You Know? OmniServer Can Integrate Most Printers with Your Process

By Marc Holbach on Aug 1, 2019 2:00:00 PM


Whether your role is IT or OT, there tends to be an almost universal dislike of having to work with printers. It is likely, for this exact reason, that when tasked with integrating a printer (be it a laser jet printer for labelling packaging, or a label printer to track your products) many users are simply forgoing the integration completely.  That might mean opting for limited integration with a PLC on the line or simply choosing to not integrate at all while continuing to make any configuration changes manually.

In this blog post, continuing our OmniServer Did You Know series, we’ll discuss several methods that users have implemented over the years when needing to use printers in a process and how OmniServer provides an off-the-shelf, easy-to-use alternative for direct integration of most printers with your process control systems.



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5 min read

Tech Support Corner: How Application Reports Help Us Help You

By Kevin Rutherford on Jul 25, 2019 2:00:00 PM


If you're a TOP Server for Wonderware user, I won't assume that you've ever had the need to contact Software Toolbox for a technical support issue.  I've spoken with users over the years who indicated that after they installed TOP Server for their particular device type, it just worked and had been running with no issues ever since.

However, it's always best to be prepared for the worst case scenario in most situations.  To that end, it's a good idea to know what tools are at your disposal should you ever have any issues with TOP Server for Wonderware requiring you to contact our knowledgeable technical support engineers.



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4 min read

Tech Support Corner: To Format or Not to Format OmniServer Items

By Kevin Rutherford on Jul 18, 2019 2:00:00 PM


In case you're not familiar with OmniServer, it is a user-configurable I/O server solution that you can configure through a user-friendly interface to communicate with various devices that do not already have off-the-shelf drivers written for them.

A question that our support engineers at Software Toolbox sometimes receive from both new and veteran OmniServer users alike is whether an item in the OmniServer sequence builder, which is used to build the send and/or receive message for a device protocol, requires a formatting code or not.

Continuing our Tech Support Corner blog series, this blog post covers under what situations a formatting code is required for an item defined in the OmniServer sequence builder of a protocol and when a code isn't required.



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4 min read

Keeping Process Control Decision Makers in the Know

By Win Worrall on Jul 11, 2019 2:00:00 PM


If you've heard of the Cogent DataHub, you may be aware that it supports email and/or SMS notifications of defined conditional events based on a variety of data from it's various supported interfaces (MQTT, OPC UA, OPC DA, DDE, ODBC and more).  Having the right people receive alerts (such as when a tank has reached a critical level or a critical piece of machinery is offline) in a timely fashion can be the difference between simple downtime and a major liability.

This blog post will discuss how to use variable distribution lists in conjunction with the Cogent DataHub's Email/SMS capabilities to ensure the right decision makers will always receive important notifications as quickly as possible.



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6 min read

Key TOP Server for Wonderware V6.7 Features to Be Excited About

By Kevin Rutherford on Jun 27, 2019 2:00:00 PM


Hopefully you received one of my emails or possibly heard from a colleague about our latest TOP Server release.  If not, you may not have heard about the key new features in TOP Server for Wonderware V6.7.

In this post, I'm going to go through some of the key features released in V6.7 in more detail, including a continued focus on security enhancements, updates to the Configuration API capabilities, enhancements to the Torque Tool Ethernet driver and more, including how they benefit you as a TOP Server user.



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3 min read

Latest OPC Data Logger Features to Be Excited About in the Current Release

By Kevin Rutherford on Jun 20, 2019 2:00:00 PM


As you may be aware, OPC Data Logger is an OPC lab-certified solution for dynamic, event driven logging of process data to standard SQL/ODBC databases, including Microsoft Azure SQL, or text/CSV files.  The wizard-based interface provides easy, flexible configuration that easily scales for project both large and small.

In this blog post, I'll cover some exciting new features that you may not be aware of from recent releases that are available in the current version.



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5 min read

Turning Data into Information for More Informed Decisions

By Kevin Rutherford on Jun 13, 2019 2:00:00 PM

With industrial processes, it's only possible to manage what is being effectively measured.  Without keeping tabs on key metrics in a process, you'll never be able to determine if the efficiency of the process is getting better or worse.

In this short blog post, we'll discuss the progression from raw process data to information to the actions that can be taken and decisions that can be made using that information.  We'll also discuss how the context (or how you're looking at data) can affect the information you're consuming.



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5 min read

Tech Support Corner: DCOM Horror Story - Part 2 - Locked Out With No Key

By Kevin Rutherford on May 30, 2019 2:00:00 PM

DCOM Security and the headaches it tends to create are undoubtedly familiar to any OPC Classic user in the industrial automation industry. Stories about experienced DCOM woes are just part of the territory.

In this second part of a "DCOM Horror Stories" sidebar to our continuing Tech Support Corner blog series, this blog post covers a DCOM user scenario where the user was a little too thorough in locking down their DCOM configuration, resulting in a locked out system. And it includes a reminder of options that help you avoid DCOM configuration altogether.



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3 min read

Top 3 Dream Report Features to Be Excited About in the V5.0 Release

By Kevin Rutherford on May 23, 2019 2:00:00 PM


You may or may not be familiar with Dream Report - a real-time report generator that is quickly and easily configurable via a very easy-to-use interface with a ton of flexibility relating to not only collection and archiving of data and alarms but also for analysis and options for report generation.

In this post, I'll review three of the top features released in the recent V5.0 release of Dream Report and how they benefit you, either as an new or existing Dream Report user.



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6 min read

Tech Support Corner: DCOM Horror Story - Part 1 - When Cortana Loses Her Voice

By Kevin Rutherford on May 16, 2019 2:00:00 PM

Any OPC Classic user in the industrial automation industry has almost certainly had their interactions with Windows DCOM security.  And most, if not all, are stories that we all shake our heads at and nod in understanding of the difficulties of traversing the pitfalls of DCOM security configuration.

In this first part of a "DCOM Horror Stories" sidebar to our continuing Tech Support Corner blog series, this blog post covers a DCOM user scenario involving the Microsoft Windows Cortana search capabilities being sidelined by DCOM security misconfiguration. Additionally, it covers what options are out there for avoiding DCOM entirely for situations like this.



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3 min read

Improving Productivity and Profitability with Faster, More Consistent Decisions

By Kevin Rutherford on May 9, 2019 2:00:00 PM

To manage a process well, it's about more than just producing.  It's necessary to measure how efficiently that process is producing.  A process increases in profitability as it runs more efficiently (producing the same amount using the least amount of resources).

In this short blog post, we'll discuss some of the metrics or key performance indicators (KPIs) that should be available for a particular process and how measuring those KPIs can increase the profitability of your operations.  And we'll discuss how you probably already have the raw data sitting there and how you can turn that raw data into actionable information.



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10 min read

Did You Know? OmniServer Supports CSV Import/Export

By Kevin Rutherford on May 2, 2019 2:00:00 PM


OmniServer's main purpose is enabling connectivity without custom code for devices that use ‘non-standard’ protocols to communicate such as weight scales, barcode readers, and printers.  And OmniServer does that in a more efficient and cost-effective manner than writing custom code.

Furthering the goal of efficiency and cost-effectiveness, you may or may not be aware that OmniServer supports CSV import and export for speedy configuration of many things including topics, devices and, in the actual protocol itself, items, registers, topic variables and even messages.  On larger projects, this provides a substantial time savings.

In this post continuing our "OmniServer Did You Know?" blog series, we will cover how to use CSV import and export in OmniServer to facilitate faster configuration on larger protocol implementations.



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3 min read

Tech Support Corner: Defining a TOP Server Administrator Password

By Kevin Rutherford on Apr 25, 2019 2:00:00 PM


If you're a TOP Server for Wonderware user, you may or may not be aware of the built-in User Manager that allows you to define user roles and associated permissions when accessing your TOP Server configuration.  As security continues to be a key focus for many process industries, keeping your process communications secure is as important as ever.

Continuing our Tech Support Corner blog series, this blog post covers how TOP Server for Wonderware now prompts users to specify an Administrator password during the installation process to ensure your TOP Server is as secure as possible.



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5 min read

Tech Support Corner: Virtualization Best Practices for TOP Server for Wonderware

By Kevin O'Connor on Apr 18, 2019 2:00:00 PM


If you're familiar with the term high availability, then you're also more than likely at least aware of virtualization environments such as VMWare and Hyper-V.  As computer hardware specifications have grown exponentially over the years, virtualization is more and more becoming the norm for hosting of automation control systems.

A common question that our support engineers at Software Toolbox receive from new and veteran TOP Server for Wonderware users alike is whether TOP Server supports virtual environments, which ones and what are the best practices.

Continuing our Tech Support Corner blog series, this blog post covers best practices with respect to using TOP Server for Wonderware in virtualization environments such as VMWare and Hyper-V.



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7 min read

Preview the Future of Non-Standard Protocol Creation

By Kevin Rutherford on Apr 11, 2019 2:00:00 PM


If you're familiar with OmniServer, you know that OmniServer is frequently used for accessing 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.

With the advent of touchscreen technology and the increasing availability and familiarity with drag-and-drop functionality across computer systems and applications, we feel it is important to evolve the OmniServer user experience to be more inline with current technologies and user expectations regarding ease-of-use.

In this blog post, we will cover a visual protocol builder we've been working on for OmniServer, showing you the key enhancements to the user experience that will make integrating your non-standard devices easier than ever.  And you'll be given the chance to request more information and consideration for our new beta program.



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8 min read

Tech Support Corner: "It has to work, I can ping it, right?"

By Marc Holbach on Apr 4, 2019 2:00:00 PM


As you are probably aware, the Ping command is one of the most widely used diagnostics tool when troubleshooting communication issues on Ethernet networks. I would accredit this popularity to the fact that everyone knows how to use the command, it's extremely simple to execute, and the results are not really open to interpretation (i.e. it either works or it doesn’t); or are they?

When troubleshooting communication issues, the most common line we hear when something isn’t working is “but I can ping it” as if this alone should serve as definitive proof that everything is working as expected and the communications server is choosing to not communicate.

Continuing our Tech Support Corner blog series, this blog post covers some common misconceptions about the Ping command, particularly how it can be used efficiently, and when it may not be the best tool for the task, as well as, better alternatives to Ping that actually provide actionable data.



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5 min read

Tech Support Corner: Did You Know about TOP Server Language Support for German, Chinese and Japanese?

By Kevin Rutherford on Mar 28, 2019 2:00:00 PM


Our technical support engineers at Software Toolbox work with users like you from around the globe to keep their TOP Server for Wonderware implementations running with the highest performance and reliability possible.  Yet, many engineers pride themselves on their ability to self-help, as well.

To that end, in a continuance of our "Tech Support Corner" blog series, I'd like to review TOP Server localized language support for German, Japanese and Chinese that is included with TOP Server.  For our users whose primary language is not English living in regions speaking one of the supported localized languages, I'll show you how to take advantage of this support to enhance your overall user experience and self-help journey.



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1 min read

Video Tutorial: Real-Time Collection for Omron FINS Ethernet

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


If you're reading this, you likely have at least one Omron 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 Omron FINS Ethernet driver to connect and gather real-time process data from Omron FINS Etheret PLCs for Wonderware applications.



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5 min read

Tech Support Corner: Why You Need Your TOP Server Emergency ID

By Kevin O'Connor on Mar 14, 2019 2:00:00 PM


If you're a TOP Server for Wonderware user, when you ordered your license, you've always received a serial number, a Permanent Activation ID and an Emergency Activation ID.  But what is your Emergency Activation ID used for, exactly?

Continuing our “Tech Support Corner” blog post series, this blog post covers why your TOP Server Emergency Activation ID is important, how to use it and what to do when you need to then re-register your permanent activation.



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7 min read

How to Integrate Your S7-1500 via OPC UA using TOP Server for Wonderware

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


In recent years, many of our users have let us know they are adopting the latest Siemens technology, particularly S7-1500 controllers.  And, with that adoption of those controllers, users have been asking for connectivity via the symbolic optimized block addressing.  So we added a Siemens Plus Suite to enable connectivity to new and legacy Siemens devices.

This post focuses specifically on the general steps required to integrate S7-1500 controllers by connecting to their embedded OPC UA server using TOP Server for Wonderware.



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7 min read

3 Reasons to be Excited About LGH File Inspector 2.0 for Wonderware LGH File Analysis

By John Weber on Mar 1, 2019 8:14:50 AM

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 2.0, user feedback on how they use the tool has been incorporated to add functionality in three major areas: Flexibility, User Experience, and Global User Support.

In this blog post, we review what’s new and why you want to upgrade to Version 2.0, and how you can upgrade.



Topics: Wonderware CSV LGH
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2 min read

Video Tutorial: Redundant OPC Connectivity with Cogent DataHub

By Win Worrall on Feb 21, 2019 2:00:00 PM


For many industries, where having access to process data is critical, it's common to implement redundancy on many levels to ensure there is no disruption to data collection.  While there are different levels of redundancy, the one we see users most interested in is with OPC data source redundancy.

The following short video blog demonstrates step-by-step just how easy it is to configure the Cogent DataHub to handle redundant failover between OPC UA data sources, OPC DA data sources and more.



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5 min read

Did You Know? How to Integrate Virtual COM Devices with OmniServer

By Kevin Rutherford on Feb 14, 2019 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.

However, with the advent of USB connectivity, many such devices that would have traditionally been a serial/COM device now physically connect to a machine via USB, instead.

Continuing our "OmniServer Did You Know?" blog series, we will cover how OmniServer can easily connect to USB or serial-to-Ethernet devices that are mapped virtually as Serial/COM devices.



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4 min read

Tech Support Corner: Using Wireshark as a Supplemental Troubleshooting Tool

By Kevin O'Connor on Feb 7, 2019 10:22:24 AM


You may or may not be aware that our technical support team at Software Toolbox maintains, updates and adds new content to an extensive knowledge base built from answers to all of your questions from over the years.  We like to frequently review which of our knowledge base articles have been used the most to see what users like you need help with and what is most relevant.

Continuing our Tech Support Corner blog series, this blog post covers the why's and how's of using the popular and powerful network analysis tool called Wireshark as an additional tool in your troubleshooting arsenal.



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1 min read

Video Tutorial: OPC to Azure IoT Hub with Cogent DataHub V9

By Win Worrall on Jan 31, 2019 2:00:00 PM


You've likely already heard about Cogent DataHub Version 9 and it's new MQTT integration capabilities.  The DataHub V9 MQTT Client goes beyond just generically connecting to MQTT Brokers by providing smart connectors for Azure IoT Hub, Google IoT and Amazon IoT Core MQTT Broker services.

The following short video blog demonstrates step-by-step how to easily configure the DataHub MQTT Client for publishing OPC UA and OPC DA data from DataHub to the Azure IoT Hub, as well as, pushing data from the many other data sources supported by Cogent DataHub (such as ODBC, DDE, Modbus and more).



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2 min read

Video Tutorial: Configuring DataHub V9 as an MQTT Broker

By Win Worrall on Jan 24, 2019 2:00:00 PM


As you are likely already aware, Cogent DataHub Version 9 expands the assortment of data sources you can integrate to include IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) with MQTT (Message Queuing Telemetry Transport) support.  As with its many other supported data sources (such as OPC), DataHub V9 can act as both a "client" and a "server" for MQTT - with a "server" being an MQTT broker.

The following short video blog demonstrates how truly easy it is to configure the DataHub MQTT Broker for acting as a "gateway" between MQTT Clients in your IIoT cloud and other supported interfaces including OPC, DDE, ODBC and many other data sources.



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4 min read

New 2019 Automation & Control Software Learning Resources

By Kevin Rutherford on Jan 22, 2019 2:00:00 PM


The New Year is a time of renewal, new projects, new challenges, and for some of you, new roles, or new people on your teams.

In this blog post, we provide a quick reference to resources from the past year that should be helpful to you and your colleagues.  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 about new content.



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1 min read

Video Tutorial: Publishing and Subscribing to MQTT Brokers with Cogent DataHub V9

By Win Worrall on Jan 17, 2019 2:00:00 PM


With the release of Cogent DataHub Version 9, we've expanded the multitude of data sources you can integrate to include IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) with MQTT (Message Queuing Telemetry Transport) support.

The following short video blog demonstrates step-by-step just how easy it is to configure the DataHub MQTT Client for publishing data from DataHub to any MQTT Broker, as well as, subscribing to data from any MQTT Broker for integration into your systems via DataHub's supported interfaces (such as OPC).



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5 min read

Cogent DataHub V9 Provides Secure Remote Configuration Built In

By Win Worrall on Jan 10, 2019 2:00:00 PM


While Cogent DataHub is, of course, primarily known for its extensive connectivity interfaces, just as important is how you, the user, are able to intuitively use and configure the functions in DataHub, both locally and remotely.

In this first blog post of a detailed series on specific DataHub Version 9 features, I'll provide insight into the new Remote Configuration capabilities and show you how Cogent DataHub V9 provides a secure, reliable and easy-to-use configuration experience locally and remotely.



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8 min read

Did You Know? How to Test OmniServer Protocols Prior to Building Your Client Application

By Kevin Rutherford on Jan 3, 2019 2:00:00 PM


When working with non-standard protocols based on protocol documentation from a device vendor, there will always be some expected amount of testing, trial-and-error and troubleshooting in order to fine tune communications with a device.

Continuing our "OmniServer Did You Know?" blog series, this blog post focuses on how to use the built-in Item Values window in the OmniServer diagnostic tools and the included OPC Test Client to test communications using OmniServer.



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5 min read

Tech Support Corner: Answers to Your Questions about TOP Server OS and Version Support

By Kevin O'Connor on Dec 20, 2018 2:00:00 PM


The technical support team here at Software Toolbox maintains an extensive knowledge base built from answers to all of your questions from over the years.  Each month, we like to review which of our knowledge base articles have been used the most to see what users like you need help with.

With our monthly series called “Tech Support Corner”, we will bring you those most popular answers with additional helpful details and tips.  This month’s blog post covers the ins and outs of TOP Server operating system support by version, including how to identify your support/maintenance expiration, the importance of applying support/maintenance renewals and more.



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12 min read

Demystifying Modbus Function Codes

By Kevin Rutherford on Dec 13, 2018 2:00:00 PM


With the wide range of devices that use Modbus for their communication protocol, you'll find many different interpretations, terminology and labels with respect to how to access different types of data in those devices.  Sometimes a device manual might only refer to the supported Modbus function codes and the range of offsets available for those function codes.

In this blog post, I will step through the specifics of Modbus function codes and how they pertain to addressing, and how they affect what addresses to use in TOP Server for Wonderware applications.



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1 min read

LGH File Inspector Enhances Global Log File and Time Support

By Marc Holbach on Dec 6, 2018 2:00:00 PM

The LGH File Inspector is used for many different application types as a way for users to gain added value from Wonderware InTouch local history or LGH files.  With our global user base, it’s common to have different time zone and time format requirements.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss some key enhancements in the LGH File Inspector Version 1.4.2 release that increase flexibility for users with unique time zone and time format needs.



Topics: Wonderware CSV LGH
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5 min read

Key TOP Server V6.6 Features to Be Excited About

By Kevin Rutherford on Nov 15, 2018 2:00:00 PM


If you haven't received one of my emails or heard from a colleague about our latest TOP Server release, you may not have heard about the key new features in TOP Server V6.6.

In this post, I'm going to go through some of the key features released in V6.6 in more detail, including further security enhancements, a new EUROMAP 63 driver, enhanced CNC machine access, telemetry performance, and how they benefit you as a TOP Server user.



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6 min read

OPC Data Client Development Toolkit Update – UA Platforms, Security, & Interoperability

By John Weber on Nov 13, 2018 10:00:00 AM


The 2018.3 release of the OPC Data Client toolkit continues to make OPC UA client development easier, more secure and interoperable, while continuing to support OPC DA, A&E, and XML-DA development.

In this blog post I have taken the release notes and boiled it down to the key benefits that might drive you to upgrade, get back on support, renew support, or, if you’re new to OPC client development, try our OPC Data Client toolkit.



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7 min read

Did You Know? How to Recover from Device Errors with OmniServer Error Messages

By Kevin Rutherford on Nov 7, 2018 2:00:00 PM


With any communication server for collecting process data, there has to be a reliable mechanism built-in for dealing with error responses from the underlying devices.  This is true even for OmniServer as a user-configurable communication server.

Continuing our "OmniServer Did You Know?" blog series, this blog post focuses on how to use error messages and notification items in an OmniServer protocol to properly handle error responses or conditions received from your non-standard process devices.



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4 min read

Cogent DataHub V9 Adds IoT to OPC Connections, Remote Config, & More

By Win Worrall on Oct 31, 2018 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 new V9 takes our saying that "once the data is in DataHub, it can go anywhere" to a new level with IoT connectors and more as listed below.

In this blog post, I'll provide insight into these new features and show you how Cogent DataHub delivers secure, scalable, integrated connections within and between your plants, to the cloud and beyond.



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3 min read

Automated KPI Reporting Helps Maximize Your Productivity

By Kevin Rutherford on Oct 25, 2018 2:00:00 PM


In the industrial automation industry, more and more companies are looking for progressively better tools to enable their employees to gain insights and improve their business decisions.

In this blog post, we discuss how KPIs and how they’re generated can empower your employees to make smart business decisions to improve your company’s performance results.



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1 min read

Video Tutorial: Key New Features - OmniServer V3.1.0.5

By Kevin Rutherford on Oct 18, 2018 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 V3.1.0.5 to help you with usability, performance and troubleshooting while connecting to all of your non-standard devices.



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6 min read

Demystifying Modbus Register Addressing with TOP Server for Wonderware

By Kevin Rutherford on Oct 11, 2018 2:00:00 PM


I'm sure you've all at least had some interaction with Modbus, working in the automation industry.  It's one of the most widely used protocols (if not the most widely used) in the world.  Which is both its blessing and its curse, to some extent.

Given how long Modbus has been around and in use as an "open" protocol (starting in 1979), there have been many different interpretations of Modbus throughout the years.  And with those different Modbus interpretations, much confusion about the different terminology for accessing data.

In this blog post, I will step through the basics of Modbus addressing including how offsets come into play, and how they affect what addresses to use in TOP Server for Wonderware applications.



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4 min read

Did You Know? How to Setup Chained Messages in OmniServer

By Kevin Rutherford on Oct 4, 2018 2:00:00 PM


In a nutshell, OmniServer's purpose is to retrieve information from devices that use ‘non-standard’ protocols to communicate such as weight scales, barcode readers, and printers.

Sometimes with some protocols, simply sending one message to a device, or doing nothing but simply transferring data to a client isn't enough. There are some more complex protocols where you will need to send a series of messages to the instrument, or respond to an event coming in from the device or to handle a sequence of handshaking messages. This is where "chained messages" come into play in an OmniServer protocol.

In this second post of a follow-up to our "OmniServer Did You Know?" blog series, we will cover how to chain multiple OmniServer command/request messages together in a protocol to flexibly handle such complex protocols.



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5 min read

Comprehensive EFM Data Collection and Export for PGAS, Flow-Cal, CSV & Database

By Kevin Rutherford on Sep 27, 2018 2:00:00 PM


If you're reading this post, you're more than likely working in the oil and gas industry, and you probably have flow computers and devices from different vendors storing historical EFM (Electronic Flow Measurement) data.  And, if your company is anything like the other companies in that industry, you use that EFM data for analysis, custody transfer and production optimization using one of the common EFM flow measurement analysis packages such as Flow-Cal, Quorum PGAS or even CSV or SQL.

In this blog post, I'll cover the video how-to resources available to help you get started using our EFM Suite for TOP Server to poll and export collected EFM data from various flow computers for Wonderware applications.



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5 min read

Did You Know? How to Setup a Heartbeat Message in OmniServer

By Kevin Rutherford on Sep 20, 2018 2:00:00 PM


As you probably know, OmniServer is used to retrieve information from devices that use ‘non-standard’ protocols to communicate such as weight scales, barcode readers, and printers.

In some situations, device protocols need to be designed to where the client application (HMI, SCADA or other), and not OmniServer, is in complete control of the polling. But before you send out the next message, how do you know if the device is still connected?

In this first post of a follow-up to our "OmniServer Did You Know?" blog series, we will cover how to create what is known as a heartbeat message to confirm your device is "listening" before sending the next message.



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3 min read

Linux MES to OPC Operations Data Integration in Aluminum Smelting Operation

By John Weber on Sep 13, 2018 2:00:00 PM


Recently we worked with an aluminum smelter operation that has doubled in size since it first opened and has made a significant positive impact on the local economy by supplying aluminum to local industries which has fueled their growth.

Like any growing business, this user is always seeking ways to improve operations and reduce risk of downtime. In the end they need to deliver returns to their shareholders while continuing to support the local community, all of which requires consistent predictable operational results.  In this blog post, we'll cover how they used an off-the-shelf solution for integrating varied systems to reduce life cycle costs.



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2 min read

Video Tutorial: EFM Export for PGAS, Flow-Cal & Generic CSV and Database

By Kevin Rutherford on Sep 6, 2018 2:00:00 PM


If you're in the oil and gas industry, you're aware that, flow computers and devices from different vendors store historical EFM (Electronic Flow Measurement) data that is used for analysis, custody transfer and production optimization.  To that end, oil and gas companies use several EFM flow measurement analysis packages such as Flow-Cal, Quorum PGAS or even CSV or SQL to store and analyze that collected EFM data.

In this video blog, I'll show you how to get started using our EFM Exporter plug-in for TOP Server to poll and export collected EFM data from various flow computers for Wonderware applications.



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1 min read

Video Tutorial: Using OmniServer with Wonderware Historian via SuiteLink

By Kevin Rutherford on Aug 30, 2018 2:00:00 PM


OmniServer's connectivity and data parsing capabilities are only part of how OmniServer helps with integrating non-standard devices with Wonderware.  How does the device data actually make it into Wonderware?

In this video blog, part of a series on connecting Wonderware to OmniServer, I'll show you how to make a basic SuiteLink connection from Wonderware Historian to OmniServer for historizing 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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1 min read

Video Tutorial: Using OmniServer with InTouch via SuiteLink

By Kevin Rutherford on Aug 23, 2018 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 Wonderware.  How does the device data actually make it into Wonderware?

In this video blog, part of a series on connecting Wonderware to OmniServer, I'll show you how to make a basic SuiteLink connection from Wonderware InTouch 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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3 min read

Namibia Brewing – Enterprise Data Integration Update & Award

By John Weber on Aug 16, 2018 2:00:00 PM


Earlier this year, we shared the story of how Namibia Breweries Ltd is using off-the-shelf open OPC software in their operations management system.  In that story, we shared how we had learned making beer in one of the world’s driest places takes some unique approaches to power sourcing, water management, and really all resources.

We visited with Namibia Brewing again recently when they attended the X-Change 2018 conference in the beautiful Central Drakensberg region of South Africa.   I had the chance to sit down with Annemarie Kruger, Renaldo Du Pisani, and Andre Engelbrecht and, in this blog post, you'll learn about how they have continued to evolve their system since I visited their site in 2017.



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1 min read

Video Tutorial: EFM Collection for OMNI Flow Computers

By Kevin Rutherford on Aug 9, 2018 2:00:00 PM


If you're reading this, you're probably aware that, in the oil and gas industry, flow computers and devices from different vendors store historical EFM (Electronic Flow Measurement) data that is used for analysis, custody transfer and production optimization.  OMNI Flow computers are frequently used EFM devices for both gas and liquid EFM applications.

In this video blog, I'll show you how to get started using our OMNI Flow Computer driver to connect and gather real-time and EFM data from OMNI Flow Computers for Wonderware applications.



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4 min read

Top 5 Dream Report Features to Be Excited About in the Current Release

By Kevin Rutherford on Aug 2, 2018 2:00:00 PM


In case you aren't familiar with the Dream Report reporting solution from Ocean Data Systems, Dream Report is a real-time report generator that is quickly and easily configurable via a very easy-to-use interface with a ton of flexibility relating to not only collection and archiving of data and alarms but also for analysis and options for report generation.

In this post, I'm going to go through five of the key features released in 2018 for Dream Report and how they benefit you, either as an existing Dream Report user or as a process industry professional looking at reporting solutions.



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1 min read

Video Tutorial: Using OmniServer with System Platform via SuiteLink

By Kevin Rutherford on Jul 26, 2018 2:00:00 PM


While OmniServer's core connectivity and data parsing abilities are its primary function, they are only the first step to integrating non-standard devices with Wonderware.  How does that device data then make it up into Wonderware?

In this video blog, part of a series on connecting Wonderware to OmniServer, I'll show you how to make a basic SuiteLink connection from Wonderware System Platform to OmniServer for integrating process data from all of your "other" devices that don't have a standard, off-the-shelf driver - all without the expense and headaches of having to write custom code.



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1 min read

Video Tutorial: Using OmniServer with System Platform via OPC

By Kevin Rutherford on Jul 19, 2018 2:00:00 PM


OmniServer's core connectivity and data parsing abilities are only part of the equation when integrating non-standard devices with Wonderware.  How does that device data then make it up into Wonderware?

In this video blog, part of a series on connecting Wonderware to OmniServer, I'll show you how to make a basic OPC DA connection from Wonderware System Platform to OmniServer for integrating process data from all of your "other" devices that don't have a standard, off-the-shelf driver - all without having to write custom code.



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1 min read

Video Tutorial: EFM Collection for ABB Totalflow

By Kevin Rutherford on Jul 12, 2018 2:00:00 PM


In the oil and gas industry, flow computers and devices from different vendors store historical EFM (Electronic Flow Measurement) data that is used for analysis, custody transfer and production optimization.  ABB Totalflow flow computers are frequently used EFM devices for both gas and liquid EFM applications.

In this video blog, I'll show you how to get started using our ABB Totalflow driver to connect and gather real-time and EFM data from Totalflow meters for Wonderware applications.



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7 min read

Three Key Ways Dream Report provides ROI through Business Intelligence

By Kevin Rutherford on Jun 28, 2018 2:00:00 PM


Today’s automation professional is tasked not only with continuous improvement of the automated processes he or she is responsible for, but also doing it with less resources and a lower budget. Labor is expensive and over-tasked.

With all of the core business tasks an engineer faces today, they simply may not have the time to sift through the all of the options available in the marketplace for gathering “business intelligence”.

A key buzz term used in the front office of many companies, business intelligence needs on the automation side of an enterprise are centered around Industrial applications. While business intelligence tools are great at dealing with counts and currencies, automation processes need that and more.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss the three main reasons to have a business intelligence solution and, also, the three key ways that Dream Report delivers nicely on the greater needs of hybrid industrial/business data analytics requirements to provide business intelligence for making key decisions regarding a process to save time, money and expenses.



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9 min read

Top 5 TOP Server V6.5 Features to Be Excited About

By Kevin Rutherford on Jun 21, 2018 2:00:00 PM


If you haven't received one of my emails or heard from a colleague about our latest TOP Server release, you may not have heard about the key new features in the TOP Server V6.5 release.

In this post, I'm going to go through the top 5 key features released in V6.5 in more detail and how they benefit you as a TOP Server user.



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2 min read

Video Tutorial: Getting Started with the OmniServer Topic Wizard

By Kevin Rutherford on Jun 14, 2018 2:00:00 PM


For the past few releases, OmniServer has had a powerful usability enhancement that you may not be aware of - a Topic Wizard – which was designed to increase your efficiency and the ease of getting started when you're working with OmniServer to integrate your non-standard process devices.

For new users, the new Topic Wizard in OmniServer Version 3 and above should feel very intuitive and lessen the learning curve if you've never touched an OmniServer before. Even for existing users, the wizard is very user-friendly and users will likely appreciate the time-savings made possible by being able to step through a wizard to configure your communications.

In this video, I step you through the very easy process to configure your OmniServer to communicate with your non-standard devices using the Topic Wizard.



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5 min read

Industrial Information Portals & Decision Support Trends Drive Needs for More than Spreadsheets

By John Weber on Jun 7, 2018 2:00:00 PM

It is well known and accepted that, to manage a process, we need to measure the results of that process.  If we start measuring the production output of a machine, the people responsible for running and maintaining that machine are more likely to pay attention and take the necessary decisions to improve its performance.

Every business with any focus on continuous improvement has some system that works for them and has evolved as they have traveled their journey. Some use paper, some use paper and spreadsheets, others use custom solutions, and others use some form of off-the-shelf software.

For over 20 years we’ve helped users get the digital data they have into these various systems, but in the process of doing that, we’ve heard some things from them and seen some patterns we will share in this blog post.



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2 min read

Video Tutorial: Conditional Logging to Database from Non-Standard Devices

By Kevin Rutherford on May 31, 2018 2:00:00 PM


OmniServer Wedges are included with OmniServer Professional Edition.  Wedges are built-in components providing additional useful capabilities that expand the functionality of OmniServer beyond its core connectivity and data parsing abilities for non-standard devices.

The OmniServer Database Wedge allows you to log your device data to any ODBC-compliant database, including SQL, with a highly configurable format and flexible conditions.  And this ability is built into OmniServer, eliminating the need for separate external components or applications.

In this video blog, I'll show you how to get started using the OmniServer Database Wedge to easily log process data based on specified conditions, making it possible to monitor trends in your process and easily report on your process data or troubleshoot any issues that are discovered.



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1 min read

Video Tutorial: EFM Collection for Fisher ROC

By Kevin Rutherford on May 24, 2018 2:00:00 PM


In the oil and gas industry, flow computers and devices from different vendors store historical EFM (Electronic Flow Measurement) data that is used for analysis, custody transfer and production optimization.  Emerson / Fisher ROC flow computers are frequently used EFM devices for both gas and liquid EFM applications.

In this video blog, I'll show you how to get started using our Fisher ROC Suite to connect and gather real-time and EFM data from ROC meters for Wonderware applications.



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4 min read

Building Custom CRCs for Non-Standard Protocols

By Kevin Rutherford on May 17, 2018 2:00:00 PM


If you’ve been following our blog series on custom error detection, you’ll remember that OmniServer provides a large number of pre-defined Error Detection Codes (EDC) for use in different protocols for non-standard device communication.  And, again, it’s not uncommon to find an EDC from a vendor that is not pre-defined due to some specialized handling by the device manufacturer.

As we covered in our previous posts on creating a custom checksum and LRC, OmniServer gives you the ability to build custom EDCs in an OmniServer protocol to handle these situations.  This post, the final of three on custom Error Detection Codes, covers the basics steps to creating a custom CRC (Cyclic Redundancy Check) in an OmniServer protocol.



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1 min read

Video Tutorial: EFM Collection for Enron Modbus

By Kevin Rutherford on May 10, 2018 2:00:00 PM


Common in the oil and gas industry, flow computers and devices store historical EFM (Electronic Flow Measurement) data used for analysis, custody transfer and production optimization.  Enron Modbus, which is a version of the open Modbus protocol, is a frequently used communication protocol by many EFM devices including but not limited to Schneider SCADAPack, ThermoScientific AutoPilot, Cameron NuFlo Scanners and many others.

In this video blog, I'll show you how to get started using our Enron Modbus driver to connect and gather real-time and EFM data from Enron Modbus devices from Wonderware applications.



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2 min read

Video Tutorial: Conditional Logging to Text File from Non-Standard Devices

By Kevin Rutherford on May 3, 2018 2:00:00 PM


OmniServer Wedges, included with OmniServer Professional Edition, are built-in components providing powerful, supplemental capabilities that expand the functionality of OmniServer beyond its core connectivity and data parsing abilities for non-standard devices.

The OmniServer File Wedge allows you to log your device data to any text file, including CSV, with a highly configurable format and flexible conditions.  And this ability is built into OmniServer, eliminating the need for separate external components.

In this video blog, I'll show you how to get started using the OmniServer File Wedge to easily log process data based on specified conditions, making it possible to monitor trends in your process and easily troubleshoot any issues that are discovered.



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4 min read

Building Custom LRCs for Non-Standard Protocols

By Kevin Rutherford on Apr 19, 2018 2:00:00 PM


You may be aware that OmniServer provides a wide variety of pre-defined Error Detection Codes (EDC, also known as CRC, LRC and Checksums) for use in protocols for non-standard device communication.  However, it’s not uncommon to find an EDC that isn’t pre-defined due to some specialized handling by the device manufacturer.

To handle such situations, OmniServer provides the ability to build your own custom EDCs in an OmniServer protocol.  This post, the second of three on custom Error Detection Codes, will cover the basics of creating a custom LRC (Longitudinal Redundancy Check) in OmniServer.



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1 min read

Video Tutorial: Easy Integration of Your OPC DA/UA Data with MS Excel

By Win Worrall on Apr 5, 2018 2:00:00 PM

With DDE (Dynamic Data Exchange) fast becoming obsolete technology (Microsoft superseded DDE with OLE years ago), OPC DA and, more recently, OPC UA data sources have become the primary go-to for process data integration.  Recently, Microsoft even disabled certain DDE functionality in MS Office applications due to security concerns and malware exploitation targeting the DDE interface.

But the usefulness of MS Excel for data analysis across many industries even today is still undeniable and the primary mechanism for MS Excel to connect to a data source is via DDE.  So what do you do if you're still using MS Excel for process data analysis and reporting via DDE?  What's the alternative?

The following short video blog demonstrates step-by-step how to easily read/write data from process data sources (OPC DA and OPC UA Servers) using MS Excel (without DDE) with the Cogent DataHub.



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2 min read

Video Tutorial: Sending Email/Text Notifications from Non-Standard Devices

By Kevin Rutherford on Mar 29, 2018 2:00:00 PM


OmniServer Wedges, which are included with OmniServer Professional Edition, are built-in components that provide powerful, supplemental capabilities that expand the functionality of OmniServer beyond its core connectivity and data parsing abilities for non-standard devices.

The OmniServer Email Wedge allows you to send your device data as an email message or text in a highly configurable format with configurable conditions.  And it provides this ability built into OmniServer, eliminating the need for separate external components.

In this video blog, I'll show you how to get started using the OmniServer Email Wedge to send timely email or text notifications to your key personnel based on specified conditions, allowing those individuals to quickly take the appropriate action to minimize any related loss or downtime that might occur.



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1 min read

Video Tutorial: Integrating IIoT Data using MQTT

By Kevin Rutherford on Mar 22, 2018 2:00:00 PM


The Message Queue Telemetry Transport (MQTT) standard is a lightweight publish/subscribe model communications protocol used widely for Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) integration of edge devices across a wide variety of industries around the world.

In this video blog, I'll show you how to get started using our MQTT Client driver to interface to an MQTT broker or server (including devices acting as a broker or server) to integrate data from your IIoT data into Wonderware applications.



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4 min read

Building Error Detection Codes for Custom Protocols

By Kevin Rutherford on Mar 15, 2018 2:00:00 PM


If you’ve worked with OmniServer to connect your non-standard devices in the past, you may be aware of the large number of pre-defined Error Detection Codes (EDC, also known as CRC, LRC and Checksums) available.  However, as is the nature of custom protocols out there, it’s not uncommon to find an EDC that isn’t pre-defined due to some specialized handling by the device manufacturer.

To that end, OmniServer provides the flexibility to define your own custom EDCs in an OmniServer protocol.  This post, the first of three on custom Error Detection Codes, will cover the basics of creating a simple custom checksum in OmniServer.



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1 min read

Video Tutorial: Tracking the Health of Your Servers

By Win Worrall on Mar 8, 2018 2:00:00 PM

Knowledge is power and knowing the current state of your underlying server hardware for your process can be very powerful indeed.  Keeping a pulse on information like CPU usage, available memory, memory consumption by a process and whether or not critical process are still running can be the difference between hours of downtime with thousands of dollars in lost production and being able to proactively avoid any downtime.

The following short video blog demonstrates step-by-step how easy it is to use the Cogent DataHub to monitor vital system statistics on your servers that can be shared in real-time via supported client interfaces such as OPC DA and OPC UA or even send email/SMS notifications.



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7 min read

Namibia Breweries Ltd leverages off-the-shelf OPC software for sustainable manufacturing in a tough environment

By John Weber on Mar 1, 2018 2:00:00 PM


When you live in a remote region that is one of the most arid places on earth, you import your raw materials, and you’re making millions of hectoliters of beer a year, you have to make the most of all the resources you have and leverage what is in abundance in your location.  Namibia Breweries Ltd. (NBL) has a long history of success in a tough environment at their Windhoek, Namibia location.  They have received numerous awards for their innovative approaches to meeting their information system needs.

In this blog post, we’ll share their look into how they use off-the-shelf software and their teams' intellectual know-how and creativity to empower their manufacturing success.  If you read the stories in Automation World or Pro Food World, you learned about how Andre Engelbrecht, manager of industrial control systems at NBL, and his team unlocked data sources and built a digital smart manufacturing platform across the entire facility.  In this article, we’re going to share the rest of the story of NBL’s integration points, problems solved, and how they leveraged Software Toolbox’s full value proposition as part of their team effort.



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1 min read

Integration of Vibration Monitoring Hardware into HMI, SCADA, MES, & Historians

By John Weber on Feb 21, 2018 2:00:00 PM


Software Toolbox has worked with integrators, users, OEMS and distributors of Wonderware Software products since 1997.  At a Schneider Electric Software conference in 2017, they met a hardware supplier new to the Wonderware user community, Test Products International, also known as TPI.  It turns out TPI is not new to the vibration monitoring space, though, and has a long history of providing handheld test and measurement equipment. In this video blog...



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4 min read

3 Reasons to Be Excited about OPC Data Client 2018.1 Release

By John Weber on Feb 14, 2018 2:00:00 PM


Our latest release of the OPC Data Client development toolkit provides some exciting new features for leveraging powerful OPC UA technology features including OPC UA complex data support.

In this post, we will cover some of the key reasons the OPC Data Client 2018.1 is an easy, effective method for bringing the power of OPC UA to your custom client applications.



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7 min read

Did You Know? Four Key OmniServer Tips For Easier Protocol Creation

By Kevin Rutherford on Feb 8, 2018 2:00:00 PM


As someone who has worked with non-standard device connectivity using OmniServer for over 10 years, I sometimes take for granted the knowledge that I have gained over that time.  If you're anything like me, once you figure out the data you need from your device's protocol document, you just want to get your protocol knocked out as quickly as possible so you can start communicating.

In this post, I'm going to cover 4 key tips that I've learned over the years when working in OmniServer to build a protocol that you may not have realized and that could add convenience and save you a lot of time, which is time you can be spending on other important tasks.



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5 min read

Your Data Logger Wouldn’t Just Throw Away Data. Or Would It?

By Marc Holbach on Feb 1, 2018 2:00:00 PM


What is the most important feature for any data logger to have? At the end of the day, we are trusting a data logger to take our data and store it.  Now whether that is for reporting, optimization, legal reasons, or simply to retain process data over some period of time in case it might be needed later, we expect the data to be logged without any losses.

This is particularly true in the industrial automation space, where the amount of data that is being logged is growing almost as exponentially as the speed at which the data is needed in order to have a business impact. As such, the prospect of losing data can very quickly result in lost jobs, thousands of dollars in lost production, and legal or financial penalties in case of an audit.

So how much do you trust your data logger to really be logging 100% of the data that it should be? In this blog post, I will address these concerns and highlight the ways OPC UA provides capabilities that software applications can leverage to provide peace of mind.



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1 min read

Video Tutorial: Sending Email & SMS Alerts Triggered by Process Values

By Win Worrall on Jan 25, 2018 2:00:00 PM

Timely notifications about abnormal conditions in your process are vital to minimizing downtime and the costs associated with it.  Automating the process based on the condition of specific process variables gets you the information you need for making decisions as quickly as possible.

The following short video blog demonstrates step-by-step how easy it is to use the Cogent DataHub to establish a connection to an OPC data source and then define various flexible conditions for triggering email and/or SMS text notifications based on values collected from that OPC server.



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5 min read

Automation & Control Software Learning Resources for the New Year

By Kevin Rutherford on Jan 18, 2018 2:00:00 PM


The New Year is a time of renewal, new projects, new challenges, and for some of you, new roles, or new people on your teams.  The last year has been one where our team has grown and worked to deliver the relevant content you need to learn more about software for automation & control, how to use our products, and the type of problems we solve.

In this blog post, we’ll provide a quick review of some key items from the last year that can help you or your colleagues in the coming year.  If you aren’t already subscribed to our blog, we encourage you to subscribe. We publish new content at least once a week, sometimes more often, and you can control the frequency of when you are notified of new content.



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7 min read

How to Connect, Integrate, or Communicate between Control Systems

By Colin Winchester on Jan 11, 2018 2:00:00 PM

Our Automation 101 blog series is designed to help professionals that are new to the industrial automation space whether at the start of their careers, or moving into the operations technology (OT) world from an IT or other background.

One of the common challenges in Industrial Integration is communications between different brands or manufacturers’ control devices (PLC, DCS, Drives, RTUs, smart sensors).  While most control devices have methods of communication, and some industry standards have helped, they don’t all communicate using the same methods or protocols, and even if they both have the same serial or Ethernet wiring the difference in communication protocols prevents them from passing information.  It’s the same problem you have if someone calls you on the phone, but doesn’t speak the same language.

While, as humans, we may be able to overcome a difference in dialect, machine communication has to be precise and exact.  Small differences in addressing or data formatting can be enough variation to create communications failure. So how do people overcome this challenge?



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8 min read

How to Connect a Non-Standard Device with No Code

By Kevin Rutherford on Jan 4, 2018 2:00:00 PM


l ask you to remember back to our blog post last month where took the information we pulled from a device’s protocol document (in the prior month's blog) and created a custom protocol in OmniServer.  As you’ll recall, our protocol has now been designed.

But how do you go about testing the protocol and proving that it works? This final post in the series takes you through the steps of getting connected and actually troubleshooting your OmniServer protocol.



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6 min read

How to Implement a Custom Protocol for a Non-Standard Device with No Code

By Kevin Rutherford on Dec 21, 2017 2:00:00 PM


So remember in our blog post last month where you just have a protocol document from the manufacturer for a device you need to integrate with your control system?  And for this new device, there is no existing, off-the-shelf connectivity driver or server available.

And remember asking yourself, “How do I connect to this non-standard device?”  With custom software development being very expensive and time-consuming, we discussed a better way using OmniServer.

This post, the second of three, goes beyond the protocol details we gathered from the document in our blog post last month to provide the basics on how to actually use those details to build a working protocol in OmniServer without custom code for a fast, affordable solution with industry-standard client interfaces including as OPC DA and UA.



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4 min read

Top 3 TOP Server V6.4 Features to Be Excited About

By Kevin Rutherford on Dec 14, 2017 2:00:00 PM


If you haven't received one of my emails or heard from a colleague about our latest TOP Server release, you may not have heard about the key new features in the TOP Server V6.4 release.

In this post, I'm going to go through the top 3 key features released in V6.4 in more detail and how they benefit you as a TOP Server user.



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11 min read

Can your OPC systems tell you when something is wrong?

By Win Worrall on Dec 4, 2017 4:23:13 PM

In this edition of OPC Talk with Win and Marc, we’re going to discuss when things go wrong and how do you know?  No matter what OPC software you’re using, there are many things that can happen that could cause system problems.  Most people would rather know about a problem before it ruins their day, week, month, or career, right?



Topics: OPC
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7 min read

Enabling System Health Tracking in OT Software Applications

By Win Worrall on Nov 30, 2017 2:00:00 PM


The heart of any control system is the computers and servers that run your automation software.  For example, when PLCs talk to AC drives over Ethernet, the drives will shut down if they lose communications for more than a second, sometimes even milliseconds.  Drives shutdown = Line shutdown = Plant shutdown.  What IT calls a blip for plant operations can mean downtime, scrapped product and even your company’s reputation due to missed delivery deadlines.

Traditionally, server maintenance and upkeep is the role of IT.  However, when these systems go down, it affects operations (OT) with different pains than IT sees on the business side.  IT has systems to monitor their own assets, on the standards they need for the business, but they need the OT side to expand monitoring of their own systems and self-reliance in order for OT to meet operational needs, while bringing in IT as a resource.

This blog post will discuss how to get information about health of servers and PCs that runs the automation software OT users need without having to rely solely on IT.



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7 min read

Got OPC Redundancy Questions?

By Win Worrall on Nov 28, 2017 4:00:00 PM

In this edition of OPC Talk with Win and Marc, we’re going to address some common questions we get about redundancy involving OPC software.  If you’re new to the industrial automation space and want to learn more about redundancy in automation in general, visit our Demystifying Redundancy in Automation blog post.



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5 min read

Yes, You Can Integrate Business & Other Databases with Control Systems

By Win Worrall on Nov 16, 2017 2:00:00 PM


It is common for companies to use databases for long-term storage of their critical information.  In our experience, we also see machine setup information, short term operational data and much more besides traditional historical data put into shop floor databases in the operations technology or “OT” world.

Over on the business side or the “IT” world, everything somehow ends up in a database: Production plans, forecasts, orders, it’s all there.  Increasing business demands and IT/OT convergence are driving more real-time integration between these databases and control systems.

This blog discusses some of the key reasons users like yourself need this information and then shows how the DataHub can help move this data from a database to your control systems via OPC DA, OPC UA, Modbus and other interfaces or protocols that are common in the automation layer.



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5 min read

OPC Data Client Toolkit Update Speeds OPC UA, DA, A&E, XML Client Development

By Colson Dunlap on Nov 15, 2017 11:30:00 AM

I’m excited about the recent release of the OPC Data Client development toolkit – and you should be too if you’re an active developer of custom OPC Client software applications. This post is highly technical, but hopefully our developer readers will find it useful.



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3 min read

What is OPC – 10 Frequently Asked Questions & Answers

By Win Worrall on Nov 14, 2017 4:00:00 PM

We’ve been working with the OPC software interoperability standards since 1996, and it’s easy to forget that others who are new to this space often find the whole discussion around the OPC standard and all the different standards confusing. 



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10 min read

Your Protocol Document and Integrating a Non-Standard Device

By Kevin Rutherford on Nov 9, 2017 2:00:00 PM


So you've been tasked with bringing data from a new device (maybe a weigh scale or barcode scanner or RFID system) into your HMI/SCADA system.  But you just have a protocol document from the manufacturer.  And for this new device, there is no existing, off-the-shelf connectivity driver or server available.

So what now? Do you contact a custom software development house?  That gets very expensive and time-consuming very quickly.

This post, the first of three, goes through what to look for in that protocol document from the manufacturer to know how to begin using OmniServer to integrate your device without requiring custom code in a fast, affordable manner that provides industry-standard client interfaces such as OPC DA and UA.



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6 min read

Get It Your Way with DataHub

By Win Worrall on Nov 2, 2017 2:00:00 PM


What's "It"?  The "it" can mean a lot of things. What we mean is solving software and information integration challenges the way YOU want to solve them, and not being totally limited by the fill in the blank configuration settings in software. 

Whether you are a system integrator or a sophisticated user, you know there are times where fill-in-the form software configuration makes things easy, but can also constrain you.  Whether it's scability of large configurations, enhancing existing product features to satisfy YOUR NEEDS, or even adding functionality to a product, you don't like being limited by fill-in-the blank software.  

The most powerful functionality of the Cogent DataHub is its balance between fill-in the blank quick configuration for most users, and the freedom to "Get it YOUR WAY" for others.  Cogent DataHub does this through the free scripting engine that is included in every license. 



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5 min read

Logging Smarter - Dynamic Table Selection at Runtime

By Marc Holbach on Oct 26, 2017 2:00:00 PM


Does your data logging software force you to define the location where you're logging your data ahead of time?  Wouldn’t it be nice if your logging software could evaluate your data and make a decision on where the data should be logged?

In this first of two posts in a series on dynamic SQL logging, I'll show you how the OPC Data Logger can easily be configured to switch between SQL Tables at runtime, reducing any post-log sorting you have to do in SQL and saving you time and effort in the process.



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1 min read

Video Tutorial: Using Topic Variables in an OmniServer Protocol

By Kevin Rutherford on Oct 19, 2017 2:00:00 PM


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

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



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7 min read

Ensuring Maximum OPC Server Availability

By Win Worrall on Oct 12, 2017 2:00:00 PM


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

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

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



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8 min read

Demystifying Redundancy in Automation

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


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

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

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



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5 min read

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

By Kevin Rutherford on Sep 28, 2017 2:00:00 PM


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

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



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7 min read

Making Your Smart Phone Smarter with Email/SMS Alerts

By Win Worrall on Sep 21, 2017 2:00:00 PM


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

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

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



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6 min read

Logging Only The Data You Need When You Need It

By Marc Holbach on Sep 14, 2017 2:00:00 PM


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

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



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5 min read

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

By Win Worrall on Sep 7, 2017 2:00:00 PM


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

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



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1 min read

Video Tutorial: Using Translations in an OmniServer Protocol

By Kevin Rutherford on Aug 31, 2017 2:00:00 PM


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

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



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5 min read

Break Down Your Obstacles to OPC Standard Interoperability

By Win Worrall on Aug 24, 2017 2:00:00 PM


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

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



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5 min read

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

By Kevin Rutherford on Aug 17, 2017 2:00:00 PM


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

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



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1 min read

Video Tutorial: Using Registers in an OmniServer Protocol

By Kevin Rutherford on Aug 10, 2017 2:00:00 PM


A Register Number is a time-saving special OmniServer element that allows you to configure one item that is requesting the same type of memory or offset in a device instead of one item for each memory or offset location.

In this video blog, I show you how to get started using registers to more efficiently build an OmniServer protocol without having to manually create an item for every piece of data whenever possible.



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4 min read

TOP Server V6.2 for Wonderware - Mitsubishi Ethernet Expanded Model Support

By Kevin Rutherford on Aug 3, 2017 2:00:00 PM


There are several useful updates available with TOP Server V6.2.  In case you missed it, I did a high-level post giving you an overview of the four biggest features from the V6.2 release - click here to see that post.

Today, I'd like to give you a more detailed review of the current model support available in the Mitsubishi Ethernet driver in TOP Server V6.2.  Keep reading to find out about new device model support and previous read and write performance enhancements that also apply for these newest models of Mitsubishi controllers.



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6 min read

Did You Know? OmniServer Topic Variables Can Turn One Protocol into 100

By Kevin Rutherford on Jul 27, 2017 2:00:00 PM


Do you have a multitude of non-standard devices with unique identifiers such as a Device IDs or Node IDs that must be sent as part of all protocol messages to communicate with each device?  If so, you could certainly accomplish this by hard coding your Device/Node IDs as part of each message in your OmniServer protocol and simply have a separate protocol for each device.

But OmniServer has a better way:  Topic Variables.  In this sixth post in our “OmniServer Did You Know?” blog series, you'll learn how to use Topic Variables to create one flexible protocol that you can use across any number of devices using the same communication protocol.



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1 min read

Video Tutorial: Integrating Wellsite Equipment using WITS Protocol

By Kevin Rutherford on Jul 20, 2017 2:00:00 PM


The Wellsite Information Transfer Specification (WITS) is a communications format used for the transfer of a wide variety of wellsite data from one computer system to another.  This oil/gas industry standard is recognized by a number of companies internationally and is supported by many hardware devices and software applications used at wellsites around the globe.

In this video blog, I show you how to get started using our communications driver for WITS Level 0 Active protocol to integrate data from your wellsite devices into Wonderware applications.



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4 min read

Did You Know? You Can Initialize Your Device with OmniServer

By Marc Holbach on Jul 13, 2017 2:00:00 PM


Does your non-standard instrument connected to your COM1 serial port refuse to communicate without being told how? Do you need to tell the instrument what bank of memory to use before you can extract any data? Does the instrument require setup parameters before it will work? Do you not want to script this in your client application, and don’t want to expect a user to manually initialize a device before doing anything else?

With OmniServer, there is an auto-activated message flag that's exactly the feature you have been looking for when communicating with your non-standard devices and instrumentation.  This fifth post in our "OmniServer Did You Know?" blog series focuses on how to use OmniServer's setting for auto-activating a command protocol message to initialize communications with your device automatically on startup.



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7 min read

Have CODESYS V3 Devices? TOP Server V6.2 for Wonderware

By Kevin Rutherford on Jun 29, 2017 2:00:00 PM


There are some great new updates now available with TOP Server V6.2.  In case you missed it, I did a high-level post giving you an overview of the four biggest features from the V6.2 release - click here to see that post.

In this post, I'll give you a more detailed review of the updates to the new CODESYS Ethernet driver in TOP Server V6.2.  Used extensively by controller manufacturers when creating custom firmware isn't scalable, CODESYS continues to grow in usage globally. Keep reading to find out more about specific features of the CODESYS Ethernet driver.



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4 min read

Did You Know? Monitoring OmniServer Polling Statistics

By Marc Holbach on Jun 22, 2017 2:00:00 PM


A common question I run into when talking to OmniServer users is "How can I gain more visibility into what is going on with my OmniServer."  After all, a primary concept for an OPC Server is to be invisible – to be a transparent converter between the protocol used by a device, and that used by your SCADA or HMI (i.e. OPC, Wonderware SuiteLink, etc.).

While there are a number of answers to how you can be more aware of what is going on with your system, this fourth post in our "OmniServer Did You Know?" blog series focuses on the importance of system tags, and specifically how they can be used in the OmniServer to query the health of the server as a whole, as well as individual device connections.



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5 min read

Top 4 TOP Server V6.2 Features to Be Excited About

By Kevin Rutherford on Jun 15, 2017 2:00:00 PM


You've probably received one of my emails or possibly heard from a colleague about the latest TOP Server released on June 8 – so you may have a general idea of the key new features in the TOP Server V6.2 release.

In this blog, I'll go through the biggest four features released in V6.2 in more detail and how they benefit you as a TOP Server user.



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4 min read

Did You Know? How to Set Initial Values in OmniServer

By Kevin Rutherford on Jun 1, 2017 2:00:00 PM


As you likely already know, OmniServer is primarily used to retrieve information from devices that use ‘non-standard’ protocols to communicate such as weight scales, barcode readers, and printers.

But were you aware that OmniServer, as part of that function, is capable of specifying a default initial value for data items on startup?  In this third post in our "OmniServer Did You Know?" blog series, keep reading to find out how to use initial values for your data items in OmniServer and under what situations that will be important.



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4 min read

TOP Server V6.1 - Mitsubishi Ethernet Improvements

By Kevin Rutherford on May 25, 2017 2:00:00 PM


There are some powerful new features available with TOP Server V6.1.  In case you missed it, I did a high-level post giving you an overview of the six biggest features from the V6.1 release - click here to see that post.

Today, I'd like to give you a more detailed review of the great improvements made to the Mitsubishi Ethernet driver in TOP Server V6.1.  Keep reading to find out about new device model support and some great increases in read and write performance for communication with your Mitsubishi controllers.



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5 min read

Did You Know? How to Use Character Translations in OmniServer

By Kevin Rutherford on May 18, 2017 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 weight scales, barcode readers, and printers.

But were you aware that OmniServer is also capable of handling advanced protocols where the devices send special characters/bytes that need to be handled in a specific way?  In this second post in our "OmniServer Did You Know?" blog series, keep reading to find out how to use a feature called "translations" in OmniServer with certain protocols that require special handling.



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1 min read

On-Demand Webinar: What's New in TOP Server for Wonderware V6.1

By Kevin Rutherford on May 11, 2017 2:00:00 PM


You've potentially already heard about the latest and greatest TOP Server - Version 6.1.  You may have read my blog post about the 6 new features to be most excited about already.

But if you'd like to join me, in the following on-demand video blog, I'll step you through the new features that Wonderware users should care about in TOP Server V6.1 beyond what they are and cover how you can benefit from them, as well as, showing you what you can expect in future releases.



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4 min read

Did You Know? OmniServer Can Retrieve Data From Web Services

By Marc Holbach on May 4, 2017 2:00:00 PM


If you are familiar with the OmniServer, you probably already know that it can be used to retrieve information from devices that use ‘non-standard’ protocols to communicate – typically these are your weight scales, barcode readers, and printers.

However, did you know that the OmniServer can also retrieve data that are exposed via web services, or even websites?  Keep reading to find out you can "scrape" web sites or services to integrate useful information into your systems using OmniServer.



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3 min read

Need to Integrate CODESYS Devices? TOP Server V6.1 for Wonderware

By Kevin Rutherford on Apr 27, 2017 2:00:00 PM


There are some powerful new features now available with TOP Server V6.1.  In case you missed it, I did a high-level post giving you an overview of the six biggest features from the V6.1 release - click here to see that post.

Today, I'd like to give you a more detailed summary of the features of the new CODESYS Ethernet driver now available in TOP Server V6.1.  Typically used by controller manufacturers for whom creating custom firmware isn't scalable, CODESYS has grown in usage globally over the years. Keep reading to find out more about the CODESYS Ethernet driver both now and what's on the horizon for integrating your CODESYS devices.



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4 min read

TOP Server V6.1 - What is the New Siemens Plus Suite?

By Kevin Rutherford on Apr 20, 2017 2:00:00 PM


There are some powerful new features now available with TOP Server V6.1.  In case you missed it, I did a high-level post giving you an overview of the six biggest features from the V6.1 release - click here to see that post.

Today, I'd like to give you an in-depth look at the new Siemens Plus Suite now available in TOP Server V6.1.  Over the past few years, we've heard from many of you that you need the latest functionality and connectivity for Siemens controllers. Keep reading to find out how our latest suite for Siemens connectivity provides the options you've been looking for.



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6 min read

Top 6 TOP Server V6.1 Features to Be Excited About

By Kevin Rutherford on Apr 13, 2017 2:00:00 PM


You've likely already heard about the latest and greatest TOP Server just released on April 4 – so you've likely received one or more of our mailings announcing the release of TOP Server V6.1.

And I certainly wouldn't blame you for asking, “If I’ve already read those emails, what more is this blog post going to tell me?”  I urge you to keep reading to find out more specific details about six of the most exciting features available in TOP Server V6.1.



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1 min read

Video Tutorial: Securely View & Control USB Cameras with Cogent DataHub

By Win Worrall on Apr 6, 2017 2:00:00 PM


With the release of Cogent DataHub Version 8, we have had a lot of interest in new USB camera support functionality. The following short video blog demonstrates step-by-step just how easy it is use the Cogent DataHub to establish a connection to a USB Camera and then securely tunnel that data to another computer and then create a DataHub WebView page that will allow you to view the camera image and control the camera remotely.


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3 min read

LGH Files Reimagined - New Ways to Leverage InTouch History Files

By Kevin Rutherford on Mar 30, 2017 2:00:00 PM


If you're reading this, you likely have some use cases for working with InTouch LGH history files.  A classic way for InTouch users to log historical process data since just about the beginning of InTouch availability, there are still many of you out in the world with some usage of LGH logging to store historical data (or you at least have some legacy files you need to somehow utilize).

This blog post will discuss some unique ways to utilize LGH historical logging beyond the obvious use case of simply historizing process data being collected by InTouch.



Topics: Wonderware CSV LGH
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3 min read

OmniServer V3.0 - Protocol Message Import/Export

By Kevin Rutherford on Mar 23, 2017 2:00:00 PM


You may have heard about the latest OmniServer release – OmniServer V3.0.  OmniServer V3.0 includes enhancements to licensing and support management, as well as, several usability enhancements to the configuration interface including a new topic wizard and updated Configuration User Interface.  Well, we've also recently released a subsequent V3.0 build containing support for CSV import/export of protocol Command/Response Messages.

Continuing our blog series about specific V3.0 features - this blog post will detail the new import/export functionality designed to increase your efficiency and the ease mass editing protocol messaging on larger protocols when you're working with OmniServer to integrate your non-standard process devices.



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1 min read

Video Tutorial: Secure OPC UA Connectivity with Cogent DataHub

By Win Worrall on Mar 15, 2017 2:00:00 PM


With the release of Cogent DataHub Version 8, we have had a lot of interest in OPC UA connectivity. The following short video blog demonstrates step-by-step just how easy it is to make an OPC UA connection between two DataHub nodes while also demonstrating how to manage security certificates in DataHub when making OPC UA connections.


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5 min read

TOP Server Features to Be Excited About - Water & Wastewaster

By Kevin Rutherford on Mar 9, 2017 2:00:00 PM


If you've ready any of my other recents posts regarding specific industries, you already understand how one of TOP Server's primary differentiators is the wide variety of different drivers/protocols to choose from for communicating with the multitude of device makes and models out there in the automation world.  Drivers for all of the major PLCs in manufacturing like Allen-Bradley, Siemens, Omron, Mitsubishi and many more have always been conveniently organized into driver suites.  But what about options for Water & Wastewater?

Continuing our series about specific industries covered by TOP Server, keep reading to find out specific details about the drivers and features available in TOP Server for the Water & Wastewater industries including several great features that should make your lives easier in TOP Server V6.0.



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4 min read

DataHub V8 and You - Common Questions & Answers

By Win Worrall on Mar 2, 2017 2:00:00 PM


By now, I’m sure you’re aware of the Cogent DataHub v8 release.  Since announcing the release date, we have had many good questions from existing users like you.

This blog post will address the most common questions we have received and provide the answers you need to plan your DataHub V8 migration.



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4 min read

What Can Cogent DataHub V8 Do For You?

By Win Worrall on Feb 23, 2017 2:00:00 PM


You may have heard about the upcoming release of Cogent DataHub Version 8 on March 1.  The new features in Version 8 are focused on enabling the Cogent DataHub to deliver high-quality data communication – secure, fast, and fully integrated within the plant and beyond.

In this blog post, to give you a bit more insight into what you can expect, I will provide further details on each of the new features.



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5 min read

TOP Server Features to Be Excited About - Power & Utilities Suite

By Kevin Rutherford on Feb 16, 2017 2:00:00 PM


One of TOP Server's key differentiators is the wide variety of different drivers/protocols to choose from for communicating with the multitude of device makes and models out there in the automation world.  TOP Server has always had all of the major manufacturers like Allen-Bradley, Siemens, Omron, Mitsubishi and many more conveniently organized into driver suites.

So what about specific industries such as Oil & Gas, Manufacturing, Power & Utilities, Building Automation or IT & Infrastructure?  TOP Server also has convenient vertical industry suites, as well.

Continuing our series about specific industries covered by TOP Server, keep reading to find out specific details about the TOP Server Power & Utilities Suite including several great features that should make your lives easier in TOP Server V6.0.



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5 min read

Industrial Communications Protocols Matter: Focus on Troubleshooting

By Marc Holbach on Feb 9, 2017 2:00:00 PM


At its core, a communication protocol is just the ‘language’ that devices speak, right? Just a collection of rules that govern how components of a system are going to interact with each other, and what the capabilities of the system might look like.

In this post, I will discuss why you should bother learning anything about communication protocols in the first place. I will discuss the value of knowing what a communication standard is and why some people (myself included) commit so much time to learning them.



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6 min read

TOP Server Features to Be Excited About - Building Automation Suite

By Kevin Rutherford on Feb 2, 2017 2:00:00 PM


One of TOP Server's key differentiators is the wide variety of different drivers/protocols to choose from for communicating with the multitude of device makes and models out there in the automation world.  Existing users can tell you that all of the major manufacturers such as Allen-Bradley, Siemens, Omron, Mitsubishi and so many more are conveniently organized into driver suites.

But what about specific industries such as Oil & Gas, Manufacturing, Power & Utilities, Building Automation or IT & Infrastructure?  TOP Server has convenient vertical industry suites, as well.

Continuing our series about specific industries covered by TOP Server, keep reading to find out specific details about the TOP Server Building Automation Suite including several great features that should make your lives easier in TOP Server V6.0.



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5 min read

OmniServer V3.0 - New Topic Wizard

By Kevin Rutherford on Jan 26, 2017 2:00:00 PM


The latest OmniServer released in October – OmniServer V3.0 - includes enhancements to licensing and support management, as well as, several usability enhancements to the configuration interface including a new topic wizard and updated Configuration User Interface.

This second blog post in a series about specific V3.0 features will detail one of those usability enhancements - the new Topic Wizard - designed to increase your efficiency and the ease of getting started when you're working with OmniServer to integrate your non-standard process devices.



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6 min read

TOP Server Features to Be Excited About - IT & Infrastructure Suite

By Kevin Rutherford on Jan 19, 2017 2:00:00 PM


With TOP Server, one of the key strengths is the wide variety of different drivers/protocols to choose from for communicating with the multitude of device makes and models out there in the automation world.  There are, of course, all of the major manufacturers such as Allen-Bradley, Siemens, Omron, Mitsubishi and so many more organized into driver suites.

But what about specific industries such as Oil & Gas, Manufacturing, Power & Utilities, Building Automation or IT & Infrastructure?  TOP Server has vertical industry suites, as well.

Continuing our series about specific industries covered by TOP Server, keep reading to find out specific details about the TOP Server IT & Infrastructure Suite including several great features that should make your lives easier in TOP Server V6.0.



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3 min read

OmniServer V3.0 - Improved User Interface

By Kevin Rutherford on Jan 12, 2017 2:00:00 PM


You may have heard about the latest OmniServer released in October – OmniServer V3.0.  OmniServer V3.0 includes enhancements to licensing and support management, as well as, several usability enhancements to the configuration interface including a new topic wizard and updated Configuration User Interface.

The first in a series about specific V3.0 features - this blog post will detail one of those usability enhancements - the updated Configuration UI - designed to increase your efficiency and the ease of finding settings and components when you're working with OmniServer to integrate your non-standard process devices.



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8 min read

TOP Server V6.0 Features to Be Excited About for Oil & Gas

By Kevin Rutherford on Jan 6, 2017 2:00:00 PM


I'm sure you've likely at least heard about the latest TOP Server V6.0 released recently.  Aside from the great server-level enhancements to the user interface and more, there are several nice upgrades that should prove especially useful to our users in the Oil & Gas industry working with TOP Server.

Keep reading to find out more specific details about several great features that should make your lives easier in TOP Server V6.0.



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6 min read

OPC Connectivity & Security Concerns in IT/OT Convergence

By John Weber on Dec 20, 2016 2:00:00 PM


Complications of Domains, Workgroups, & Mixed Windows Versions & Solutions

In the Operations Technology or OT world that most of our users live in, it’s normal to have multiple versions of Windows and systems that may not always be setup consistently but we have to make it all work anyway.   Connecting OPC clients and servers when the Windows computers are not on the same version, not in an Active Directory or, using older terminology, a domain, and having everything work well takes skill, and keeping it secure involves a lot of details.

In this blog post, our team asked me to explore with you the details involved to assist you with better understanding Windows Security and to converse more productively with your IT Team.  I’ll also share how you can learn more about how to make things easier on yourself through the use of OPC UA or with Tunneling.



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3 min read

Does Your OPC Tunnel Give You Control Over Bandwidth?

By Win Worrall on Dec 14, 2016 2:00:00 PM


It's common with OPC for users to not realize that it is the OPC client that typically defines how quickly the OPC server should poll or send requests to the underlying control devices and equipment the server is communicating with.

This blog post will discuss how important it is for an OPC tunneling solution to have some level of control over this frequency of polling in order to maximize efficient usage of your precious bandwidth.



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5 min read

TOP Server V6.0 - Secure Out-of-the-Box

By Kevin Rutherford on Dec 6, 2016 12:00:00 PM


There are some very exciting new features now available with TOP Server V6.0.  In case you missed it, I did a high-level post giving you an overview of the five biggest features from the V6.0 release - click here to see that post.

Today, I'd like to give you an in-depth look at some of the important updates regarding security included with TOP Server V6.  With ever growing security concerns across industries, ensuring that TOP Server V6 was providing the highest security capabilities as standard functionality was an important goal.  Keep reading to find out how TOP Server V6 has become secure out-of-the-box.



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6 min read

TOP Server V6.0 - What's a Config API?

By John Weber on Dec 1, 2016 2:00:00 PM


If you’ve seen any of our other posts on TOP Server V6 and its new capabilities, you may have seen us mention the Configuration API.  Unless you’re a developer, you may have been wondering what is that and why would I care?  We’ve been pleasantly surprised by how many of our users have had an interest in this new feature.

Today in this post, I will explore in more detail what an API is, what the configuration API does, how it works at a high level, and provide examples of the type of applications people are using it for.



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4 min read

TOP Server V6.0 - New Localized Language Support

By Kevin Rutherford on Nov 29, 2016 10:00:00 AM


I'm sure you've heard about the latest TOP Server released on November 15.  There are some very exciting new features now available with TOP Server V6.0.  In case you missed it, I did another high-level post giving you an overview of the five biggest features from the V6.0 release - click here to see that post.

Today, I'd like to give you an in-depth look at the brand new support for localized languages now included with TOP Server V6.  This support lays the groundwork for additional languages in the future, so if you've always wished TOP Server was available in languages other than English, keep reading to find out how extensive the language implementations are.



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6 min read

TOP Server V6.0 - New, Improved Licensing In-Depth

By Kevin Rutherford on Nov 18, 2016 1:18:35 PM


I'm sure you've probably heard about the latest and greatest TOP Server just released on November 15.  And there's a good chance you've received one or more of my mailings announcing the release of TOP Server V6.0, the new features and other changes.  And, in case you missed it, I did another high-level post giving you an overview of the five biggest features from the V6.0 release - click here to see that post.

Now, let's take a more in-depth look at the substantial improvements made to the licensing for TOP Server V6.0.  If you've ever said you wished it was easier to license TOP Server, you're going to love this.



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7 min read

TOP Server V6.0 - The New User Interface In-Depth

By Kevin Rutherford on Nov 17, 2016 9:00:00 AM


I'm sure that, by now, you've at least heard about the latest and greatest TOP Server just released on November 15 – TOP Server V6.0.  In case you missed it, I did another high-level post giving you an overview of the five biggest features from the release - click here to see that post.

Now, let's take an in-depth look at the enhancements made to the user interface itself.  New users will find the enhancements very user-friendly and existing users will appreciate the thought that's gone into increasing productivity without sacrificing existing knowledge about configuring TOP Server.



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8 min read

Top 5 TOP Server V6.0 Features to Be Excited About

By Kevin Rutherford on Nov 15, 2016 8:05:00 AM


By now, I'm sure you've at least heard about the latest and greatest TOP Server just released on November 15 – so you've likely received one or more of our mailings announcing the release of TOP Server V6.0.

And you're probably asking, “If I’ve already read those emails, what more is this blog post going to tell me?”  Keep reading to find out more specific details about five of the most exciting features in TOP Server V6.0.



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4 min read

Analyzing OPC UA Communications Using Wireshark

By Colson Dunlap on Oct 24, 2016 2:00:00 PM

As more and more companies are making the switch from OPC-DA to OPC-UA, it is becoming increasingly important to be able to troubleshoot OPC-UA communications.     One of the easiest ways to analyze the communication between an OPC-UA client and server is to use Wireshark.

This blog will cover step-by-step how to use Wireshark to troubleshoot communications between your OPC-UA client and server applications.



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2 min read

Is Your OPC Tunnel Compatible with Any OPC Application?

By Win Worrall on Oct 18, 2016 2:00:00 PM


It's common in the automation space to just throw out the term "OPC" without any qualifiers when talking about what a software solution supports with respect to open connectivity to other software.  But what does "OPC" mean for your specific software solution?

This blog post will discuss how important it is to know what an OPC tunneling solution is actually compatible with when talking about "OPC" since not all tunneling solutions use the same methods.



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4 min read

Extracting InTouch History Data (LGH) Made Easy

By Marc Holbach on Oct 11, 2016 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 what good is historical data when you can’t easily access it? How can historical data result in process improvements, financial returns, or increases in efficiency if you’re not accessing it?



Topics: Wonderware LGH
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2 min read

How Much Experience Does Your Tunneler Solution Have?

By Win Worrall on Oct 4, 2016 2:00:00 PM


There’s nothing like knowing that you aren’t alone, and someone else has had the same problems or successes that you have in similar situations.  That's just as true in the industrial automation world as it is in life.

This blog post will discuss how the peace of mind garnered from case studies and real-world examples when choosing a tunneling solution can be a deciding factor.



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1 min read

Introduction to OPC UA Seminar

By Marc Holbach on Sep 27, 2016 2:15:46 PM

The OPC UA specification is an evolution on the original OPC Classic specifications that has been designed by the OPC Foundation to supplement, but not render obsolete the existing OPC standards such as DA, HDA, & A&E.  OPC UA is designed to make enterprise-level integration easier, while ensuring compatibility and interoperability with existing OPC DA, HDA, and A&E servers and clients. OPC expert Marc Holbach gives a seminar on all of the details below.



Topics: OPC UA OPC
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2 min read

Expanding your System Platform Integration Options

By Colin Winchester on Sep 22, 2016 2:00:00 PM

Over the years, I have run across a number of system integrators asking question about how to connect various systems. One of the common ones I run across is how to connect Wonderware products to other servers or systems.



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3 min read

Can You Tunnel Remote Data From Many Locations?

By Win Worrall on Sep 20, 2016 2:30:00 PM


Collecting data from multiple remote sites or aggregating, as it is generally referred to, is a big part of geographically distributed control operations.  Having a macro picture of your operations over all of your locations is key.

And efficient, reliable performance is always a concern.  This blog post will discuss performance as it relates to aggregating data from multiple remote sites using a tunneler solution and why it's important for tunneler solutions to support multiple tunnel connections in the same instance.



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5 min read

Why Your Industrial Communications Protocol Matters: Focus on SNMP

By Colin Winchester on Sep 15, 2016 8:57:33 AM


Software Toolbox has been involved with Industrial Automation communications for over 20 years now.  When you've done something for such a long time you can forget that many people in this industry or IT don’t know as much about the topic as they would like.

This second blog post to our "Why Your Industrial Protocol Matters" series shares a detailed overview of the SNMP communications protocol written by John Weber a number of years ago and still perfectly relevant today.   Over the last 15 years, there has been a great tendency to merge IT and Industrial networking together. One of the advantages of this practice is the increased usage of SNMP into the control/industrial network arena. For those without an IT background, this is key knowledge that we will see continue to grow.  If you missed our introduction blog post to this series and want to get caught up, you can access it here.



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3 min read

Why Your Industrial Communications Protocol Matters

By Marc Holbach on Sep 8, 2016 2:00:00 PM


Software Toolbox has been involved with Industrial Automation communications for over 20 years now and some of us for even longer.  When you've done something for such a long time you can forget that many people in this industry or IT don’t know as much about the topic as they would like.

To help share the collective knowledge we've gained throughout the years, we're starting a series of articles on why protocols matter for getting the most out of your projects.

This introductory blog post to the series will discuss my insights starting out in this industry as an Applications Consultant at Software Toolbox with respect to just how important the actual communications protocol and understanding of its strengths and weaknesses can be to the success of a project.



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2 min read

Can You Tunnel Remote Data Without Opening the Firewall?

By Win Worrall on Sep 7, 2016 1:00:00 PM


The more regulated your industry, the more likely it is that you have a cybersecurity team that is extremely vigilant about gaps in security.  Traditionally, remote OPC tunneling has generally always required that network firewalls have at least one port open for data transfers to work successfully.

But what if you work in one of these highly regulated industries and your IT/cybersecurity department won't allow you to open any firewall ports for remote data sharing?

This blog post will discuss why it's important for a tunneler solution to support alternatives to the traditional methods of tunneling with open firewall ports to ensure network integrity.



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2 min read

Can Your OPC Tunnel Unlock All of Your Data Sources?

By Win Worrall on Aug 23, 2016 12:39:14 PM


The word tunneling, when it comes to industrial automation and data, typically goes together with OPC.  OPC tunneling is generally the most common form of tunneling, but what if your data sources aren't OPC?

What if you have more than just OPC clients and servers in your architecture and those non-OPC data sources have vital information that needs to be collected and shared with your other systems?

This blog post will discuss why it's  important for a tunneler solution to support more than just OPC-capable data sources in a diverse control system.



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2 min read

Is Your OPC Tunnel up to OPC Spec?

By Win Worrall on Aug 9, 2016 12:44:51 PM


The letters O - P - C get thrown around a lot these days in the context of the industrial automation industry.  But it's important to understand that OPC is not a one-size-fits-all standard.  There are different specifications under the OPC umbrella and it's not a safe assumption that they are all just compatible with each other because they typically are not.

This blog post will discuss how important it is to know which OPC specifications you have in use and whether the OPC tunneler solution you have or are considering can handle them all.



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3 min read

Viewing Your Software Toolbox Support History

By Marc Holbach on Aug 2, 2016 1:55:14 PM


So you just installed a Software Toolbox product and have run into a problem and you have exhausted all the normal troubleshooting steps – what do you do now?

The next step should be to give our support team a call, or shoot us an email. Whether you call or email, the moment you reach out to us a support ticket will be created and your support history is recorded in its entirety in our CRM system for future reference.

This blog post will cover how easy it is to access your current and historical cases with the Software Toolbox support team.



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2 min read

Connecting Windows to non-Windows in Your Control System

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


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

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

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



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5 min read

Minimize Downtime with TOP Server Troubleshooting Tools

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


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

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

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



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3 min read

How Redundancy Can Define Success or Failure in a Control System

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


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

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

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



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5 min read

Accessing Wonderware System Platform via OPC UA

By Kevin Rutherford on Jun 23, 2016 12:00:00 PM


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

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



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2 min read

Reasons a Configurable TCP Port is Important for OPC Tunneling

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


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

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

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



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2 min read

Reasons why DCOM across Windows versions is a nightmare

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


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

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

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



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4 min read

Protocol Docs - The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

By Kevin Rutherford on May 31, 2016 2:00:00 PM


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

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



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3 min read

Configuring a tunneler should be quick and easy

By Win Worrall on May 24, 2016 2:00:00 PM


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

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

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



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2 min read

Can your tunneler do more than just tunnel?

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


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

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

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



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2 min read

Performance matters when choosing a tunneler

By Win Worrall on Apr 26, 2016 2:00:00 PM


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

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

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

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



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2 min read

What is the customer experience when contacting the supplier’s technical support?

By Win Worrall on Apr 12, 2016 2:02:15 PM


This is Part 3 of our “25 Things to Consider when Choosing an OPC Tunnel” series. What is the customer experience when contacting the supplier’s technical support?

Technical support is an area where users shouldn’t underestimate the importance.  This blog will cover some important aspects of technical support to consider when evaluating different tunneling suppliers.



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2 min read

How should a tunneler handle network security?

By Win Worrall on Apr 5, 2016 1:14:18 PM


This is Part 2 of our “25 Things to Consider when Choosing an OPC Tunnel” series. How does the tunneler handle security?

Security is an integral consideration when choosing a tunneling solution.  This blog will cover some important aspects of security to consider when evaluating different tunneling solutions.



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3 min read

How should a tunneler respond when the network connection is lost?

By Win Worrall on Mar 23, 2016 12:59:12 PM


This is Part 1 of our “25 Things to Consider when Choosing an OPC Tunnel” series. When choosing software applications to handle the tunneling of your data, there is more to making the right choice than simply a checkbox on a product datasheet that says “tunneling”. This series will introduce you to the considerations that will help you make an informed choice and choose the most effective tunneler for your specific application requirements. If you are unfamiliar with what an OPC tunnel is, please read our post “ Tunneling OPC Data – What Is It?


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2 min read

Four reasons to use tunneling for OPC data integration

By Win Worrall on Mar 17, 2016 10:23:55 AM


In today’s industrial operations environments, OPC is the standard of choice for interoperability between software and hardware in the multi-vendor real world. Major software applications that need data from other systems have implemented OPC client interfaces. Those same applications if they need to share data with others, have also implemented OPC server interfaces. Similarly, the OPC standard has allowed software vendors to write applications, called OPC Servers, which make it easy to access real-time data from any piece of equipment offered by any vendor.

Since 1995, the OPC Foundation estimates that over 30 million OPC server and client software applications have been deployed in operations management from the shop floor up through production and operations management layers. The result is that data from the factory floor is more available now than ever before.

The greater availability of data has generated greater demand for access to the data across a wider number of locations and users. However, getting that data from the factory floor to your systems and staff to monitor and act upon it has challenges.



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2 min read

Tunneling OPC Data – What Is It?

By Win Worrall on Mar 16, 2016 5:18:14 PM


You may have heard the terms OPC tunnel or tunneling of OPC data before and not have known exactly what the terms meant. In this blog post, we will explain what people mean when they talk about an OPC tunnel or tunneling of OPC data. In order to explain what the terms mean, we need to first understand how OPC data is exchanged between an OPC server and an OPC client.


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5 min read

Connect Your HMI/SCADA to Barcode Scanners

By Kevin Rutherford on Jan 28, 2016 1:59:16 PM

Barcode scanners are one of those types of devices that are extremely common in a variety of industries, whether it's for use in a manufacturing process or for cataloging inventory or a multitude of other possible uses.  But how do you go from scanning a barcode to making that barcode data available to your monitoring applications such as an HMI or a SCADA?

Over the years of working in the automation software realm, I've seen dozens of clients have this seemingly basic need to bring barcodes up into various software packages.  Regardless of the make/model of the scanner, the process is almost identical.  For example, you could connect to a DataLogic scanner in under five minutes. (Click for How-To Video)

This post will cover the steps for bridging that gap between your scanners and your client applications.



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3 min read

Five Sources of Actionable JSON Data for Your HMI/SCADA/MES

By Kevin Rutherford on Dec 16, 2015 11:25:32 AM


Trends are moving towards making smarter operating decisions based on actionable information, whether you're in the manufacturing space, oil/gas, power/utilities or other industries where outside variables can substantially impact the bottomline.

Having access to current and historical information on all of those outside variables is key to having "smart" operations that maximize profits in the most efficient manner possible.

We're going to discuss several sources of such important outside variables that, in the past, may have been difficult to integrate into a control system such as an HMI, SCADA or MES and how they are now available in an easy-to-consume, JSON RESTful web services format



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2 min read

3 Considerations for Maximizing Uptime over Serial Radio Networks

By Kevin Rutherford on Dec 8, 2015 4:26:17 PM


With the majority of companies in the oil, gas, railroad, water, wastewater, mining and power/utilities industries requiring wide area distributed radio networks for communications, engineers in charge of these radio networks have the daunting task of maintaining the highest level of performance and uptime at all times.

Given that you're reading this, I will choose to make the assumption that you are either an engineer in charge of such a radio network or that you've had some interaction on some level with such a radio network and it may not have been an altogether pleasant experience.

We're going to discuss a few things to keep in mind if you're interested in getting the most uptime possible out of your serial radios (and, let's face it, why wouldn't you want that).



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

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

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