Software Toolbox Technical Blog

4 min read

Integration of Weight Data to Wonderware with OmniServer

By Kevin Rutherford on Oct 10, 2019 2:00:00 PM


Another common device integration scenario that we frequently encounter at Software Toolbox is needing to make weight data from a scale, weigh bridge or other weighing equipment available in an HMI or SCADA such as Wonderware.  Whether it's manufacturing, food and beverage or other industries, weight data is, for all intents and purposes, very similar regardless of what is being weighed.

In this second blog post of a series on OmniServer user stories, we’ll discuss a specific use case of a food and beverage producer needing to integrate their GSE scale data with Wonderware and SQL and how OmniServer provided a driver without the need for custom code.

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5 min read

Direct Control of Zebra Label Printers from HMI / SCADA

By Kevin Rutherford on Sep 26, 2019 2:00:00 PM


One of the most common device integration scenarios that we encounter is needing to control a printer and/or label applicator directly from an HMI or SCADA such as Wonderware.  And printers can be tricky, with most having similar but still different communication protocols - so how does one account for that kind of variability?

In this first blog post of a series on OmniServer user stories, we’ll discuss a specific use case of a paper products manufacturer needing direct control of their printing and labeling process directly from Wonderware and how OmniServer provided a driver without the need for custom code.

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4 min read

How to Log Data From Your S7-1500 via OPC UA using OPC Data Logger

By Tyler Lindsey on Aug 29, 2019 2:00:00 PM


With the relatively recent availability of OPC UA server capabilities in Siemens S7-1500 PLCs, access to live production data is now open to third-party applications. As a result, those applications can now communicate with hardware that was formerly locked behind proprietary communication drivers.

The OPC Data Logger's OPC UA client interface allows users to quickly and easily connect to S7-1500 PLC’s and log data to their preferred data storage option without the need for intermediate applications. This blog post covers the high-level steps involved with logging data from an S7-1500 controller and you can then download the free hands-on guide with detailed steps.

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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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10 min read

Did You Know? OmniServer Supports CSV Import/Export

By Kevin Rutherford on May 2, 2019 2:00:00 PM


OmniServer's main purpose is enabling connectivity without custom code for devices that use ‘non-standard’ protocols to communicate such as weight scales, barcode readers, and printers.  And OmniServer does that in a more efficient and cost-effective manner than writing custom code.

Furthering the goal of efficiency and cost-effectiveness, you may or may not be aware that OmniServer supports CSV import and export for speedy configuration of many things including topics, devices and, in the actual protocol itself, items, registers, topic variables and even messages.  On larger projects, this provides a substantial time savings.

In this post continuing our "OmniServer Did You Know?" blog series, we will cover how to use CSV import and export in OmniServer to facilitate faster configuration on larger protocol implementations.

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7 min read

Preview the Future of Non-Standard Protocol Creation

By Kevin Rutherford on Apr 11, 2019 2:00:00 PM


If you're familiar with OmniServer, you know that OmniServer is frequently used for accessing information from devices that use ‘non-standard’ protocols to communicate such as weight scales, barcode readers, and printers either over serial connections or Ethernet connections.

With the advent of touchscreen technology and the increasing availability and familiarity with drag-and-drop functionality across computer systems and applications, we feel it is important to evolve the OmniServer user experience to be more inline with current technologies and user expectations regarding ease-of-use.

In this blog post, we will cover a visual protocol builder we've been working on for OmniServer, showing you the key enhancements to the user experience that will make integrating your non-standard devices easier than ever.  And you'll be given the chance to request more information and consideration for our new beta program.

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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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5 min read

Did You Know? How to Integrate Virtual COM Devices with OmniServer

By Kevin Rutherford on Feb 14, 2019 2:00:00 PM


If you're familiar with OmniServer, you likely already know how OmniServer is commonly used to retrieve information from devices that use ‘non-standard’ protocols to communicate such as weight scales, barcode readers, and printers either over serial connections or Ethernet connections.

However, with the advent of USB connectivity, many such devices that would have traditionally been a serial/COM device now physically connect to a machine via USB, instead.

Continuing our "OmniServer Did You Know?" blog series, we will cover how OmniServer can easily connect to USB or serial-to-Ethernet devices that are mapped virtually as Serial/COM devices.

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8 min read

Did You Know? How to Test OmniServer Protocols Prior to Building Your Client Application

By Kevin Rutherford on Jan 3, 2019 2:00:00 PM


When working with non-standard protocols based on protocol documentation from a device vendor, there will always be some expected amount of testing, trial-and-error and troubleshooting in order to fine tune communications with a device.

Continuing our "OmniServer Did You Know?" blog series, this blog post focuses on how to use the built-in Item Values window in the OmniServer diagnostic tools and the included OPC Test Client to test communications using OmniServer.

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12 min read

Demystifying Modbus Function Codes

By Kevin Rutherford on Dec 13, 2018 2:00:00 PM


With the wide range of devices that use Modbus for their communication protocol, you'll find many different interpretations, terminology and labels with respect to how to access different types of data in those devices.  Sometimes a device manual might only refer to the supported Modbus function codes and the range of offsets available for those function codes.

In this blog post, I will step through the specifics of Modbus function codes and how they pertain to addressing, and how they affect what addresses to use in TOP Server for Wonderware applications.

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7 min read

Did You Know? How to Recover from Device Errors with OmniServer Error Messages

By Kevin Rutherford on Nov 7, 2018 2:00:00 PM


With any communication server for collecting process data, there has to be a reliable mechanism built-in for dealing with error responses from the underlying devices.  This is true even for OmniServer as a user-configurable communication server.

Continuing our "OmniServer Did You Know?" blog series, this blog post focuses on how to use error messages and notification items in an OmniServer protocol to properly handle error responses or conditions received from your non-standard process devices.

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6 min read

Demystifying Modbus Register Addressing with TOP Server for Wonderware

By Kevin Rutherford on Oct 11, 2018 2:00:00 PM


I'm sure you've all at least had some interaction with Modbus, working in the automation industry.  It's one of the most widely used protocols (if not the most widely used) in the world.  Which is both its blessing and its curse, to some extent.

Given how long Modbus has been around and in use as an "open" protocol (starting in 1979), there have been many different interpretations of Modbus throughout the years.  And with those different Modbus interpretations, much confusion about the different terminology for accessing data.

In this blog post, I will step through the basics of Modbus addressing including how offsets come into play, and how they affect what addresses to use in TOP Server for Wonderware applications.

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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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