Software Toolbox Technical Blog

Top 4 Benefits of Using a Hardware Key with OmniServer

5 min read

By Kevin Rutherford on Aug 6, 2020 2:00:00 PM

Software-based licensing is a commonality among software solutions across all industries, not just industrial process control.  It's flexible, doesn't require physical shipping and is very reliable. But some system architectures can ultimately benefit from another licensing option - hardware keys.

Hardware key licensing is invaluable for high-availability systems for a number of reasons.  We've recently expanded licensing support in OmniServer, the proven OPC solution for integrating non-standard devices that don't have an off-the-shelf driver, to include optional hardware key support.

In this blog post, we'll cover the key reasons that hardware key licensing is beneficial for many OmniServer users.

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How to Develop Custom OPC Clients with No Code

2 min read

By Ganesh Kalipershad on Jul 30, 2020 2:00:00 PM

When you hear the term "OPC client", you may initially think of off-the-shelf HMI or SCADA applications.  However, it's common in enterprises across most industries for there to be other custom developed software applications that could benefit from access to OPC process data.  Or perhaps there is a new custom application you're working on that needs to access OPC process data.  The question, then, is how to enable those applications as OPC clients.

In Part 1 of our series on How to Develop Custom OPC Clients, we will cover step-by-step how to use no-code techniques to bind production data to various types of user interface elements for reading, or writing, or both to build a basic OPC client application in Visual Studio.NET.

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OPC Router Basic Training - Writing SQL Data to OPC Servers

2 min read

By Marc Holbach on Jul 23, 2020 1:45:00 PM

As we discussed in Part 1 of our OPC Router Basic Training series, it is quite common for process industry projects to require logging of industrial process data to a database such as Microsoft SQL.  On the other side of the coin, it is also quite common for information such as recipes or other data to be stored in a database such as SQL and to then need to push that data down to process devices.

In Part 2 of the series, we will cover step-by-step how to write stored SQL data to OPC UA and DA servers based on flexible scripted trigger conditions with the OPC Router.

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OPC Router Basic Training - Connecting SQL to OPC Data Sources

2 min read

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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Top 3 TOP Server OPC UA Client Use Cases

5 min read

By Kevin Rutherford on Apr 16, 2020 2:00:00 PM

Standards-based industrial device connectivity such as OPC has become the norm over the last 20 years.  What used to be achieved by individual HMI/SCADA vendors with their own native drivers can now be easily accomplished with OPC drivers that are HMI/SCADA vendor agnostic.  TOP Server offers connectivity to thousands of device types and protocols while making those devices accessible via a variety of standard interfaces including OPC UA, OPC DA and SuiteLink.

But what you may not be aware of is that TOP Server for Wonderware has an available driver suite called the OPC Client Suite that allows it to also act as an OPC UA client, OPC DA client and OPC XML-DA client.  In this post, I'm going to go through the top 3 most common use cases for the OPC Client Suite that we see users take advantage of.

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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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Optimizing Heat Reclamation Process with OPC Data Logger

4 min read

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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Migration to State Based Control Increases Production via OPC UA

4 min read

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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