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Get Your Prescription for the Industrial Internet of Things

Posted by Erik Dellinger

In recent years, the number of manufacturers leveraging the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) to improve productivity, reduce defects, and gain more visibility into the operation of their facilities has increased dramatically. A recent survey conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) found that over one-third of U.S. manufacturers consider it “extremely critical” to have an IIoT strategy implemented in their operation. Similarly, a survey from LNS Research with over 600 respondents found that 34 percent of companies are currently adopting IoT—a figure that will undoubtedly continue to grow in the coming years.

Streaming Real-Time SCADA Data into Splunk

Posted by Erik Dellinger

If you are familiar with Splunk, then your first thought may be that they are an Operational Intelligence company gathering Big Data generated from log files within a data center. While this is true, it does not paint the entire picture of Splunk’s efforts around Big Data. Splunk has recently partnered with Kepware to harness data from the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). This blog will discuss some possible benefits of industrial machine data as part of business and operational intelligence strategy. It will also demonstrate the practical applications of the new partnership between Kepware and Splunk.

BACnet Calendar and Schedule Objects: Scheduling From Your Couch

Posted by Erik Dellinger

Before I get into Kepware’s current implementation of the BACnet Calendar and Schedule Objects (available in KEPServerEX version 5.15 and later), we should cover objects in general terms. When we talk about objects, we are essentially talking about structured data. You can think of structured data as how we store and organize data so that it can be easily and efficiently referenced and used. For example, rather than reading your first name, your last name, and then your location, you read it all at once. Structured data is a collection of properties or attributes that can contain various information, some of which is useless on its own but paints a larger and more meaningful picture when combined.

Some Thoughts on Industrial Internet of Things

Posted by Erik Dellinger

I recently read an article from the ARC Advisory Group discussing the industry’s latest hot topics around the Internet of Things (IoT). According to ARC, IoT is not necessarily a new concept in the industrial space—it has traditionally gone by Machine to Machine (M2M) and Industrial Ethernet, to name a couple. The differences with IoT today are centered on new technologies and better performance for traditional asset management and predictive maintenance systems. These new technologies are different in that they enable more connectivity through cloud-based applications, are storing and aggregating data more efficiently, and are providing better performance around mining the data that is collected.

Business Intelligence through Network Collaboration

Posted by Erik Dellinger

One of the challenges we see today that goes beyond technology is the convergence of Automation/Control and Information Technology (IT) systems and departments. Automation professionals want and need a hardened system. The systems they manage can and do run 24/7 without any major changes. If the IT department makes a decision to push down the latest anti-virus software, install the latest patches from an operating system update, or even something more significant like install a new operating system, production at a manufacturing facility could be taken offline for minutes to weeks. There is the potential when making IT system changes to make automation systems unusable. On the other hand, IT professionals must ensure all the equipment and networks are secure and vulnerabilities are managed. The business systems that reside on these networks are better understood by the IT team and are not as likely to produce the same significant loss in operations if they are down for a short period of time while changes are made or the system is recovered.

Taking a Holistic View of Monitoring Energy Use with OPC

Posted by Erik Dellinger

Monitoring energy use is the first step to taking greater control over energy costs and conservation efforts.  However, the emergence of alternative sources of power has made it more difficult to gain an accurate, holistic picture across multiple sources and structures. Engineering managers of multi-building complexes such as universities, hospitals, and corporate campuses are especially challenged in this area, particularly when energy efficiency and costs are tied to green initiatives. For example, energy monitoring requirements on a large campus site may span everything from the traditional grid, to chilled water plants, to solar panels providing supplemental energy through on-site power plants.

Mobile Technologies: Driving Next Generation Communication Systems

Posted by Erik Dellinger

Mobile technologies are driving the next generation of centralized monitoring and communication systems, especially in the Agricultural industry and in other industries whose remote locations span vast acreage. Instead of physically visiting a remote site and wasting precious response time, engineers can respond instantly to alerts, alarms, or isolated changes in system performance with a few taps on their Smartphone, iPad, tablet PC, or computer connected to the Internet.

Next Generation Monitoring with SNMP and OPC

Posted by Erik Dellinger

Today’s automation engineer has the critical job of monitoring PLCs and different devices on the plant floor. But what happens when there is an issue with the IT infrastructure that interconnects these devices? What if a port on a switch goes down? At that point, there’s unfortunately not much that the automation engineer can do except contact the enterprise IT department. That’s their domain.

OPC Tunneling with OPC Unified Architecture (OPC UA)

Posted by Erik Dellinger

For most businesses, data consolidation, sharing, and visibility across the enterprise is a top priority. OPC Classic enabled many organizations to achieve these objectives. However, there have been several obstacles caused by limitations in the Microsoft Component Object Model (COM) and Distributed Component Object Model (DCOM). Despite being widely adopted, these two options are limited in the usability and security options required by today’s industrial automation and distributed operation environments.

Why System Integrators Need to Put Users First

Posted by Erik Dellinger

Walking into the world’s largest polymer manufacturing plant, you’d see nothing unusual. Your guide would proudly show you the pristine new control room or the 40 towering, shining steel silos. You’d probably not meet Christine—even though without her, the whole thing would come to a grinding, expensive halt.

Hidden away in a windowless, tiny office, Christine and her small team are managing those silos. Almost all the production risk is on their shoulders. Get it wrong and the silos overflow, or a product is contaminated, stopping production and costing millions of dollars an hour. 

This team needs a simple process to follow; every action they have to perform increases the risk. If their process includes digging through a SAP screen for each silo, exporting data to Excel so it can be properly viewed, sending data to other teams for MES, DCS, and Labs data to be added, and then sharing it with a third party logistics team, something is going to go wrong.