Software Toolbox Technical Blog

Empowering Sustainability in and through the use of Cloud Data Centers

8 min read

By Zachary Parham on Apr 11, 2024 2:00:00 PM

There is significant growth in companies offloading their applications, data management, files, and content to cloud hosted systems. While this is great for a multitude of reasons, have you wondered what impact that might have on your business reaching its sustainability goals? That's where we have some good news – the cloud can be, and typically is, green, because of the economies of scale that large data centers provide. In this second post of our Environmental Sustainability blog series, we'll look at what cloud providers and data centers are doing, how using cloud computing can help reduce your company's energy usage and carbon footprint, and how Software Toolbox's solutions empower them all.

Continue Reading

Revolutionizing Sustainability with Circular Economy and OPC Standards

5 min read

By Sarah Eckhoff on Apr 4, 2024 2:00:00 PM

In this first installment of our 2024 Environmental Sustainability Blog Series, we’re going to piggyback on last year’s Waste Reduction blog post, and take things a step farther – how can you incorporate aspects of a circular economy to positively impact your work environment? In this blog post we’ll discuss what a circular economy is, the impact circular economies have on the environment, and how software that leverages OPC Standards and the automation industry can play a pivotal role in fostering its success.

Continue Reading

Modbus Offset vs. Addressing: Why Does It Matter?

7 min read

By Ryan Royse on Mar 21, 2024 2:00:00 PM

Have you ever been confused on the difference between Modbus offsets and addresses? I’m sure you may have configured different Modbus devices from different manufacturers who follow different documentation standards, especially for memory mapping. As we all know, that can certainly increase implementation time. In this blog post, we are going to dive into how offsets and addresses compare and differ to hopefully provide a better understanding, cutting down that configuration time when using TOP Server. Before we start comparing offsets and addressing, let’s first get an understanding of what both are.

Continue Reading

Using TOP Server's Advanced Tags Plug-In: Calculations & Data Bridging

7 min read

By John Gonzalez on Mar 7, 2024 2:00:00 PM

TOP Server is widely used in automation for data collection from your industrial control systems. One of the many benefits of using TOP Server is that it ensures data integrity – meaning that the accuracy, consistency, and completeness of the data is maintained from your data source all the way up to whatever is consuming that data from TOP Server, such as your HMI, SCADA, MES, or Historian. While its capability to collect unchanged raw data from field devices is invaluable, it may not always align with the desired format, and there could be elective data massaging or manipulation required to meet your business demands. TOP Server can convert data types and even scale to engineering units, but what if you need more advanced data such Cycle Time, Maximum Temperature, Downtime Reason, etc.?

The TOP Server Advanced Tags Plug-in enhances functionality by providing added features to any TOP Server driver, such as mathematical operations and data bridging across protocols, thereby streamlining analysis processes and enhancing decision-making capabilities within industrial control applications.

In this article, we'll briefly introduce a few key features of the TOP Server Advanced Tags Plug-in that could serve valuable to you in your data collection processes.

Continue Reading

Video Tutorial: Data Collection from DNP3 RTUs & Devices

3 min read

By Lauren Conrad on Feb 29, 2024 2:00:00 PM

DNP3 (Distributed Network Protocol) is a communications protocol primarily used for communications between a client application such as HMI, SCADA, or Historian and Remote Terminal Units (RTUs) or Intelligent Electrical Devices (IEDs). Originally designed for power distribution and transmission, the DNP3 protocol has also found a home in water/wastewater, oil & gas, and transportation thanks to its robust error checking and if applied properly, efficient bandwidth usage.

If you're reading this, you may be a part of one of these industries and might have a DNP3 RTU being used and need to integrate data from that process. If so, we can certainly help with that. A newer application of DNP3 is in the Emerson FB-3000 RTU's used in oil & gas. If you’re trying to figure out how to extract EFM historical data from one, we can help with that too, so please contact us!

The TOP Server DNP3 Client Suite supports data access from any device supporting the DNP3 protocol that acts as a server, over serial or Ethernet connections, wired or wireless/radio.

Our DNP3 drivers also boast deep functionality advantages including things like:

  • Automatic Tag Generation support for Channel and Device Configuration, Authentication Statistics, Data Set, Device Attribute, and File Control
  • Support for Integrity & Event polls across multiple classes that users define in the RTU to provide different frequency of retrieval for different points
  • Unsolicited messaging from the devices on conditions defined in the RTU
  • Analog deadband configuration
  • Secure DNP3 Support (Configurable User Authentication, Aggressive Mode support, User Key Management, Auto-generated internal Authentication Statistics tags)
  • Preservation of timestamps set in the device
  • WITS Phase 1, 2, and 3 support for the water industry
  • File transfer support (critical for Emerson FB-3000 devices, and used by some devices for remote configuration file upload and activation)

In this video blog, we'll show you how to get started using our TOP Server DNP3 Client Ethernet driver to connect and gather process data from a DNP3 device for HMI, SCADA, Historian, MES, and other client applications.

Continue Reading

Why Are My Data Values Wrong? - Exploring Modbus TOP Server Settings

12 min read

By Ryan Royse on Jan 11, 2024 2:00:00 PM

In the world of industrial automation and control systems, communication protocols play a crucial role in ensuring seamless data exchange between devices. Modbus started as a protocol used in Modicon, now Schneider Electric, PLCs in the 1970’s. It was adopted across the industry for its clarity and simplicity. With any protocol, including and especially with Modbus, there are areas where the parties to the communication, the client and server, can interpret the bit stream of data differently once exchanged because the Modbus protocol specification does not speak to those interpretations.

Continue Reading

Exploring TOP Server's Out-of-the-Box Security Features

10 min read

By Kyle Persyn on Nov 16, 2023 2:00:00 PM

Whether you're running a production system in manufacturing, oil and gas, building automation, or energy, safety and uptime are of the utmost importance, especially with cybersecurity attacks increasing in frequency and complexity.

That’s why when running an application with widespread user access, managing user permissions and configurations is so important, and you need a solution that is as security centric as you are. In this blog post, we delve into how to manage user groups and permissions inside the TOP Server’s User Manager and Security Policies Plug-In to ensure a robust and secure gateway to your TOP Server Configuration.

Continue Reading

TOP Server Troubleshooting Scenario: Device Side Communication Issue

17 min read

By Nicole Knox on Oct 26, 2023 2:00:00 PM

Your operations visibility relies on real-time data from machinery, systems, and field devices. When there are communications issues resulting in loss of or inaccurate data, addressing issues promptly is critical. Whether it's stale, poor quality, or missing data in your SCADA or HMI application, a well-defined troubleshooting procedure is a must. Like all our products, the TOP Server OPC Server offers an arsenal of tools to inform you about what is happening and streamline your troubleshooting process, summarized in our previous blog post, Minimize Downtime with TOP Server Troubleshooting Tools.

In this post, we'll take a deep dive into some of those tools, with an emphasis on the device connection side of TOP Server, teaching you a step-by-step process to pinpoint communication issues at their source. While this specific example uses the Modbus Ethernet Driver and an OPC DA Client connection, the same principles can be applied when troubleshooting various other scenarios.

Continue Reading

About this Blog

We're engineers like you, so this blog focuses on "How to" appnotes, videos, tech team tips, product update announcements, user case studies, and other technical updates.  Subscribe to updates below. Your feedback and questions on posts are always welcomed - just use the area at the bottom of any post.

Subscribe to our Blog

Recent Posts

Posts by Topic

See all