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

Posted 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 releasing in January 2019 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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Topics: Wonderware, Device Integration, IT/OT, OPC UA, Security, DataHub, Azure IoT, Amazon IoT, Google IoT

Linux MES to OPC Operations Data Integration in Aluminum Smelting Operation

Posted 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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Topics: DataHub, OPC, Case Studies, OPC DA, Mining/Metals

Namibia Brewing – Enterprise Data Integration Update & Award

Posted 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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Topics: DataHub, OPC, TOP Server, Wonderware, Case Studies

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

Posted 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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Topics: DataHub, OPC Integration, OPC DA, OPC UA, Excel, DDE, Video Tutorials

Video Tutorial: Tracking the Health of Your Servers

Posted 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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Topics: DataHub, OPC Integration, OPC DA, OPC UA, IT/OT, Alarming, Windows, Video Tutorials

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

Posted 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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Topics: DataHub, OPC, TOP Server, Wonderware, Case Studies

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

Posted 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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Topics: Device Integration, DataHub, Alarming, SMS, Email, OPC Integration, OPC DA, OPC UA, Video Tutorials

Automation & Control Software Learning Resources for the New Year

Posted 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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Topics: TOP Server, OmniServer, Wonderware, DataHub

How to Connect, Integrate, or Communicate between Control Systems

Posted 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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Topics: Automation 101, OPC, OPC DA, OPC UA, DataHub, Bridging, connectivity, OPC Integration, Device Integration

Enabling System Health Tracking in OT Software Applications

Posted 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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Topics: DataHub, OPC, IT/OT, Alarming, Windows

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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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