Software Toolbox Technical Blog

Colin Winchester

Recent Posts

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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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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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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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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