Software Toolbox Technical Blog

Marc Holbach


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2 min read

OPC Router Basic Training - Connecting SQL to OPC Data Sources

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

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

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

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6 min read

Accessing Industrial Data from OPC & SQL Sources with HTTP Clients

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

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

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

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

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5 min read

Exploring OPC UA - Key Concepts of a Layered Security Model

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


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

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

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8 min read

Exploring OPC UA - Symmetric vs Asymmetric Encryption

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


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

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

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4 min read

Exploring OPC UA - OPC UA Certificate Basics

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


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

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

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

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4 min read

Optimizing Heat Reclamation Process with OPC Data Logger

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


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

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

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

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