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Win Worrall

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Integrating Fluctuating Energy Prices using OPC For Process Decisions

4 min read

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

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

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

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

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Tech Support Corner: Sharing XML File Data With Cogent DataHub

5 min read

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

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

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

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

5 min read

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

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

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

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How to Convert MQTT Client Data to OPC

2 min read

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

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

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

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

3 min read

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

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

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

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

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

2 min read

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

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

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

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5 Key Considerations For Choosing Tunneling Solutions for Remote OPC

7 min read

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

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

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

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DataHub Enables Modular Procedural Automation at Air Liquide

8 min read

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

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

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

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